Monday, June 26, 2017

Henslow's Sparrow in Wayne Co. - 25 Jun 2017

I drove back to Willow Metropark in Huron Twp., Wayne Co., MI to look for the Henslow's Sparrow that Robin and I found yesterday. I parked at Washago Pond parking lot and found Don Sherwood and Cathy Carroll viewing the bird(s) in the same location as yesterday. I quickly joined them and waited for one of the birds to appear so that I could digiscope it. If anyone told me I'd have to wait 10 years to get the photos I got today I would have gladly waited.

Within minutes a Henslow's Sparrow appeared atop the largest milkweed plant in the field (about 30' away) and posed and sang for several minutes while I digiscoped it against the dark woods in the background.

Don was just telling me about seeing a Red-headed Woodpecker at Pt. Mouillee when one appeared on the trees just behind us! It posed for several minutes while we turned our attention away from the prize in front of us.

We spent the next 30 minutes or so viewing and digiscoping the bird as it posed and sang atop the milkweed. A second bird was singing about 100' away near the Willow Tree.


Just before leaving a Red-tailed Hawk appeared overhead carrying what looked like a baby Robin.

Henlow's Sparrow @ Conservancy Farm - 24 Jun 2017

"Tse-LIK!" Sparrow lovers will recognize this call almost instantly. It comes from one of the most sought-after Ammodramus sparrows in this area, and one of the most inconspicuous birds, at that. Henslow's Sparrow (A. henslowii) has been somewhat of a nemesis bird for me as I have never been able to get a decent photo of it. Until today.

I drove back out to Superior Twp. this morning to look for the Henslow's Sparrow that's been frequenting the Conservancy Farm fields. Since I only had a very short time to bird today it was a good choice. Hell, it was a GREAT choice!

I walked around back of the big red barn and immediately heard the calls of Bobolink, Song Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, and even a Dickcissel! As I walked the two-track toward the woods I got no farther than the mulch piles when I heard the distinct-but-faint "hiccup" call of the bird. How I heard it over all of the racket from the other birds I'll never know, but there it was. So I planted the scope, grabbed the cameras, and waited.

In short time it popped out of the grass and fluttered over to some other grass just 30' away and proceeded to sing. Since winds were picking up and the grass was swaying I got the scope on it and decided my best chance for a clean frame would come from a 4K video.  After several minutes of recording it I took the chance to digiscope it. It did not disappoint.

For seconds at a time the grass would seem to part, exposing the tiny olive-green bird to a burst of frames from the Sony a6300. Focus-peaking helped tremendously, allowing me to get some nice feather detail in its head and back feathers.

When it finally dropped back down into obscurity I headed back to the organic garden area and took a few images of the many male Bobolink that were singing from more traditional perches.

The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was perched nearby, but too far for any pics. It buzzed passed me and disappeared into the garden area.

I heard the Dickcissel singing from the corner of the garden, so I walked over just as it flew to one of the bluebird boxes and sang for several minutes. I managed a few digiscoped images before it flew off into the field.

Since I needed to be back home by 9 am I headed out and back to the car.

Here's a nice write-up from Audubon regarding the Henslow's Sparrow.

Dickcissels @ Pt. Mouillee SGA - 21 Jun 2017

2017 is turning out to be an irruption year for Dickcissels in the Great Lakes Region. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is finding these rare sparrows and posting wonderful photos on social media and personal websites. This evening, I had the opportunity to join them! A total of 10 Dickcissels were seen at Pt. Mouillee SGA in Monroe Co., MI.

Four were seen along the North Causeway at the south end of the Long Pond Unit. Another was seen at the junction of Vermet and Long Pond Units, and two more along the Middle Causeway and south end of Vermet. I then saw 3 driving down Haggerman at the Antennae Farm.

Bobolinks! - 18 Jun 2017

Conservancy Farm, Superior Twp., MI. Bobolinks, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Eastern Bluebird, Henslow's Sparrow (heard only), Sedge Wren (heard only).