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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nelson's Sparrow- YES!

There will be many more details to come, but I am happy to announce that today (27 Sep) Tim Baerwald found an inland weedy, flooded field which held at least 2, probably more Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows in Berrien County this morning! My 2 years of searching for the species in Michigan have finally led to a hit- although not one I found on my own.

Here are photos of 1 of the birds and several of the habitat. If you join Tim in his search tomorrow morning (public access is still being worked out), be forewarned that the water is knee-high in many areas, and the whole area is weedy and mucky!

Enjoy the photos, more analysis to come...

Monday, September 1, 2008

A late Cerulean & the beauty of kayaking

The thing I like most about kayaking is the opportunity to explore otherwise unexplorable places. In the spring and summer of 2007 I and several of my friends used this strategy to survey several river drainages for the rare Cerulean Warbler, and we made some neat discoveries. Among other things, we found and GPS'ed the territories of 18 different male Ceruleans along the banks of the Muskegon River and Big Cedar Creek within the Muskegon State Game Area. This is a very wild area that remains unexplored in many ways. The banks are lined with mature canopy forest:
This morning I took the opportunity to get my first taste of fall at this site. When I arrived at above location (an area of particularly high density of Cerulean territories) I noticed a few chickadees and was able to get a mobbing flock going with pishing and Screech-Owl whistles. Much to my amazement, I noticed a male Cerulean Warbler high in the canopy overhead checking things out. He never came closer than about 60 ft overhead, and so I only managed these poor shots:
This struck me as a fairly late date for this species, especially because it appeared to be on territory (and not a lingering migrant in inappropriate habitat). Chartier and Ziarno have this species present in the s. Lower Peninsula into mid-September, and the Birds of MI claims that a few linger into September with 2 Oct 1962 (Kalamazoo Co.) constituting the latest report on record. I would be curious to know others' late dates for this species, and especially others' late dates for birds on territory (my bird was in the exact location of a June 2007 territory, was an adult male, and was there for at least 30 minutes [i.e. apparently not wandering]).

For those who haven't had the pleasure of floating the Muskegon State Game Area here are a few more shots of birds and habitat.