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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser

Today, 24 Feb, Sean Fitzgerald and I birded the Lake Michigan lakeshore from Muskegon to South Haven, stopping in Grand Haven for another unsuccessful bid to get Sean his lifer King Eider.

Had some nice birds along the way, but no rarities. Most notably, at Port Sheldon, we came upon a bird I have never seen before, a hybrid male Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser! What a beautiful and odd beast.Even the bill is intermediate between the two parents!

Here are the other highlights from our trip:
Iceland Gull- 1 1st/2nd winter at Grand Haven
Lapland Longspur- 6 with 130 Horned Larks at 62nd Ave, .75 mi N of 118th Ave, Allegan SGA
Lesser Black-backed Gull- 1 at South Haven (see photos below)
Tundra Swan- 6 at Pigeon Lake, Port SheldonRed-throated Loon- 1 at South Haven
Snow Goose- 1 at Allegan SGA, from 59th and 117th looking SW.
Eastern Bluebird- 6 at 118th Ave, Allegan SGA, w. of Todd Farm
Horned Grebe- 6 at various locations.
Double-crested Cormorant- 1 at Dunton Park, Holland
Canvasback- 13 at Pigeon Lake, Port Sheldon
Mute Swan- 113 at Pigeon Lake, Port Sheldon
Red-breasted Merganser- 350+ at South Haven
Long-tailed Duck- 10,000+ offshore at Grand Haven
Common Goldeneye- 1609 (day total)
Common Merganser- 1550 (day total)
Gadwall- 5 at Pigeon Lake, Port Sheldon
American Tree Sparrow- 285 at 59th and 117th, Allegan SGA

As you can see, we counted thousands of ducks along the way, dominated inshore by scaup, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Common Merganser, and Bufflehead, but offshore by huge clouds of Long-tailed Ducks, mostly at Grand Haven. We had a 1st winter/2nd winter Iceland Gull at Grand Haven, and a 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull at South Haven, a plumage I've not seen before. Here are three shots of it. Enjoy.

King Eider Not Seen Since 22 Feb

The King Eider in Grand Haven has been searched for by many for two full days, with no further sightings. The ice in the channel has pushed out into Lake Michigan, and many ducks are moving freely out into the lake, presumably including the Eider.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Finding the Grand Haven King Eider

For anyone interested in chasing the King Eider, this map is accurate as of today, 22 Feb 2007, and represents to the best of my knowledge the sightings from both yesterday and today. The extent of ice may change, and there is open water out in Lake Michigan which could attract the bird at some point, but this will serve as a good starting point for finding this bird. Keep in mind that you can come in from the north side and park at the marina if the bird is hanging out on the north shore of the river. Lastly, this map should say "Chinook Pier" instead of "Chinook Park".

Grand Haven King Eider 22 Feb 2007

Charlie and Feller DeWitt of Muskegon Co. yesterday found and photographed a second-calendar year male King Eider in downtown Grand Haven, along the Grand River at a small strip mall known as Chinook Pier. I was able to see and photograph the bird this afternoon.
Identification of King Eider. An important field mark for separating this species from the very similar Common Eider is the shape of the feathering at the bill base. In this photo you can see that the feathering at the top of the bill extends farther toward the bill tip than the feathering at the side of the bill does (look closely, and keep in mind the sunlight coming in from the left, the right being in shadow).Here it is from a side angle:For comparison, I've done the same thing with a couple of Common Eider photos I took from the web. No matter what the sex or age, this species' facial feathering at the top of the bill never extends as far toward the bill tip as the facial feathering on the side of the bill. Here's a young male Common Eider:

And here's an adult female on the nest:

See my next post to the blog for tips on finding the Grand Haven bird.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Detroit Free Press mentions Warbler

Just noticed another blurb on the warbler, including a photo by Robert Epstein.