Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuttle Marsh and Road, On to the UP, July 7, 2013

Today, July 7, I returned to Tuttle Marsh Road to try for the Golden-winged Warbler and Black-billed Cuckoo, because I was not successful in finding these birds late yesterday at Tuttle Marsh.  I started at the north entrance to Tuttle Marsh Road, because the directions from the last report of Golden-winged Warbler on e Bird took me that way.  It was clear from the beginning at the north entrance to Tuttle Marsh Road that the habitat was not good for Golden-winged Warbler.  There were singing Nashville Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Cedar Waxwings, House Wren and Ovenbirds.  I continued birding my way to the south entrance to Tuttle Marsh Road, which appeared to have the best habitat for Golden-winged Warbler, an old pasture with bushes.

At the south entrance, I soon found a small family flock of Golden-winged Warblers, a male and a female and a fledgling that was all gray and still doing the rapid wing flutter to attract the attention of the adults.   The female had the Golden-winged face pattern but the color was not black but dark gray like the back color.  The face pattern and throat of this male was not as fully dark black as a full breeding plumage male in the spring but had a little white mixed in with the black to make the color not dark black but a more muted black.  The edges of the black on the throat were a little ragged.  This Golden-winged Warbler may have been a younger male.  It had the complete pattern of a male Golden-winged but not the intense black on the face and throat that I expected for a male breeding plumage Golden-winged Warbler.  I consulted my copy of Warblers by Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett for this identification.  I do not recall seeing a female Golden-winged Warbler recently, if ever.

As I was celebrating my success  in a small parking area with the rest of my breakfast, a Black-billed Cuckoo called giving the grated clucking call.  I was celebrating, because Golden-winged Warblers soon disappear from breeding habitat and are difficult to see in fall migration.  I tried to see the cuckoo but could not find it.  I also found Chestnut-sided Warbler and a calling Sandhill Crane in the area.

At about 9:00 am, I left the Tuttle Marsh area and stopped at the two spots where Northern Goshawk had been reported on e Bird close to Tawas City.  I did not find a Northern Goshawk at the first location on Galion Road near the intersection with Lorenz Road, but found singing Hermit Thrush and Pine Warbler.  My GPS worked for this location; therefore, I was sure that I found the correct location.  At the second location on Curtis Road west of Vaughn Road, I also did not find a Northern Goshawk but had a behavior of an Eastern Kingbird that suggested that a Northern Goshawk had responded to the alarm call that I played.  The Eastern Kingbird was scolding and moving as it scolded, but this behavior was not apparently directed toward my playing of the Northern Goshawk alarm call but in a different direction.  I suspect that a Northern Goshawk responded to the alarm call and the Eastern Kingbird responded to the Northern Goshawk by chasing it as Eastern Kingbirds often do for any hawk.  I stayed at this location for about 30 minutes looking for the Northern Goshawk and the Eastern Kingbird but both birds disappeared.  A Black-billed Cuckoo called giving the grating clucking call.  I played a Black-billed Cuckoo song, the "cu-cu-cu-cu-cu" and two adult Black-billed Cuckoos flew into an alder near the road.  I saw the red eye ring and the black bill both upper and lower mandibles and the crisp sharp white throat, breast and belly and brown upper parts with a touch of red in the wing when both birds flew away.  Nice confirmation.  I also flushed a small group of half grown Ruffed Grouse from the roadside.  I saw the small crests on these brownish birds as they flew back into the woods giving high pitched squealing or peeping notes.  Nice to actually see a Ruffed Grouse since I only heard a distant one drumming in the spring in southeastern Ohio. 

I had a great deal of difficulty finding the second location for Northern Goshawk, and am not sure that I was in the correct location given in e Bird.  The location was given as Curtis Road, but the road I was on was not named.  My GPS was lost both times that I tried to find this location yesterday and today.  Today, I stopped by a quick stop and gas station and asked if there was a map that references to the forest road numbers and names.  I bought a snowmobile map that helped somewhat by giving the forest road number for Curtis Road.  However, the road that I believe was Curtis Road did not have the forest road number from this new map along it or at intersections anywhere that I checked.  This is an apparent common problem in the area according to the people at the quick stop gas station. 

Great success for the morning!  Two target birds.  I left the Tawas City area and headed north to the UP.  I arrived in the Hulbert area at about 5:30 pm on W. Basnau  Road to look for the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher reported there recently in e Bird.  For this location, my GPS worked and I am sure that I found the correct location.  There was not much bird activity at first but I found Golden-crowned Kinglets and Black-capped Chickadees with young as well as singing Nashville Warbler.  Bird activity picked up at about 7:00 to 7:30 pm.  I heard singing Swainson's Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart and Winter Wren as well as Hermit Thrushes.   This road is apparently close to Hulbert Bog.  At about 8:00 - 8:30 pm I decided to leave and get a room for the night.  

I stayed the night at Tahquamenon Hotel in Hulbert under new ownership, who are repairing it from a run-down by the previous owner.  He had a lot of business this past winter due to the snow and the snow mobile crowd.  I had a long conversation with the new owner about why I was there, my Big Year and birding in the area.  He said that local people often see "fools hens" which is a local name for Spruce Grouse along that road early in the morning and at dusk.  I had dinner at the bar across the street, the only place nearby to get food, and decided to drive out to Basnau Road to look for grouse on the road.  I arrived at 9:45 pm and drove slowly, scanning ahead with binoculars.  There were a lot of rabbits on the road.  There was one very distant bird that looked like a grouse, but it could have been a rabbit in an unusual pose.  I was not able to for sure identify that grouse-rabbit.  I drove Basnau Road back toward Hulbert from Rt. 28.  It was getting quite dark then and hard to see, and I found no grouse. 

My room at the hotel was clean, the bed comfortable and the bath room clean and functional.  I had difficulty getting internet access to update my blog, and I was too tired to try to use the hotel Wi Fi.  It was good choice to get back out to Basnau road early in the morning tomorrow, July 8. 

Golden-winged Warbler and Black-billed Cuckoo, two target birds for this trip, raise the total to 532.           




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