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A Year of Birds: September 2022

                                        September 2022

The days are still warm at the beginning of September, and there are plenty of bird sightings along the beaches and marshes. Today, on the way into town, I stopped by a local marsh on the river, and saw a pair of Greater yellow legs there, wading and fishing.

I have a friend who asked me “Why do these birds stand on one leg?” I don’t know; and welcome learning from anyone who does

Then, on the way home, I saw a great egret flying in the grassy marsh across from Misery Bay; it was a beautiful bird.

The kildeer are still here, and when walking late one afternoon along the shores of the bay, I saw one walking along the shore. He saw me, and took off flying; he was lovely in the sunlight as it glinted off his wings.  

This kildeer is showing the colors under its wings as it flies

During that same walk, I saw a lesser yellow legs on the beach, wading in and out of the water and searching for food.

A lone shorebird is searching for food on the beach

There is a flicker that has been hanging out near an ant’s nest in the yard. I often see him in the early morning or later afternoon, eating the ants. I love the bold coloring of these birds, from the red spot on their heads to their speckled chests.  He doesn’t seem that afraid of me, and I can get fairly close on some occasions.

This flicker looks a bit surprised at the attention I am paying him

As the days get shorter, the sun is lower when I hike the beaches and marshes in the early evening. I can feel that fall is coming, and I am sure that the birds do, as well. I saw another egret in the marsh off the bay, wading in the waters; it was beautifully reflected in the waters by the late afternoon sun. I will probably do a painting of this scene, or a similar one.  

Egrets and marshes combine two of my favorite things in nature

During this same walk, I also saw a yellow leg in the marsh; it must be feeding before migrating.

As the days pass, the weather is getting quite windy, and the lake is very choppy with waves. I saw some brave mallards and seagulls by the water, looking quite windblown!

I also saw a young grouse by the roadside; it stood still, so I got a photo before driving on. I hope this one will be more careful, since roads are not the safest place for birds that tend to walk and forage on the ground.

This grouse is looking wary as I take its photo

The “old man” heron is still here; I saw him on top of some grasses and wire in the marsh. He seems to realize that I am not a threat, and let me take his picture, seeming quite calm and even a bit interested as I did so. These are beautiful birds, and Il will miss the herons when they migrate in a few weeks.

While hiking in Presque Isle, I saw a sparrow that was nestled in the trees. I heard his vocalization first, then saw him fluttering among the branches near the trail. While common, I love to hear sparrow songs.

On another day, I saw a blue heron in the marsh near Misery Bay again. He seems to “hang out” here quite a bit, and as the days are getting shorter, I cherish every sighting, since I know that soon he will be migrating south.

Aren’t Great Blue Herons beautiful?

 In fact, as I was hiking by the beach later in the day, the geese confirmed this feeling: they are starting to gather together, and to practice taking off and landing in the waters of the bay. Soon they, too, will be flying where it is warmer.

During this same walk, I saw a blue jay in a tree, and caught a photo of him. I also saw several mergansers swimming; they also are beginning to gather together again in anticipation of migrating.

The Geese are practicing their takeoff and landing

As the month passes and daylight hours are shortening rapidly, I saw groups of migrating greater yellow legs gathered on the beach on their flight south. They like to stop by and feed in the waters of the bay for a day or so before continuing on their journey. One in particular let me get fairly close before he walked away.

The yellow legs are gathering together as they rest during migration

While driving through Brighton (outside of Ann Arbor) I saw an amazing sight: a group of sandhill cranes, all in their pristine gray plumage. While I knew that their feathers are naturally gray, I had only seen ochre stained ones up north. This group of cranes seems to be fed by whoever lives where they were gathered; they seemed quite used to people and didn’t mind my taking their picture at all. I was so surprised to see cranes seemingly quite comfortable in the middle of an urban suburb, just blocks away from a shopping mall. This shows how very adaptable birds are; as their natural habitat is encroached on, they find ways to survive regardless.

I never thought I would see cranes gathered in someone’s yard

Now that the weather is turning cooler, I am still seeing birds, but know that they will be migrating very soon. I happened to see a robin on a branch vocalizing while hiking. Later on the walk, I saw three killdeer on the beach; they are also starting to gather into groups in preparation for flying south.

This was one of the three kildeer on the beach near where I live

There is a hawk that likes to sit on a utility pole on the way into town. I stopped and took his photo; he didn’t move at all, only looked at me. The hawks will stay through the winter, and I am sure I will keep seeing this one.

Hawks are such beautiful birds with their distinctly marked feathers

As September ends, I saw a lone egret huddled down in the cool weather on Misery Bay. I am sure that with the frosts starting, and the drop in temperature into the low 30’s (F), that this may be one of my last egret sightings. I will miss them, and am grateful that I was able to see this one.

The weather is definitely getting colder and this egret looks like it wants to be in the warmer temperatures to the south

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