Michigan Big Year Part 21: July 6 & 12
I had come home from my arduous but successful walk at Point Mouilee on July 5 to find another rare bird report, this time in Kalamazoo, 90 minutes south. There would not be time that day. I couldn't make it before dark. I went to bed desperately hoping this southwestern dove would stick around! The morning of July 6 found me heading south.
The last ten minutes of the drive are always desperation for me. I almost never lose my cool driving but, the last ten minutes of the drive to a rare bird "stake out" are different. I have a cool indy rock station on Pandora that helps me keep my bearings and I have come to depend on it to keep me sane. A few songs from Cake, Cage the Elephant, and Eels brought me too another residential neighborhood. This time it was not a surprise, the homeowner was welcoming visitors and was reported to have a viewing gallery of lawn chairs set up for birders. As I rounded the garage, I saw a modest crowd on the lawn and was pleased to be situated next to my friend, Tim Cornish, who I'd encountered several times this year. The bird was NOT showing when I arrived. Naturally. As the gathering throng waited and watched, Tim and I shared stories from the field. This would be a life bird for both of us...if it showed. Then, just like clockwork, the dove flew into the yard, much to the obvious delight of the crowd as evidenced by the OOOOs and AHHHHs. My photography skills had improved, especially with birds that are considerate enough to pose and stay put. Tim and I took all the shots we needed, along with video. As I packed up to leave, who turns the corner of the garage but Robert Lawshe. I'm really appreciating having these two to share the hunt with!
#298 White-winged dove
July 12 Andrea and were in Muskegon at the wastewater system looking for early shorebirds in migration. Sandpipers make the most remarkable journeys from their winter homes to breed in the high arctic, often returning south in mid-July. Many of them are adults in worn feathers, other in fresh juvenile plumage. The birding was hot and smelly on July 12. We did manage a few small sandpipers and yellowlegs. Among the shorebirds foraging in the flooded field we found birds smaller than the yellowlegs but larger than the "peeps". ( In case I haven't prefaced the work "peep" in birder language yet, I'm referring to a group of tiny sandpipers inlcuding semi-palmated, least , and western sandpipers. ) The intermediate sandpipers include pectoral and our new discovery. this one foraged with its body held horizontally and had a buff colored face and neck.
#299 Baird's sandpiper