The Lenawee Birders Club is planning a field trip to the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary on Saturday, October 27th to watch Sandhill Cranes come in to roost for the night. If you have never experienced Sandhill Cranes coming in to roost you do not want to miss this. The number of cranes coming in to roost is above record levels.
The agenda is as follows:
1. Meet in the Haehnle parking lot at 3:00 pm.
2. @ 3:15 pm we will car pool and take the Crane driving tour to see if we can spot them up close in the surrounding fields.
3. @5:15 pm we arrive back at Haehnle to walk the nature trails before dusk.
4. @6:00 pm meet at the Haehnle overlook to watch the Cranes come in to roost.
It is possible that Cranes could come in earlier or later. They rarely follow such agendas. Some birders stay until after dark to catch the last remaining Cranes flying in. Depending on how much time you want to spend at Haehnle, birders can arrive at 3:00 for a long afternoon/evening, or come at 6 with a lawn chair to enjoy a shorter more relaxing evening.
Haehnle has a very nice website where you can find all kinds of information about Sandhill Cranes, the history of the property and latest crane counts. It is…
No, I’m not talking about some magical wizard. I’m talking about Falco Columbarius…a small falcon of the Northern Hemisphere. This small falcon has been hanging out in Tecumseh. I spotted it one day as I was walking south on Maumee Street. I usually carry my binoculars when I go for walks so naturally I stopped to try and ID a bird that was perched on the tippy top of a very tall conifer in front of the Tecumseh Center for the Arts. As soon as I got in focus I said to myself “Sharpshin (hawk)”! A moment later I thought, “that tail is too short for a sharpie”. It took a few moments for the realization to hit me. I asked myself…”Is that a Merlin?” I walked around the tree slowly, trying not to spook it. It watched me closely. Suddenly it took off and naturally flew away and down to become immediately obstructed by the tree. It was one of those moments where I was pretty sure about what I saw…but there was a little doubt and I had no photo to prove it or confirm it. Oh well..that’s the life of a birder. But when I started to walk north three hawk-sized birds zipped over my head and headed west. Naturally they immediately became obstructed by trees. I sprinted to a clearing and tried to catch a better glimpse. But it was too late. They were far off and too small to ID. I finished my walk and figured…oh well…I guess I’ll never know.
A week later I happened to be driving by the TCA. Just out of curiosity I looked up at the tip of the conifer and low and behold the Merlin was there. Instead of stopping I quickly drove home and returned with my scope and camera. I got my shot of the Merlin. I finally had my proof.
The Merlin is not always on the TCA conifer. But I tend to see it there most in the evening. Occasionally I would see it flying from the southwest to perch in the conifer. One day I decided to walk in that direction. I looked for tall conifers. To my surprise the Merlin was perched on the tallest conifer right across the street from the Tecumseh Library.
A lot of people have seen the Merlin now. I’ve seen it a dozen times in the last month. But is it a year round resident? Who knows? I do know that the late Bob Arthurs of Ann Arbor spotted a Merlin at the Brookside Cemetery last winter. Is it the same one? Maybe. The only way to know is to keep our eyes peeled. Take a peek at the tallest tree tops in Tecumseh. Is there a bird up there? Is it just a Crow? Take a look. It just might be Tecumseh’s magical Merlin.