The Wild Wild West (Hudson and Morenci, MI)

Before I begin it should be stated that birders should use caution when hiking through the woods during hunting season.

Today myself and Jkbird took to the woods of southwest Lenawee in blaze orange.  We used caution in areas where the locals were hunting…but mostly we avoided them altogether.  We experienced unseasonably warm weather but the wind was blustery to say the least.  We started the day at the Morenci Sewage Ponds which held large numbers of Canada Geese (approximately 700)  Within the geese we spotted Mallards, Ruddy Ducks and a few Bufflehead.  Along the shore there were Killdeer and a solitary Yellow/Greater Yellowlegs.  Then out of nowhere a flock of 12-15 beautiful white birds arrived….swiftly flying a few feet above the surface of the water.  We quickly found them in the scope and identified them as Sanderling.  After an hour of admiring their aerial displays we left for the middle pond where we found a solitary Bonaparte’s Gull.

We made a few stops along Bean Creek to listen for Brown Creepers, Nuthatches, Juncos and Chickadees.  The Schoonover Waterfowl Production Area was our next stop but all was quiet there.  Medina Park was closed for the season, so we decided to hike Ramsdell Park.  We had already logged 26 species before we hit Ramsdell.  My goal was to hopefully add a few sparrow species and possibly find the Pileated Woodpecker….one that I saw a few months back.  We hiked through the woods and all the way to the east end of the park only finding a few species.  BUT we heard the Pileated!  We sat and listened but the woods went quiet.  We waited a little longer.  We were losing our daylight and decided to head back.  When we stopped to admire some Burr Oaks a flock of Robins appeared, then a flock of Cedar Waxwings.  We walked a bit closer to get a better view.  Suddenly a few sparrows flew across the trail from the underbrush.  One appeared to be an American Tree Sparrow.  The Robins were still flying back and forth across the trail.  Some were scratching the ground for food.  More Sparrows arrived.  BUT these were different.  They were red!  They had the same characteristics as a Song Sparrow except for the color.  They kept to the underbrush mostly.  But some joined in the ground scratching with the Robins.  JK spotted one in a tree.  I aimed my camera and took three quick pictures before it darted away.  We followed them up the trail.  When we made it to the top of the hill I heard the Pileated in the distance.  I dropped the Fox hunt and headed off through the meadow to get a better view of the tree line in the distance.  I pointed my binoculars where I heard the call.  I saw nothing.  Was it too far away I wondered?  Then, there it was.  I had pointed my binoculars almost exactly where he was perched among the distant trees.  When he flew off I followed him.  He landed in a nearby tree.  His silhouette was unmistakable.  What a day! How awesome is that to end the day with a Pileated Woodpecker!  But it wasnt over yet.  JK spotted our only warbler of the day….a lone Yellow-rump flew right over us.  THAT was the end of our day in Southwest Lenawee.  36 Species were seen altogether.  A few were new life birds for me.


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