Onsted’s Osprey

Yesterday, Connie Spotts, a Jackson Audubon member, posted a sighting of an Osprey nest near Onsted, MI.  The nest is located on a cell phone tower off Springville Hwy, approximately 1 mile south of M-50.  I went there yesterday after work and took a few pics through my scope.  The pics are not the best.  The nest is far from the road.  I only saw one Osprey while I was there, but Connie reported that there are two.  One of them was actively building/adding to the nest while I was there.

On my way home I stopped by Hidden Lake Gardens to soak in some beautiful spring weather.  During my short stay there I spotted four woodpecker species, a Pileated, Red-bellied, Downy and Sapsucker.  I was hoping to also find a Hairy Woodpecker but none would cooperate.

Hidden Lake Gardens species:  Pileated Woodpecker, Downey Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Bluejay, American Robin, Field Sparrow, American Crow, Eastern Bluebird, Black capped Chickadee, Junco, House Finch, Phoebe, Mourning Dove, Turkey Vulture, Wild Turkey, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, White breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, Starling, Killdeer, Trumpeter Swans, Red-winged Blackbird and Tufted Titmouse.

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Great Backyard Bird Count and Matinee

The Lenawee Birders Club would like to invite the public to join us for a fun day of birding and a movie matinee on Sunday, February 19th at Hidden Lake Gardens.  We will be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)- a joint project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society.  The GBBC is an annual event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.  Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.  It takes as little as 15 minutes or you can count for as long as you like.  It’s free, fun and easy; and it helps the birds.  The Lenawee Birders Club will lead a bird walk/count at Hidden Lake Gardens starting at 10:00 am from the Visitor Center.  Following the bird count, we will relax and be entertained by watching the movie “The Big Year” starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson in the Visitor Center.  The movie will begin at noon.
The event is FREE to the public and admission will be waived for those attending the bird walk and movie.
For more information on the GBBC and movie click on the following links;
GBBC
“The Big Year” movie
The Great Backyard Bird Count and Movie Matinee “The Big Year”
Hidden Lake Gardens
Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Bird walk/count begins @ 10 am
Movie “The Big Year” begins @ noon
Free to the public
Hidden Lake Gardens
6214 Monroe Road (M-50)
Tipton, MI 49287
517-431-2060

Bluebird Presentation at Hidden Lake Gardens

 The Lenawee County Master Gardeners Association would like to invite the public to a presentation on Bluebirds. Come to Hidden Lake Gardens on Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 pm in the Visitor Center Auditorium for the presentation.

Allen Bower of Britton and Don Smith of Tecumseh will be doing the Bluebird presentation. It will include a 15 minute video called, “Bluebirds in the Nest Box”, along with personal stories and lots of information on bluebirding. Allen will bring houses to sell and can take orders.
Join the Master Gardeners for this interesting presentation.
The presentation is FREE to the public and the admission fee to Hidden Lake Gardens will be waived.

Here is the link for the Hidden Lake Gardens Posting: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=eosuq4cab&v=001dsGnuBrFqEFgDzFRE-yHb7qLSNczYsqOWjow6CgBximLE_8nMxpOYCqOzShVybQN53lVTzBiE3eq_7Gnni8Z9BEwHpqDhdjJuR2xdQsxvUM%3D

This will be a great opportunity to kick off spring and learn more about our local Eastern Bluebirds!

Sapsuckers and Subtleties @ HLG

Forest Gump said….”Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.  Well, I used to think that about finding Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  But for the past two weeks this Sapsucker has been hanging around in the Arboretum on the same trees.  I didn’t notice at the time but after checking my photos he has several feeding wells on this willow.  So much for finding Sapsuckers randomly.  This guy doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.  What I enjoyed about finding this bird is that he didn’t mind that I laid under the willow tree to wait for him to come out from behind the canopy.  I knew he was up there.  There were no other trees around.  If he did fly off I would have seen him.  While I laid in the grass he shouted a few “meeyahs”!  What a sweet sounding call!….sort of a cross between a catbird and a blue Jay.  I did manage to get a few shots of him up in the tree.  That was good enough for me.  It isn’t always about the photo.  It’s nice to get a good picture.  But the best part is all the stuff you notice while you wait and all the questions that run through your mind during that time.  What kind of tree is this?  Is it dying?  Is there a nest cavity around?  Is the female nearby?  All the stuff that occupies my mind while birding is the stuff that makes hours seem like minutes.  I think it’s important to pause every now and then….to just listen and look.  It served me well earlier in the day.  I had been hiking for about an hour when I paused for a second to notice some Bluebirds in the canopy.  All was quiet until I heard something in the distance.  A honk, several honks….but where was it coming from?  It was the sound of a flock….a very large flock….very far away.  I looked up at the partly cloudy sky.  It was getting louder….but still very far away.  Then I saw them…..above the clouds…..about as far as the eye can see…..birds!  LOTS of birds.  I raised my binoculars….SNOW GEESE!  Not ten, not twenty, not fifty, but hundreds!  I scrambled for my camera.  I knew they were too far away but I wanted to know how many there were?  I would count them at home from the picture.  (I later counted 288 Snow Geese.)  I took another look through my binoculars.  I was in the woods and lucky to be in a small clearing to see them.  I only had a minute or two before they flew out of sight…behind the clouds, behind the  trees.  I stood there in the middle of the woods and looked around. Did anybody else see that???  288 birds as high as a 747 flying south…barely visible, barely audible.  No fanfare.  No advertising.  No notice.  It was just nature doing amazing things, just like always.

Hidden Lake Gardens…A Swan Story

Many people visit Hidden Lake Gardens in Lenawee County.  There is so much to see and do there.  But the main attraction for many is the sight of Hidden Lake itself.  And, for years Trumpeter Swans have lived there.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) are native to our region.  They are mainly identified by their all black bill.  I love their beautiful trumpeting call.  The Trumpeter in this picture I assume is the female.  I’m making that guess because she was alone today during my visit.  I don’t know where the male was?  But I know he had a tumor.  Perhaps the tumor took the life of her companion?  I’m not sure.  I sat on the lawn and watched her for a few minutes.  I wondered what would become of her now.  Swans are thought to mate for life and they can live up to 24 years.  Sadly she has had two mates die (assuming the last one died of the tumor).  Her first mate was killed in the night.  So there she was, wandering around, by herself.  Life can be cruel.  Is there anything we can do?  Should we do anything?  What makes them so special compared to a Mute Swan…the non-native species?  For me the answer is easy.  Humans are responsible for their declining numbers.  We used to kill them for their feathers which made the best quill pens.  Luckily somebody realized these creatures are too beautiful to drive to extinction.  Norman Maclean once said of the art of fly fishing that it is an art that comes by grace, and grace does not come easy.  I believe Swans symbolize grace and remind us (those who have fallen from grace) that we should always achieve to be better.  We should strive to leave this world better than when we found it.  So, YES we should help this swan.  And for those who say we should let nature take its course I say this.  Survival of the fittest is surely the way of the world.  Humans are the fittest but not because of intellect.  We are the fittest because of our capacity for love and compassion.  When we fail to show compassion we fail to be the fittest, and we too shall perish.