Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012-04-17 Beaudette Park (Oakland County, MI) - 2 lifers!

Admittedly I am very far behind on my blog! I tend to go places and see cool birds and then just need to tell the birders of the southeast Michigan listserv about them instead of putting my "rambles" here on my blog and just referencing them with a URL to the listserv. I truly suspect I am driven by a need to give back to Michigan birders for all their help and encouragement over the last few years and just want to directly write my birding friends and heroes immediately. Anyway, I think I will try to write here first and post a URL to my birding friends. Testing - testing ... how does this work?

Judy and I went to Beaudette Park in Pontiac today. Last year it was great for warblers, and I wanted to see if any were there yet.

I did see one Y-R Warbler ("butter butt"), but that was all so far.

But I got two lifers and decent views at a possible really great bird! And I have pics to verify! (Later ...)

1) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! Geez, I always wanted to see one just to tell people I had done so! I really think this is one of the birds that - when telling the story of conquests - by its mere name really makes non-birders think a birder is nuts! I am slowly climbing the life bird ladder with another name that inspires curiosity among those not inthralled with the subject. It might also inspire much laughter and disdain - or even fear - among those not so inclined to avian pursuits, but I'll take the accolades! Yes, I am nuts over birding, and I just love the way "Yellow-bellied Sapsucker" flows off my newly foreign tongue! Cool!

2) Brown Creeper! Yes, that confirms it! It sounds so mysterious and so potentially dangerous. Another addition to a life list and another addition for casual bar conversation.

On the other hand I do not frequent bars, and most people Judy and I know or meet already know my desire for new avian conquests (to wit: "Are you Dr. Bob"?), and they already suspect I am a bit "touched". Takes all the fun of a surprise revelation out of the equation! Yet I can just imagine and chuckle about a scenario where "Dr. Bob" walks into a bar (... now there is a beginning of a story to explore for humor!) and sits down next to a gorgeous female and we exchange formalities and it gets down to "What did you do today?" "Well, honey, I saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Brown Creeper!"

I love it!!! What a pickup line!!! Certainly different that the norm! ("Geez! Where did my honey of the night go?...")

3)  I think I also got a Wood Thrush! (Yes, I got pics, and it would be a really great bird!). The name does not sound so interesting for casual conversations, and I cannot even use it in a sentence without verification, so I will have to add details for birders. It had strong spots - merging into streaks - all the way down the belly. The back seemed a relatively uniform rufous color - unlike the Hermit Thrush I saw at Metro Beach last week where that color on the back was just above the butt. It went from mid-level in trees to the "floor" near the lake edge, but seemed comfortable in either place. I need input, please! Yes, please guess before I put pics on this blog!

I also tried to get my binocs on a dinky fast-moving pointy-billed "LGJ" (little gray job). I never really had a great view, and could never tell coloration or if it had an eye-ring (not that that feature would have helped ...), but out of dozens of pics mostly focussed on the background, I finally saw a flash of red on the head. OK, forget vireos (my initial thought) - it was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! They have been reported on the Mich birder's list recently so it makes sense, but they are always amazing. I know nothing about vireos (or flycatchers), but do think I know the Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (another LGJ) because it has outer white tail feathers. I thought vireo, but is the same great spring bird that always flies down a few feet way from us at Magee Marsh in Ohio this time of year. I think I finally learned this year that the Golden-crowns come thru first, and am quite happy I saw them this year.
Sure, we saw other birds as well, but these were my favorites!


1) I happened to speak with GBB (good birding buddy) Ed while there and I told him that I thought I had just seen a lifer Sapsucker. As always he provided positive feedback suggesting that with my growing experience, if I thought I had a new bird, I probably did. His clue was that a quick view of a Sapsucker looked "dirty" compared with the very abundant Red-Bellied Woodpecker that also has a red head. Cool! My pics bear this out!

2) I have told the birders list before that I needed to see a Creeper. The main advice was that (paraphrasing here) a creeper is like a Nuthatch except the WB Nuthatch goes down a tree and a Creeper goes up a tree. The creeper flies lower to the next tree and starts going up again. It did so! Even with purely back-lit silhoutte pics, I could see the curved bill, but I actually got some decent pics of coloring as well to confirm. Again, cool!

Y'all birders are the best! Thanks to the Michigan birding listserv and birders to whom I write this blog!!!

BTW, Beaudette Park is a great place for winter ducks and - as I learned last year - a really great place for spring migrants. Recommended! We often go there. On the other hand, there is a normal "cast of characters in cars" doing their own thing - whatever it is. My personal advice is to never train binocs or cameras in their direction. There are no birds there anyway. Besides, if you never train optics on them and you are approached (never happened yet), all you have to do is say you were looking for a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker as reported on the internet. Not only would they think you are totally nuts, but also that you have connections!

Now to go off and work on pics - to be added later!

2012-04-12 Lake Saint Clair Metro Park (Metro Beach MP)

Place holder.

Ramble and pics later. I gotta do another blog tonite.(... Oh, I am so far behind ...)

2012-04-06 Good Friday. Really a Great Friday! Inwood Trails at Stoney Creek Metro Park

Place holder.

We went to see the Ospreys nesting on the cell tower there. We saw them and shot lots of pics! Then we walked about on our first visit here and I shot several pics of a Kestrel - one in flight! - and a lifer field sparrow.

Ramble and pics later. I gotta do another blog tonite.(... Oh, I am so far behind ...)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012-04-03 - eliminating Ruddy Ducks in England. Huh?

OK. I am still doing it. I really need to start here on the blog first and make a reference, but I just go off into space to comment on something on the birders list. I saw a message from Michigan Birders tonight and felt compelled to respond. I share it here.

Here is what I wrote. If you start near the bottom, you will see the note that triggered this "ramble".

Unbelievable! (Hey, it's after April 1, so I gotta believe it ...)

Without going into the previous messages listed on the referenced web-site (I am very sure they are interesting...), the first ref:
gave me a look at the endangered White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Interesting! I guess, if here, I would have thought it a leucistic "Someduck" - maybe Ruddy - and asked birder's advice. I never even heard about it before tonight - not in MY books!

Maybe the prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere from west to east are why we do not see the White-headed duck? Yet thinking about the winds again, why do the Brits and Spaniards not think "our" Ruddy Ducks again will interfere after some big blow during migration? And, I also suspect some blown-over duckers might be unfaithful in a land of new opportunities...

Yes, I continue to be clueless yet found this fascinating, but one point it raised in my mind - What if we in the USA were living on an island, or in a small country (small compared to the USA)? What we might then do to protect "our" species?

I also cannot help but think of an analogy from fishing. Carp fishing is a huge thing "across the pond". They have evolved an amazingly sophisticated culture for fishing for carp. We are learning from the Brits about how to fish for carp developed because of their limited fishery options. What do you do for fishing fun where the population per fish - and especially fishable access - is so large? Carp are really fun on light tackle, and become with fishing pressure, a hard species to catch!!! But what else do they have as a major fishery? Geez! And what access is available to the public? !!! Everything is private!

Here in Michigan we can fish for bass (maybe the best smallmouth fishery in the world and good largemouth bass fishing as well) as well a huge number of fish only dreamed about on the other side of The Pond - think walleyes, and muskies, and a Great Lakes salmon/steelhead fishery that often rivals our own west coast!

And birds? I can only surmise, but certainly land mass and migration patterns suggest many more possibilities here. I think Michigan is an amazing place to bird!

But, I also know our native (undeveloped - yet also secondary in a historical sense) landscape is rapidly dwindling thru development. And I wonder - how long will it take before we regard our own special (maybe not endangered, but dwindling) bird populations as special enough to cause concern?

I love "tippy tails" (Ruddy Ducks), and only began seeing them a couple of years ago. It took a couple of years to learn how to ID them. I rarely see them. Any guesses on this side of the pond as to whether we should be concerned?

But more importantly, I wonder and pose a question:

If you were on an island (no, not the traditional coconut-filled desert island of such questions, but one like Great Britain) or living in a very limited geographic space (think Europe), how would YOU respond to threats of species extinction? Sure we all cite Kirtland Warblers in Michigan as a success story, but what else? Sadly, EPA and similar USA safeguards have been very much weakened in the last couple of decades and are very much still under attack. I suspect we are complacent with our much larger land mass and we tend to forget the older song that basically said "pave Paradise and put up a parking lot".

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Yellow_Taxi

It can happen here!

No, I really do not care much about Mallards hybridizing with American Black Ducks - It happens. I know few examples so far. But what else? And what do we know about Whobird does IT with Whombird in the birding world? (Yes, genetics suggest stuff, but like I said before, I know little ...)

I just got fired up now on a "ramble". I call it "just wondering". But what if WE lived in a very limited geographic space? What birds would WE protect?

"Dr. Bob" Setzer
Streamwood Estates, Rochester Hills (Crooks & Hamlin), Oakland County
"Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day." Teaching a man to "bird" is much harder!

P.S., And, of course, what are OUR spending priorities? What percent goes to environmental and bird-related concerns? I just read some article that suggested that if we cancelled only seven (of 200+) fighter jets currently funded for a yet unknown battle with an unknown enemy, we could give every grade-schooler a tablet computer thing. Maybe they might learn about birds! In an era of federal deficits, this sounded quite amazing!

-----Original Message-----
Subject: [birders] $318,000 Found To Finish Off The Ruddy Duck

WWT = Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a UK conservation organization RSPB = Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Defra = Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1 = US $1.59 as of 3 April 2012

The following is quoted from British Birds, April 2012, Volume 105, page 221:

UK Government finds 200,000 to finish off the Ruddy Duck

The latest report on the Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis eradication programme concludes that there are now fewer than 100 Ruddy Ducks remaining in the UK and confirm that the cull has been extended to finish the job. Since the early 1990s, Ruddy Ducks, probably originating from the large feral population in the UK, had appeared in Spain where they hybridized with the globally threatened White-headed Duck O. leucocephala and threatened the native species with extinction. The Spanish Government requested action.

Between 1903 and 2004, the UK Government undertook research to determine the most effective techniques for culling the Ruddy Duck. An initial programme of killing the birds in the breeding season was largely unsuccessful. In September 2005, Defra estimated the Ruddy Duck population to be 4,400 birds and embarked on a comprehensive cull in the breeding season and in winter. According to the annual bulletins from Defra, 3,691 were culled in 2005-07, 1,190 in 2007/08, 738 in 2009/10 and 322 in 2010/11, a total of 7,225 birds, well in excess of the original estimate of 4,400 in September 2005.
The cull has been controversial, particularly since the WWT and the RSPB supported it. The RSPB lost members because of its support for the cull, but David Hoccom, head of the RSPBs species policy unit, told BBC News: It is very sad that such measures are necessary, but we expect the White-headed Ducks future to be more secure as a result. The White-headed Duck has undergone a rapid worldwide decline, making extinction a real possibility.

Over 7,000 Ruddy Ducks have been killed at a cost of 5m. That a further 200,000 can be found in these austere times to cull the remaining 100 is an intriguing insight into Government spending priorities.


2012-03-27: GBBC via CARP

OK, that’s a title to decipher!

It translates to: Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) via Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP). At least that I think how CARP started out. I just looked it up. They no longer use it as an acronym for reasons explained at their site:

I picked up on this idea from a newsletter from Bird Studies Canada. (Hey, Canada is closer to se Michigan than the UP!)


(You do not need to subscribe. The URL gives links to their programs on the left side. It was just the fastest way to drop a URL for those curious …

Here is a link to the GBBC summary from the CARP site:


I think it is interesting to see what our northern (and southern – in the case of sw Ontario) neighbors experienced on the GBBC.

But actually the main reason I want to send this out is that there was a post to C.A.R.P. members about the GBBC that generated a huge response for GBBC:


Does anyone know of anything by AARP in a similar vein? I am an AARP member, but do not recall anything. There are so many AARP members in Michigan! I know some are on the birders list. I know some did the GBBC. But I really believe there is a HUGE number of AARP members (the majority!) who have bird feeders and yet do not consider themselves formal birders or are actively involved in activities that promote birding or the conservation of birds. Not only would it be good for GBBC, but having that group become actively involved in this one activity (as a starter) would generate SO much interest in our birding fascination!

Similar to local news outlets, this is another place to create a positive presence for birding! And, all such forums need ambassadors to post occasional notes.

Anyone see anything on GBBC from local news or AARP?

Just wondering … (or is it rambling and wandering?) …

2012-03-23: Just keeping up with past posts to MI Birders:

OK, I just cannot refrain from immediacy. Here is what I wrote to MI Birders on March 23:

After doc appointments today in the same area, we visited Dutton Fields to see if the Horned Larks were still there. It has been a long time since I seeded the area figuring out this year we would never see Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs. I was very curious about the Horned Larks that seem to love the habitat anyway!

Initially we saw no Horned Larks, but I was quite rewarded and amazed as we arrived to see a small hawk-thing flying towards me. I did have my binocs out and got great looks at a lifer AMERICAN KESTREL! The camera was still stowed at the time and the bird landed no more than 30 feet from me. Beautiful basically reds and blues! Amazing!!!

By the time I got camera in hand, the bird was off again, but stayed in the general area. It kept landing on the white pipes sticking out of the ground. After pursuit, I finally got a few recognizable pics of it. What a great bird! A lifer! We had only seen a live one before with the falconers who present occasionally at birding events

Check it out:


Do “next” to see white tips on some tail feathers. This detail often seems lacking in bird books.

No, the pics are not the greatest. When I shot the bird, it was at least 75 yards away – a mere speck in my camera view. But I was lucky!

On reflecting on my pics, I need to again thank my mentor Jerry who taught me how to make the best of my pics.

And, then you can go to the next pic to see really horny Horned Larks! Judy and I loved watching his pair for about 15 minutes! Up in the air intimately singing lovely songs within inches of each other, and then back on the ground as if nothing special were happening. Then I guess his posing got to her, and off they went again!


Finally, I walked to get some new pics at home (really got some good ones of female Downy WP and WB Nuthatch), but my favorite was some birdie plants doing what I suspected the horny larks were doing! Siberian Squilla.

Any day birding is better than …