(For full photo report by Sam Burckhardt, go to ILBirds.com-COS Kirtland Warbler Trip.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Eleven birders arrived from Chicago, Friday evening. We had dinner in East Tawas, then proceeded to our house, the Sanctuary, north of town. After claiming the rooms and settling in, we went for a stroll around the property.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We rose between 5 and 6 A.M., ate breakfast and fixed sandwiches, and left the house at 7 A.M. to drive to the Kirtland’s Warbler Restoration Project at Curtis and Kobs Roads in Wilber Township, Iosco County. On the way we started picking up the first target birds, such as Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Savannah Sparrows. Other birds of note were a fly-over Common Loon, Solitary Sandpiper, and Alder Flycatcher. Once at the restoration project we saw more than a dozen Brewer’s Blackbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, and a few Vesper Sparrows, all typical for this location. We parked our cars and were greeted by several singing Kirtland’s Warblers. They were easy to hear but defied any looks. After walking along one of the paths, we saw first a female Kirtland’s flying across the road which gave us very nice looks. A little later, a male came and perched in the vicinity and sang from a perch where it was seen by all. In total, we saw and heard eight Kirtland’s Warblers. When we got back toward the cars we saw a pair of Common Nighthawks.

We drove through East Tawas to Tawas Point State Park, a site know for its great potential. Situated at the north-eastern edge of Tawas Bay it is the first point of land for many migrants coming across the bay. After lunch, we found another target bird: Piping Plovers which nest at the Point. We saw a pair, both banded individuals. Walking inland toward the point we started seeing a nice array of migrants, starting with a Yellow-throated Vireo and later a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, all possible species of swallows, 21 species of warblers, among them Golden-winged and Canada, over 50 Baltimore Orioles and a few Orchard Orioles. Among non-passerines were a troupe of 18 Black-bellied Plovers, calling from the air, a Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlins, Bonaparte’s Gulls, and Common Terns.

On the way back to our house we stopped at Lake Tawas and picked-up the last target species for the day, Black Tern. Also present were a late Common Goldeneye and a Trumpeter Swan.

After dinner, some of us headed out and started looking and listening for owls. We came up short, however, heard American Woodcocks, and encountered a juvenile Red-shouldered or Broad-winged Hawk that came crashing down through the tree tops. It was able to get back off the ground and disappeared into the night.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

We left the house, again, at 7 A.M. and drove to Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area. On the way we heard a couple of Ruffed Grouse drumming in the woods, as well as a beautifully ethereal Wood Thrush. At the southern end of the marsh we started looking for a Purple Gallinule that had been present the week prior. We didn’t relocate it, but soon found a very cooperative singing Golden-winged Warbler. A little later, we heard the song of a Blue-winged Warbler, however, we never got any looks at the bird and don’t know if it was a Golden-winged singing the Blue-winged song. We got to see Trumpeter Swans, one American Bittern in flight, Ospreys, Bald Eagle and an adult Broad-winged Hawk, both Soras and Virginia Rails, Sandhill Cranes, Alder Flycatchers, Marsh Wrens, a signing Veery, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Common Raven.

We were joined by my friend Matt Hegwood who showed us a spot along the AuSable River where he usually hears Winter Wrens. However, since we got there in the middle of the day, we didn’t hear or see them. We saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and typical warblers and sparrows. Wood Frogs were a nice non-avian addition.

We drove along the other side of the AuSable River to a spot called Iargo Springs and descended the three-hundred some steps down to the bottom of the river. A Pileated Woodpecker flew by and we saw quite a few holes it had drilled into trees, and heard Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warblers, and Scarlet Tanager.

Our last stop before dinner was the old Wurtsmith Airforce Base. Shortly after arriving at the site we found one Upland Sandpiper foraging through the grass. Other target birds were Horned Larks and Grasshopper Sparrows, and we found more Bobolinks and Brewer’s Blackbirds.

We had dinner at Wiltsey’s Brew Pub in Oscoda. The beer tasted great and it was nice to rest and socialize for a while. Afterward, we drove back through Tuttle Marsh and stayed until after dusk to listen to Ruffed Grouse, American Bittern, a Black-crowned Night-Heron, and American Woodcock which we all heard. One Eastern Screech-Owl vocalized shortly, and we saw a Great Horned Owl up against the ruby red evening sky hunting (possibly bats) from an exposed perch. Another memorable bird was a fast moving Merlin being mobbed by swallows. Once it was all dark, we heard several Eastern Whip-poor-wills. The moonless night sky was full of stars, and despite an army of swarming insects (or maybe because of them) the evening was a success.

photo by Sam Burckhardt

photo by Sam Burckhardt

Monday, May 26, 2014

After two days of birding from sun-up to well after dark, we all slept in and started our last day at 8 A.M. with a walk through our neighbors’ forested parcel. The 110 acres are in good shape and have many small micro-habitats, such as two ponds, stands of Hemlock Pines, aspen groves, birch and white pines, and older oaks and maples. We started the walk by hearing a singing Winter Wren down by Silver Creek. Ruffed Groused were heard drumming on several occasions. We had a Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, two singing Yellow-throated Vireos, heard and saw Common Ravens, Veery, Hermit and Wood Thrushes, many Pine Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and an Indigo Bunting. The most exciting bird, and a first for my site list which now stands at 155 species, was a Hooded Warbler. First heard, we were able to track it down and get decent looks of this male. At times, it was aggressively chasing Red-eyed Vireos. This is just about as far north and east as this species comes in Michigan.

It was another memorable Memorial Day trip. In less than three days, we saw and heard 147 different species. Here is a list of all species seen:

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Trumpeter Swan - Cygnus buccinator
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Blue-winged Teal - Anas discors
Common Goldeneye - Bucephala clangula
Ruffed Grouse - Bonasa umbellus
Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo
Common Loon - Gavia immer
Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps
Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus
American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Green Heron - Butorides virescens
Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Sharp-shinned Hawk - Accipiter striatus
Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk - Buteo lineatus
Broad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterus
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
Virginia Rail - Rallus limicola
Sora - Porzana carolina
Sandhill Crane - Grus canadensis
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Semipalmated Plover - Charadrius semipalmatus
Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus
Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus
Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius
Solitary Sandpiper - Tringa solitaria
Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes
Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda
Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
American Woodcock - Scolopax minor
Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
Caspian Tern - Hydroprogne caspia
Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura
Eastern Screech-Owl - Megascops asio
Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus
Common Nighthawk - Chordeiles minor
Eastern Whip-poor-will - Antrostomus vociferus
Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris
Belted Kingfisher - Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel - Falco sparverius
Merlin - Falco columbarius
Eastern Wood-Pewee - Contopus virens
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - Empidonax flaviventris
Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax alnorum
Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher - Myiarchus crinitus
Eastern Kingbird - Tyrannus tyrannus
Yellow-throated Vireo - Vireo flavifrons
Blue-headed Vireo - Vireo solitarius
Warbling Vireo - Vireo gilvus
Red-eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Purple Martin - Progne subis
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor
Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana
House Wren - Troglodytes aedon
Winter Wren - Troglodytes hiemalis
Marsh Wren - Cistothorus palustris
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Regulus calendula
Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis
Veery - Catharus fuscescens
Hermit Thrush - Catharus guttatus
Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina
American Robin - Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum
Ovenbird - Seiurus aurocapilla
Northern Waterthrush - Parkesia noveboracensis
Golden-winged Warbler - Vermivora chrysoptera
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia
Tennessee Warbler - Oreothlypis peregrina
Nashville Warbler - Oreothlypis ruficapilla
Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas
Hooded Warbler - Setophaga citrina
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla
Kirtland's Warbler - Setophaga kirtlandii
Cape May Warbler - Setophaga tigrina
Northern Parula - Setophaga americana
Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia
Bay-breasted Warbler - Setophaga castanea
Blackburnian Warbler - Setophaga fusca
Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
Chestnut-sided Warbler - Setophaga pensylvanica
Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens
Pine Warbler - Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata
Black-throated Green Warbler - Setophaga virens
Canada Warbler - Cardellina canadensis
Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla
Eastern Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerina
Field Sparrow - Spizella pusilla
Vesper Sparrow - Pooecetes gramineus
Savannah Sparrow - Passerculus sandwichensis
Grasshopper Sparrow - Ammodramus savannarum
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia
Swamp Sparrow - Melospiza georgiana
White-throated Sparrow - Zonotrichia albicollis
Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivacea
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus
Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea
Bobolink - Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Eastern Meadowlark - Sturnella magna
Brewer's Blackbird - Euphagus cyanocephalus
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater
Orchard Oriole - Icterus spurius
Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis

Blue-winged/Golden-winged Warbler - Vermivora cyanoptera/chrysoptera

- post and photos contributed by Sam Burckhardt