Patterson Park Tour, May 17, 6-7 pm

The Lenawee Birders Club is leading a group of birders this Friday, May 17 from 6-7 pm through a VERY small park in Tecumseh. Patterson Park is a family friendly park and easy to walk. Bird lovers of all ages and experience levels are welcome. It runs along Evans Creek and usually holds a few warblers, vireo, thrush and woodpeckers this time of year. In addition to looking for birds it’s also an introduction to one of the “hidden birding hot spots” in Tecumseh. This will be the first of a series of tours through Lenawee County this year which highlight some places that are hard to find or unknown to most people. The easiest way to get to Patterson Park is to enter off of Union Street at the Patterson Elementary School entrance. Follow the drive all the way to the end near the playground. Hope to see you there, Gregg Perez

Patterson Park 401 N. Van Buren St

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=42.0075+-83.9541667

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KonkerEEEEEEE!


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

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!

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

The End is Near

Common Redpoll by Goyo P
Common Redpoll, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

That seemed to be the theme for 2012. Well I’m glad the Mayans were wrong. Now we can get back to the important things in life….like birds! =)

2012 was a good year for Lenawee Birders. Membership is growing and our Facebook page has been a popular place for birders to share their sightings and stories.

On this last day of the year I thought I would post one of the lesser known irruption birds in our area, the Common Redpoll. Last year I was fortunate to see one at the Brookside Cemetery in Tecumseh. Let us know if you see one. You might find them in small flocks near your thistle feeder.

Good birding!
Lenawee Birders

Tecumseh’s Merlin

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

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.

Thursday Birding Aug. 2nd: Sparrows and Nighthawks

The stars and moon are aligned perfectly for our next field trip this Thursday, Aug 2nd…literally! I checked the moon phase calendar and we will have a 99% full moon, with a moon rise starting at 9 pm. The skies will be mostly clear with light winds. These are ideal conditions for a Nightjar survey. That being said I arranged permission with the City of Tecumseh to utilize the vacant Industrial Park just east of town on M-50. I picked this site because it is nice grassland habitat for sparrows and other birds. 

Here is a loose plan for the evening. 

6 pm: Meet at end of drive in the Industrial Park

6-8 pm: Walk along the grasslands in search of Vesper and Savannah Sparrows (recently spotted there by Darrin O’Brien).

8-9 pm: Social hour

9-11 pm: Quietly sit in lawn chairs under a full moon listening and looking for Nightjar. 

 

What to bring: 

lawn chair

flashlight

bug spray

water

Bins

scope if you have one

snacks

 

The Industrial Park is approximately one mile east of Tecumseh on M-50 (south side).

Lenawee Birder’s Tour Ives Road Fen

This past Sunday, The Nature Conservancy opened its doors to the Ives Road Fen for a group of birders and naturalist of all ages. Russell Columbus and his wife Kristin, both Nature Conservancy volunteers, along with Chuck Pearson, the Ives Road Fen project leader, led an extensive tour of the fen. The tour was a three mile hike through the upland grassy meadows and small oaks, down the valley into the old rock and limestone quarry, and through the river bottom and fen.
The weather was perfect for a walk and taking pictures; sunny skies, a gentle breeze and about 65°F! Highlights included a meet and greet with endangered Blanchard Cricket frogs (Acris creptitans) where we gathered around a pong edge to find the small amphibians with a bright green triangle on the back of their heads. The young members of the hiking group successfully found the frogs first along with a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta). While looking for frogs, we also observed and listened to many Northern Mockingbirds, happily inhabiting the scrub piles around the pond! The woods held wildflowers for us to explore such as yellow and purple Violas, Spring Beauty’s, and Dutchman’s Britches that started growing. From a hillside before we walked down to the river bottom, we could observe a Great Blue Heron rookery across the river with five visible herons sitting on their nests.
We briefly stopped for a rest at a house purchased by The Nature Conservancy before heading into the fen and watched Spring Azure butterflies (Celastrina ladon) dancing around the lawn with Golden Crowned Kinglets singing in the Elm trees nearby. The fen itself is very alkaline with a pH of about 8 and hosts many micro habitats and plants. It was difficult to navigating through the fen with no real walking trails and soft peat that seemed to sink when you least expected it.
Overall, we saw a total of 29 different bird species and experienced many natural beauties for early spring at the fen. For more information about the Ives Road Fen, please visit The Nature Conservancy’s website at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/michigan/placesweprotect/ives-road-fen-preserve.xml . If you would like to volunteer at the Ives Road Fen, they have workdays every Saturday beginning in April to August from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.