Thursday, June 16, 2016

USA - 14th and 15th May..

On leaving our hotel in Grayling, MI at 07.30 we had a bit of a shock as the temperature had gone down to 3 degrees and felt like March. This effect was even more exacerbated when almost our first bird of the day was a male Lapland Bunting that flushed from a rough ground area beside the main road.

While waiting for the chaps to gather, John and myself loitered around the hotel looking at the woods at the back. Here we heard an owl call quite loudly that, when Richard played the calls back to us, was certainly a Northern Saw-whet Owl. We tried to look for it, but with so much pine forest it was futile so we headed on to our journey into the Upper Peninsular of Michigan, locally know as the U.P ( Yew-pee).

UP wetlands...

Wide open space....

The lads have no idea that a bear is stalking them...

Now thats a lake. With Canada in the distance.

Beaver work...

Birding was quite good en-route with 2 American Bitterns flushed from a roadside ditch and flying next to the car for a short way, male and female Northern Harriers, Red breasted Merganser and Goosander ( Common Merganser here). A stop near a large wooded lake had 2 Ring necked Ducks, Northern Harrier and Belted Kingfisher while the woods were quiet with only Hermit Thrush ( the first of many) and Blue headed Vireo noted.

What really struck me was how big and empty the place is. Huge good wide roads straight as a die for miles with little traffic on them.

We had a stop at Taquemanon Falls River Mouth and happened upon a nice Northern Mockingbird here at the northern end of their range. Some maps show them as only going up as far as Ohio, but they seems to be expanding range. Also here Richard found a Vesper Sparrow that we all missed, Swamp Sparrow and a Beaver lodge.

Northern Mockingbird
We arrived at Whitefish Point at noon in a bitterly cold northerly wind but at least it was bright and sunny. Most birds were gathered at feeders behind the obs building - 30+ White crowned Sparrows, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 3+ White throated Sparrow, 1 Chipping Sparrow, 20+ Blue Jay, 4+ Raven over head, 1 Osprey over, 3 Sharp shinned Hawks in to the feeders, 4+ Black capped Chickadee and 1 Chipmunk.

Whitefish Point, Michigan

A very cold, Whitefish Point

Vast open spaces at Whitefish Point looking over to Canada.

And yes that is fresh water....
Black capped Chickadee


Killdeer, maybe the best bird photo I've ever taken....

We checked a few places around the Paradise / Newberry area but the wintry weather had us beat. Birds remained elusive..

Overnight was spent in Newberry. The temp dropped to -2 and when I got up there was a light grass frost. Later it was fine with odd snow flurries remaining cold.

First stop was an old airport called Raco Airfield. This was an excellent stop for birding until we came to leave and found we had been locked in! I removed a fence post, temporarily, allowing Richard to drive us out, then replaced it. No one was any the wiser.

The entrance to the airfield was quite good with several Vesper Sparrows and 2 Evening Grosbeaks around the gate.

Vesper Sparrow, a bit like an Ortolan Bunting from Europe.
Hermit Thrush, the commonest of the brown thrushes up here.
Further over we stopped the van and raked around a bit seeing - 3 Sharp tailed Grouse ( all flushed), 4+ Vesper Sparrows, a pair of Pine Warblers, 3 Brown Thrasher, 5+ Dark eyed Junco, 1 Savannah Sparrow, 1 Sandhill Crane over, 1 male American Kestrel, 1 Northern Flicker, 2 Upland Sandpipers on the edge of a runway and several Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Raco Airfield

After escaping our temporary confinement we stopped at Eckerman where we found the famous Bear Butt Bar was now closed. Luckily a house next door also had feeders including a huge dustbin winched up a flagpole to keep critters off. On this were 10+ Purple Finches, 6+ Evening Grosbeak, 10+ Blue Jay and a Northern Flicker.

Continuing on a theme, the rest of the day was spent driving remote roads and stopping occasionally to see what turned up. We did alright with some perseverance.
6+ Ruffed Grouse at various spots, 1 Red breasted Nuthatch, 1 Yellow bellied Sapsucker,  2 Pine Warbler, 1 Blue headed Vireo and a Palm Warbler were all seen. A small warbler flock held Cape May, Black throated Green and Yellow rumped but generally passerines were very hard to find.

In the McMillan Forest we came across a nice male Golden crowned Kinglet that gave some reasonable views.

We ended the day exhausted  and decided we needed to regroup and try something different tomorrow....

Houses in the forest.

Red breasted Nuthatch.

Swainson's Thrush

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drumming on a road sign. It was deafening.
A Blue headed Vireo, 'pished' in....
Click on this and you can see in there is a Ruffed Grouse....

Now thats a feeder!

1 comment:

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Angry birds on the feeder! Like the game!