Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Again, July 9

I returned to Seney NWR to try for Sharp-tailed Grouse and hope for a better look at the Le Conte's Sparrows.  I walked the whole three miles to the end of the C-3 pool.  I did not find a Le Conte's Sparrow, but did see a Sandhill Crane along the gravel road.  In addition, as I approached the 2 mile point (estimated), I flushed a grouse from the side of the road.  This was a Sharp-tailed Grouse, because I could see the pointed tail as it flew west cackling.  It was not a Ruffed Grouse, because when it spread its tail to land in the grass and bushes west of the pool, the tail was not banded as in Ruffed Grouse.  I suspect that this grouse was a female of young bird of the year, because it lacked the white at the base of a male Sharp-tailed Grouse.  I found some ripe low bush blueberries near the three mile point on the road, and enjoyed them before I walked back to my car.  I'm getting plenty of exercise this year with lots of hiking and walking.  On my way back to my car, I met two college students who are completing a breeding survey of Black Terns for the University of Minnesota and a graduate student working on her thesis.  By the time that I got back to my car, it was about 4:00 to 4:30 pm.  I decided to try a shorter hike to a wildfire area that the staff person told me about, where a Black-backed Woodpecker had been reported last fall.  She was right about the Le Conte's Sparrow and Sharp-tailed Grouse.  Perhaps, I would get lucky again, because sunset is not until about 10:00 pm.  I arrived at the gate along the wildlife drive where I needed to start this hike.  Two close-by Common Loons started calling.  It was awesome!  It was an easy hike back to the burn site, only about 2 miles.  I was expecting a large burn site, but found minimal evidence of a recent burn.  Perhaps, I was in the wrong area.  On the way in, I saw an American Bittern flying, as well as a Northern Harrier.  Close to the location of the burn site, I found a calling Broad-winged Hawk. 

A quick note about American Bittern.  Usually, they are difficult to find in Ohio.  However, since I arrived in Michigan, I have seen about four American Bitterns.  I saw one flying at Tuttle Marsh, and one flying when I first arrived at Seney NWR yesterday.  I saw another American Bittern today at Seney NWR for a total of two today.   If I needed American Bittern on my year list, Michigan surely would have been the place to come to see one.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Michigan.  I will make one more try for Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in the morning and then will head south and east to New York state before heading home.  As I write this entry, I am east of Cleveland, Ohio and heading shortly to New York state to try for Bicknell's Thrush on Slide Mountain in the Catskills.

Sharp-tailed Grouse is a new bird for the year, yielding a total of 535.


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