May 4th, 2013 Highlights

Towhee by Goyo P
Towhee, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

Bicentennial Park: Nashville Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo.

Patterson Park (Tecumseh): Hermit Thrush, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker.

Indian Trails (Tecumseh): Black-throated Green, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Warbling Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatchatchers

Morenci Lagoons: Blue-winged Teal, Norhern Shoveler, Pied Billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Rough Winged Swallows

Schoonover: White-crowned Sparrows

Lake Hudson: Veery, Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Oriole, Blue-headed Vireo, Field Sparrow, Black and White Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Eastern Kingbirds

Ramsdell: Yellow Warbler, Towhee, Flycatcher species, Brown Thrasher.

Round Lake: Common Loon, Bufflehead, Pied Billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow

Onsted: Two Osprey near the nest.

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Presidential Birding

I’m very fortunate to have President’s Day off from work.  I’m even more fortunate that I live within walking distance to one of the best little parks in Lenawee County.  That is Indian Crossing Trails Park in Tecumseh (MI).  I thought today would be a good day to hike the trails in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count.  This bird count isn’t the biggest or most popular bird count of the year but I still enjoy it.  It’s nice to get out and say hello to the locals (birds and people).  I said hello to several Black-capped Chickadees and Titmouse.  Heard and saw several Brown Creepers.  Downy Woodpeckers seem to be around every corner.  Canada Geese and Mallard can always be found wherever there is open water…and lately there’s always a Mute Swan or two with them.  Today the geese were by Standish Dam.  I wanted to get a closer look to see if there were any Cackling or Greater White Fronted Geese among them but I would have flushed them all trying to get a better vantage point.  So I let them be and continued down the north trail along the river.  This trail always seems to be the most active during all four seasons.  Today was no different.  I found large flocks of House Finches mixed with American Goldfinch.  At one point I stopped along the trail to give some looks at a large flock of House Finches.  And then as birds tend to do they suddenly all flushed for no apparent reason.  Two seconds later the apparent reason appeared.  A Coopers Hawk came souring in low and fast, crossed the trail 30′ in front of me and then disappeared across the river.  Just as I was thinking to myself…”that was cool”…a Bald Eagle glided right over me just above the tree tops.  No matter how many times I see the Bald Eagles in Tecumseh it never gets old.  They are magnificent creatures.  On the way back I managed to kick up two Great Blue Heron, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Kingfisher.  I was satisfied.  I had seen some nice birds.  But the best was yet to come.  Walking along Globe Mill Pond in route to my car I spotted a hawk circling over the pond.  With no obstructions around me I was able to get a good look at it.  At first it looked like a Red-tail…but this hawk had a striped tail.  As it came closer and closer I was able to get a great look at its underside before it flew 50′ over my head.  I was able to see the angular red barring on its wings and chest.  Classic Red-shouldered Hawk!  A life bird for me.  Yep…I’m pretty spoiled to have Indian Crossing Trails in my back yard.  I love Tecumseh!

Gregg Perez, Tecumseh, MI

Owl @ the Moon Review

What a night!  A small group of birders took a slow stroll through Indian Crossings Park tonight and it was truly magical.  Before I get into the details take a look at this amazing piece of art by 11-year-old Meg from Tecumseh.  She made it for me as a gift and titled it, “From a fellow birder 2012”.  I love it!  It was a great start to a great night of owling.

I knew it was going to be a good night when Russell Columbus showed up and handed his camera to me.  “Look what I found”, he said.  On his way to owling he spotted a Snowy Owl on a power pole along M-50 near Britton.  Johanna Lentz was there too.  She saw the Snowy Owl that appeared in Britton two weeks ago.  She said this one was not the same bird.  Hers was not as white.

After everyone had taken a look at the Snowy pic we headed off into the woods.  The night was still and the skies were clear…for once.  We headed up to the bluff overlooking Globe Mill Pond.  I called in a Screech Owl there one week ago within the Pines.  Well, I played some calls and …..Nuthin’!  I have to admit I got a little nervous.  I was sure we would find an owl there.  But it was early and the Canada Geese were still coming in….makin’ a huge racket!  So we moved on.  We decided to take the trail that circles back to where we started.  It was getting darker and we were getting deeper into the woods.  That’s when the Screech Owls started to come alive.  First a faint call in the distance.  Then another.  There were at least two…possibly three birds responding to our calls….but none seemed to be getting closer.  Johanna leaned forward and whispered, “play the calls softly and maybe they will come in closer”.  So I did and sure enough one Screech Owl appeared out of nowhere and alighted on a branch in front of us.  I continued to play the calls quietly.  The owl made a few passes over my head.  We put a red light on her so everyone could get a good look at it.  It hung around for about ten minutes or so before it swooped over me and headed back into the woods.  We all smiled and giggled in appreciation.  That was amazing!  I think we were all pretty satisfied after that.  I played a few more Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl calls further down the trail but I really didn’t mind that none called back.  I kept staring at the night sky.  There was no need for a flash light.  The stars and moon lit the trail.  We spent 90 minutes in the woods altogether.  I could have stayed out there all night.

Kwakwath Trifecta, Indian Crossing Trails ~ Tecumseh, MI

Indian Crossing  (IC) Trails are located on the east end of Tecumseh, MI.  Parking is located at the Community Center on M-50 or at the Standish Dam off Burt Street.  A one-mile long trail runs from Standish Dam to the Community Center.  Additional trails are located on the north side of the River Raisin.

If you go there for birding it’s possible to see a different variety of birds depending on the season.  Yesterday I was mainly searching for migratory warblers so I hiked the floodplain trail on the north side of the river.  I only saw two Yellow-rumped Warblers, but I did find a large flock of Robins mixed with Cedar Waxwings.  This was the largest flock of Robins I have seen since last Spring.  I’m guessing they were mostly Canadian Robins making their way to winter grounds.  Many of them however will stay here.  Wherever there are large stands of berries I find Robins all winter long.  Indian Crossing trails are a great place to see woodpeckers as well.  I saw two Hairy Woodpeckers, a few Downy Woodpeckers and a Red-bellied Woodpecker…..a Kwakwath trifecta!  Downys and Red-bellies are fairly common, but Hairy Woodpeckers are not.  They can be identified by the length of the beak and by their evenly pitched rattle.  Other than that they look very similar to Downy Woodpeckers.  Besides Robins, Waxwings and Woodpeckers it was fairly quiet during my short hike along the River Raisin.  It was so quiet I could hear subtle movements in the leaf litter.  During times like this I sometimes just sit and listen for 10-15 minutes.  Yesterday I spotted a Wild Turkey, two snakes, and a dozen deer just sitting and listening.
One thing I love about IC Trails is that I see something different every time I go there.  I see Bluebirds in the Winter, hear Wood Thrushes playing their flutes in the Spring, flush Wood Ducks along the river’s edge and occasionally spot a Bald Eagle fishing around Globe Mill Pond.  Another thing I love is the history of the park.  I love that Native Americans considered the land sacred.  I love that it has been saved from development and remains sacred to those who love nature.  I love seeing all the different species of Oaks on the high ground.  I love the sound of frogs in the flood plains.  Whether you are birding or not, it’s simply a beautiful place to be.