Monday, June 13, 2016

USA ....13th May

Hello again, sorry about the delay, we've been away to Suffolk on holiday last week, but more of that to come, first though lets crack on with the American trip....

Yesterdays visit to Magee Marsh was our final look at the migration hotspot. Today we are taking in a new type of habitat ( and species) before heading north to follow the migrants up into Michigan.

We arrived at Oak Openings around 8am on a lovely cool, bright sunny morning. As with all sites here, the birding was quite easy, walking on road surfaces next to good bird spots...

Oak Openings Preserve
This area is a large prairie / mature woodland location and as a consequence it holds some birds that are difficult to find elsewhere. We soon found some targets - 6+ Lark Sparrows, 8+ Red headed Woodpecker inc one excavating a nest hole, 5+ Field Sparrows, 1 White breasted Nuthatch and 1 Grasshopper Sparrow were all new additions. Also we saw 3 Yellowthroats, and a large flock mobbing a red phase Screech Owl that tried to shake its attackers by swerving through the tree trunks in the bright sunshine. In pursuit were 3 Hairy Woodpeckers, 4+ Bluebirds, many Blue Jays and an American Crow. A Meadowlark was seen near the Grasshopper Sparrow too.

Tree Swallow

Fox Squirrel, much larger than Greys.

Red headed Woodpecker

White breasted Nuthatch
Time to get the pedal to the metal and we moved north. On route we took in a bizarre mini twitch for a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper! Now we hadn't taken leave of our senses, Curlew Sandiper is an annual sighting back home, but if this site held the Curlew Sand, what else may be fact it was just a small flooded field but it held 60 Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Wilsons Snipe, 1 drab fs male Wilsons Phalarope, 2 Spotted Sandpipers, 1 Short billed Dowitcher, 2 Dunlin and 2 Kildeer. Apart from waders we had 2 Buff bellied Pipits, several Purple Martins, 1 Red tailed Hawk and 1 female Northern Harrier.

Angola / Raab Road - Scene of the Curlew Sandpiper...
Onwards and upwards, 200 miles later and we arrived at Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, Michigan.

What a change in habitats and even seasons. It was much colder here and the trees still didnt have a leaf on them. It reminded me of the differences between say Minsmere and Loch Garten.

Feeding Station at Harwick Pines State Park. Click on it and you can just see on the feeders stuck on the glass, 2 grosbeak species.

Hartwick Pines State Park
As we didnt get here til 6pm, the centre was closed, so we had a short stroll around. Behind the building was a large feeding station. It was fantastic and for me one of the trip highlights, it was just a shame it was a little bit too dark for the photos. On the feeders were 5+ Evening Grosbeaks, huge illuminous finches that dwarf our hawfinch, 10+ Rose breasted Grosbeak, 1 Pine Siskin ( cant tell if male or female, they all look like our female siskins) 1 Mourning Dove and 2 Red breasted Nuthatches tooted their distinctive toy trumpet call note, a bit like a zebra finch.



Evening and Rose breasted Grosbeaks

Evening Grosbeak
Further into the woods were Scarlet Tanager, Bay breasted Warbler, Black throated Green warbler and 2 Chipping Sparrows. American Robins were everywhere. Near the track a pair of Yellow bellied Sapsuckers were nest building and a Brown Creeper crept around the car park.

A few mammals here - 1 huge Porcupine in a tree above our bus, good numbers of Chipmunks, American red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel and Fox Squirrel including some black ones.

A great day out....

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