Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kirtland's Warbler - Mio Michigan

     I met my friend Mick Seymour in Mio on Wednsday to chase after Kirtland's Warblers... Its been years since I have seen one and now that I have the blog and the photography bug, I figured that it was time I revisit one of the coolest birds in Michigan... If not the USA.... So the alarm went off at 0330 on Wed and I headed out the door 15 minutes later.... After 3 hours on the road, I met Mick at the "deluxe" Motor Lodge we were going to be staying at, and we headed out to the two tracks....
     We turned onto Oscoda County Rd 604, with the windows down listening for any warblers or birds we might hear.... It didn't take long to hear something interesting.... We found a Vesper Sparrow calling from a tree... one of the three we would see in a twelve hour period.... another half mile down the road I heard another call... It took me a minute to realize what I was listening too, but sure enough it was a Lincoln's Sparrow.... It was early and the sun was just rising, but I managed a snapshot of the bird singing in the top of a small tree....  We eventually came to a point on 604 where the Jack Pines looked very young, and they were very thick all over a large field.... we turned left onto the two-track and right away noticed the sign stating that this was a Kirtland's Warbler area and no one was allowed to enter the field.... We stopped and listened, but still did not hear one calling... We drove another half a mile down the road and sure enough, we heard our first Male.... it was one of three that we would hear calling in the area that we were in, but the only one that was close enough to the road where we were able to get a few photos.... We also heard a Clay-colored Sparrow in the same area.... Thrilled that we had found Kirtland's Warblers within the first hour we were on the road, we continued on birding as we went.... Listening and stopping when we would hear something interesting.... We found a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and I was surprised to see them so late in the season..
    Mick and I headed back toward town and made the decision to head down Mckinley Rd, north of town.... I used to hunt in the area off of Old State Rd, so I was familiar with the area.... We took another two track thru the State Forest and managed to come across a Chestnut-Sided Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush.... as we headed down Lebay Road I decided to go down a little two track that bordered another field of young Jack Pines.... There was no sign designating it as a Kirtland Warbler area, but the habitat looked perfect.... we were about to leave the area when we heard one call right off the side of the two track.... we parked and grabbed our cameras, and within a few yards of the road there was a beautiful Kirtland's Warbler that was sitting in a small Jack Pine... he darted from the tree and then he would return.... We snapped a few photos and then left quickly.... not wanting to agitate him anymore..... being able to photograph 2 Kirtland's Warblers, that were on the opposite ends of town, in the same day, was pretty exciting.... In addition to the Kirtland's Warblers, Mick and I saw 62 Species for the day (not too bad for the beginning of summer)... Highlights include Lincoln Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, American Redstart, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bobolink, Scarlet Tanager, Black-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.... It was a 9 species Sparrow day!!  we struck out on Grasshopper Sparrow..... only 24 hours, but a great trip... click on photos to enlarge....

Kirtland's Warbler


Lincoln's Sparrow

Black-billed Cuckoo

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous photos, Paul! Thank you for sharing!