Monday, March 9, 2009

(South) Winds of Change

This is my 8th winter in Michigan, and I am still amazed by how fast the winter comes and goes in this region. Last Monday morning, 8 days ago, it took me about 5 minutes to de-ice the windshield of my trusty Ford Focus, at 5h40 in the morning. Temperature then was a rather chilly 2F (-16C).
But on Wednesday, something extraordinary happened. The wind turned to the South, ice on rivers and lakes started to melt, and new birds started to show up almost immediately. Red winged blackbirds started to invade south Michigan, along with Grackles. Hundreds of Canada Geese started to fly north, as well as other waterfowls. Temperatures reached the low 60F (15C).
Encouraged by the balmy weather, I decided to take a look at the Lake Erie Gun Club, just a few hundred yards north of the Michigan/Ohio border, on the lake Erie. But first I could not help but to stop at Belleville Lake for the 5 long tailed ducks that had been reported earlier. This duck, rather popular among the french scrabble and crosswords players (kakawi is a native american word meaning "see duck", and there is only one "K" in the french scrabble version, so you have to use a blank), is quite rare in Michigan, and it is always a joy to see them around here. On the lake, a few redheads and common mergansers, with 6 goldeneyes and the 5 long tailed ducks. The ducks came extremely close from where I was, and I enjoyed every second of it.

Goldeneye, digiscoped

Long Tailed Duck (harelde kakawi), digiscoped

Long Tailed Duck (harelde kakawi), digiscoped

Later, at the Lake Erie Gun Club (a quite remarkable conservation story, where hunters and conservationists collaborated to preserve a rather unique marsh), the 5 miles loop around the marsh provided a very pleasant birding experience. Hundreds of Grackles and RW blackbirds were present, as well as the first few song sparrows of the year. But the Highlights of the day were definitly a nice flock of Pintails (Canard Pilet), as well as Northen Shovelers. A few killdeers (First of Year) were there, already, and I spotted 4 bald eagles (3 Juveniles, 1 Adult).

Bald Eagle, digibinned


Shelly said...

Great sightings! We've had a lot of new sightings in Ohio recently also. It's been in the 60's here and the birds are loving it.

troutbirder said...

Thanks for the pics and the Scrabble tip. Now maybe I can beat my spouse at it after years of trying...and failing.

Laurent said...

Thanks all for your comments....Shelly : the birds like the 60' do I!!!!!

troutbirder : it only works if you play scrabble in French, by the way!

Anonymous said...

I just found your great blog today after a bike trip along the Huron. We stopped to look at the swans and mallards and saw a couple of all-green ducks in the mix. I came home and couldn't find anything like them in my bird book. Do you know what they are? Am bookmarking your blog, thanks!

Laurent said...

All green? Are you referring to the feral mallard that has been around Gallup Park for I think 4 years? I did not know there were two of them, I can only remember one. But most likely they are feral duck. Google "feral mallard" and see. Thanks for your comment

Anonymous said...

Laurent, thanks for responding to my query about the all-green duck on the Huron. How interesting! I did see some other mottled ducks floating around and suspected they were a Heinz-57 variety. In my Google search, I didn't see anything exactly like the green ducks but saw enough crazy mixed-up colors and patterns to think you are right! BTW, I just had a pair of Sandhill Cranes fly and honk over my house. A nice way to stat the day. Thanks, Amy.

Laurent said...

Heinz 57? I think you know more than I do about Feral ducks!

free custom essay said...

FERLA DUCK??? LOL, never heard about it. tell us more, please.