Wild Wild West…Lenawee

Schoonover WPA a video by Goyo P on Flickr.

West Lenawee is heating up in the cold winds of March. After witnessing such a large raft of waterfowl yesterday at Devils Lake I decided to head back for more. Only this time I went to Morenci and Hudson. Here are some of the highlights I found around Morenci, Lake Hudson and Schoonover WPA. Ring-necks, Lesser Scaup, Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Mallard, Canada Geese, Horned Grebe, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Pintail, Gadwall, Redheads, Wigeon, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Robins, Turkey Vultures, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Bluebirds, Horned Larks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker, Tree Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Bluejay, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Ring-necked Pheasant, Northern Mockingbird and Tree Swallow.


Konkereeeee a video by Goyo P on Flickr.

Ahhhh! I love the sound of Red-winged Blackbirds in the spring. Today’s birding started very slow but picked up as the day went along. The 1 mile walk along the Pine trail at Hidden Lake Gardens was quiet….VERY quiet…except for the Crows. We probably saw the same number of Crows as we did all other species combined. I think it’s ok to say that the highlight of the Gardens today was the Spring Bulb Show in the conservatory.

My next stop on my short birding tour of Lenawee was Devils Lake/Round Lake. Round Lake typically has more birds than Devils but today it was completely frozen over. Devils Lake, however, had some open water on the Southeast side. I found the largest flock of waterfowl that I have ever seen there. There were Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasback, Redheads, American Widgeon, Coots, Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead and Goldeneye. Altogether there were close to 300 birds or more.

My goal after leaving Devils Lake was to drive the farm fields back to Tecumseh to look for flocks of blackbirds. I found a decent sized flock on the corner of Kemp and Wisner of approximately 200-300 birds. Most were Red-winged blackbirds, but mixed in with them were Cowbirds, Grackles and two Rusty Blackbirds.

My last stop of the day was Red Mill Pond. It’s only 100 yards from my house so I had to stop in and give a quick look. I stayed long enough to count 29 Common Merganser.

Overall it was a good day. It was beautiful with all the fresh snow on the ground but the wind was harsh. Every day I get to go birding is a good day no matter what the weather. But, I am starting to look forward to some warmer springtime weather. Bring on the warblers!!

Bluebird Monitoring

Bluebird Monitoring by Goyo P
Bluebird Monitoring, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

We recently contacted the City of Tecumseh for permission to place Bluebird nest boxes on City property. The City has graciously allowed us to do this. Boxes will be installed by Gregg Perez with the City approving the locations. So far we have permission to place boxes at Smith Park, Brookside Cemetery and Tecumseh High School.

If you have any spare Bluebird nest boxes that you would like to donate or would like to volunteer to adopt/monitor a Bluebird nest box please contact Gregg ( gregorioperez 7 2 AT yah oo. com ). Since monitoring requires checking the box once a week we also need back up monitors in case somebody cannot check their nest boxes due to vacation or illness.

If you have a Bluebird nest boxes on your private property and would like to learn how monitor them we would love to help you get started.

In order to keep this announcement brief please check out the Michigan Bluebird Society website for answers to all your Bluebird related questions.
http://www.michiganbluebirdsociety.org Due to the frozen ground it may take us a few weeks to get the boxes installed. So please take some time to peruse the MBS website.

Other Items of Interest….

Robert Pardee and Gregg Perez will be leading a bird walk at Hidden Lake Gardens on March 16 starting at 9:00 am. Meet in the Visitor Center parking lot. Rain out date will be the following Saturday. A gate fee is required for entrance into the Gardens.

Bird Walk @ Powell Nature Sanctuary, April 20, 8-11 am. Johanna Lentz, Janet Kauffman and Gregg Perez will lead the walk. RSVP: Matt Schultz (517) 643-6864 or mschultz@michigannature.org

Heritage Park Update

Heritage Park Update by Goyo P
Heritage Park Update, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

The following information is for those who may be interested in the oil drilling located at Heritage Park and how it relates to bird habitat. I will attempt to offer an unbiased report of the situation.

The well-head is located next to the barns near the existing soccer fields. I am not sure what the green solution is within the containment area? I am assuming it is what they refer to as drilling brine. I do not know what it consists of? I have heard that it is corrosive. If anyone knows please feel free to comment. There is a wetland approximately 400 yards to the left of this picture. This wetland tends to hold the highest concentration of birds at Heritage Park. The containment area appears to be sufficient to keep the unknown solution from spilling into the wetland.

I started birding the wetland at approximately 12:30 pm. The Cattail marsh was active with Song Sparrows and Carolina Wrens. A flock of approximately 20 Tree Sparrow flushed as I crossed the boardwalk. Two Brown Creepers were seen along the hillside. There were plenty of Chickadees, Junco, Crow, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Titmouse and Northern Cardinal. I dipped on Fox Sparrow and Thrushes. I heard a few Red-winged Blackbirds. One Turkey Vulture made a pass over the wetland. I heard Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, however I was not able to see them through the low clouds. The same goes with Red-tailed Hawks. Several Killdeer were heard but not seen. One Horned Lark was heard but not seen. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were very active today. At least five were seen chasing each other around. They appeared to be all males so I am assuming they were establishing territory but that’s just a guess. Carolina Wrens were very vocal. I watched one fly to its nest. The snow is melting but the ground is still partially frozen so it was possible to walk through some areas that wont be accessible in a few days. Skunk Cabbage is just starting to poke out of the ground.

Bird Park in February

Late February by Goyo P
Late February, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

Evans Creek has been high lately from the rain we received last Tuesday. The creek runs through Bird Park and flows into Globe Mill Pond where it joins the River Raisin. The trail that runs along the creek to the end of the peninsula is not that long; maybe only a quarter mile? I like that it’s a short dead-end trail. It does not get as much hiker/walker/jogger traffic. To me it’s a park that is best enjoyed slowly. If you go there often you will see a variety of birds but never all at the same time. It’s almost as if the park features a new bird during every visit. I suppose it must in order to compete with its neighbor, the Tecumseh Center for the Arts who features a new show every week. On the other hand there are several species of birds that can consistently be seen there. The most “regular” sighting being the Northern Cardinal. I hear/see a lot of Carolina Wrens there. White-throated Sparrows are fairly common if you’re patient enough to wait for them to appear out from the scrubby underbrush. And then there’s everyone’s favorite bird the Black-capped Chickadee. I just heard the Belted Kingfisher the other day. They like to perch on the overhead wire near the end of the peninsula. It wont be long before the trees are dripping with warblers. I saw my first Yellow Warbler of the year in Bird Park last spring. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter you want to take it very slow as walk the trail. Walk too fast and you will flush the waterfowl. Walk slow and you have a good chance at seeing a dabbler in one of the few places in Tecumseh that has open water year-round. Even if you don’t see any birds it’s always nice to just sit down to listen to the creek flowing by while watching the snow falling lightly on pond. Enjoy and good birding!