Friday, January 4, 2013

Northern Michigan Birding

On January 3rd, I escaped Lansing for a couple days and started my birding in Rudyard, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. I drove from Lansing very early, driving through the dark to arrive at sunrise. I noticed two Pine Grosbeaks along the side of the road, so I turned around to photograph them. It was then I noticed a feeder. On this feeder was where I noticed a bird that threw me off... big time. I finally recognized it as a Greenfinch, and a quick Google search from my phone identified it as a European Greenfinch. Cool!

European Greenfinch in Rudyard, MI

Unfortunately, this will go down as an escaped cage bird and will not count on my official "big year", but it was something different, anyway. After photographing the Greenfinch, I finally got around to photographing the Pine Grosbeaks.

Pine Grosbeak

I then moved to the now-famous Northern Hawk Owl spot on the corner of S. Dryburg road and H40. The Owl was not hard to spot hunting from the top of a tree alongside the road.

Northern Hawk Owl

It was shortly after I turned my car around I noticed these Sharp-tailed Grouse sitting in a tree just off the main road. This is too easy, I thought.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, photographed with an iPhone through scope.

Heading back into Rudyard, on Centerline Road, finding a Snowy Owl was a piece of cake.

Snow Owl, also digiscoped

Having cleaned up the main targets, I moved to the Dafter Landfill which was full of gulls. There was a semi-ridiculous amount of Glaucous Gulls of all ages. An adult Great Black-backed Gull was also easy to pick out. I found one other white-winged gull that appears to be a quite "dark-primaried" Iceland Gull, but I need to study it more.

Great Black-backed Gull

Glaucous Gull
I also managed a very poor iPhone digiscoped photo of a Northern Shrike in fading light.

Northern Shrike digiscoped in fading light

I decided to drive back south of the bridge and stay the night with my grandparents that live in Rapid City. After a good sleep, I spent the day birding in Elk Rapids where there was open water. I photographed a smattering of ducks in the harbor.

Hooded Merganser

Common Goldeneye

I spent some time driving back roads looking for finches but didn't find much. I then went back to my grandparents house and photographed feeder birds. I won't bore you with the basics, but here is possibly my favorite photo from the trip. A cooperative Brown Creeper!

Brown Creeper

Of course, if you want to see some other images of varying quality of the more common stuff, they can be found on the flickr page that is a work in progress.

Keep checking back for more updates. I don't have anything too crazy lined up for the next few weeks, but in late January I depart for Florida. I'll keep photographing around Michigan until then. One of these nights I'll focus on some more owls.

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