Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cackling at Cavanaugh Lake

As I was unseccesfully chasing a surf scooter that was reported on Cavanaugh Lake last Sunday, I came accross this groupe of geese. The smallest one is certainly a Cackling, but what's about the the intermediate ?

Monday, October 13, 2008

One more perfect day

Last week end was another 2 perfect days of fall. Bright sun, crispy temperature in the morning, beautiful foliage colors....I was basically as good as it can get in Michigan, and I know many people from europe who come (or wish to come) in the northern states of the USA, only to experience these wonderful indian summer days....

The beach

The beach (2)

Of course, the main problem is that these days are too few, and that it is certainly difficult to forget that winter is coming soon. Somehow, though, thinking about all the winter birds I have not seen for a while (would it not be cool to see some redpolls again?), and of all the other chances I will get to miss my nemesis bird (the rough legged hawk), this does not actually seems too bad. Winter also means being able to oversleep during the week end AND being able to be out birding at sunrise

But let's live in the present.....

The arb was full of birds both saturday and sunday. Sparrows (song, white-throated and white crowned) were numerous. A kernel of 24 turkey vultures (urubu a tete rouge) was seen soaring on the east side of the prairie. Ruby crown kinglets (and some golden crown too) were also present about everywhere in the arb.

Amoung the best sighting of these two outing were a late tennessee warbler, 2 coopers hawk, and a brown thrasher (good eye, Diane!), and a couple of yellow bellied sapsuckers. Also seen was a Rosebreasted Grosbeak.

Tennesse Warbler (paruline obscure), digibinned

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (pic macule), digibinned

White Throated Sparrow

Brown Thrasher (Moqueur Roux), digibinned

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Orienteering and Birding don't mix

Orienteering race last week end, at Peach Mountain. Orienteering is another of my hobbies. The goal is to find controls in a forest, helped only with a Map and a Compass. Despite my very modest skills and physical strength, I always try to be as good as possible during these races. I can even admit that I always secretly hope to beat a few of my fellow orienteers.

Last Sunday was at Peach Mountain, one of my favorite "map" for orienteering (although my results from last years were proven to be rather mediocre). Peach Mountain is a very cool place by itself. It is own by the university of Michigan, and is mostly used for astronomical research (there is several radiotelescopes). But Peach Mountain is also a very great place for birding, with a wide variety of habitats. Grassy openings, pine groves, sandy pits. I secretly hope that one day, I will find a crossbill somewhere in the pine groves

As I was leaving control 3 of this race, and I was rather satisfied of this first third of the race. I went almost straight from control to control, with basically no mistake. I was going toward control 4, rather slowly, but expecting great difficulties. A 1 km strech through the woods, with no trail whatsoever. Obviously a great segment to loose or win a lot of time. As I was jogging though the magnificent forest (almost at its fall prime!!!) I heard trouble ahead.

No, reader, this was not the owling of a migratring wolf, a hungry bear or even worst, a cranky skunk.

That was the distinctive call of a pileated woodpecker. Rats.

Now, let me tell you. The Pileated woodpecker is a VERY cool bird. It is the biggest woodpecker in the US (let's not start here to debate on the possible existence of the Ivory-billed woodpecker). Although not particularly rare in Michigan, it is almost non existent on the east side of Wasthenaw County, where I usually birdwatch. So hearing this great bird gave me some shiverings......

A few more steps toward the West direction....I can hear the bird going approximatly the same direction. But I can not see it. Unless I go a little bit south. Not a big difference for my race...all I have to do is to be very carefull and keep an eye on the shape of this spur other there..... So here I go, a bit south, then a little bit more south, then west, chasing both my control 4 and my woodpecker.......

The results of the race? Let's say the forest was magnificent and that I enjoyed every minute I spend there.