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A Year of Birds

                                        October 2022

The weather is swinging between very cold at night and warmer during the day as October starts. Today, I saw a blue heron that is still here in spite of the cooling days.

Blue heron in the marshy grass

This heron is one of those staying around

When I went out to dinner in Presque Isle, I did some bird watching near the light house, and saw a brown creeper. At first, I thought it was a nuthatch creeping up and down the tree, but then saw its mottled coloring. This is the first time I have sighted one, since they blend in so well with the tree bark.

This brown creeper blended almost perfectly with the bark he was on

During that same trip, I saw several muskrats in the water; they were on opposite sides of the marsh. They are very quick on land (one ran into the water as I watched), and are fast swimmers.

I am seeing yellow rumped warblers, as they are migrating. These are pretty birds, and they like to sit in the sun. I also saw an egret (they are still here!) in the marsh near Squaw Bay.

yellow rumped warbler

The deer are everywhere! Each time I drive into town, I see them at the roadsides, and have to drive cautiously since they like to cross the road at random times. I have also seen several that like to come and browse on the lawn in the early morning and late evening.

As I was walking the beach, I saw a small black “lump” on a tree. I focused my camera, and got a picture; it is a small falcon or a kestrel, but it was so late that it was basically a silhouette, making identification difficult.

The blue jays are also active now, and add bright color to the trees. The trees are starting to change color, and this makes me realize that cold weather is soon to follow.

The mallards are starting to gather, and can be seen flying over the marshes and grassy areas next to the water.

I am seeing sparrows quite a bit, including wood sparrows and white throated sparrows. I also saw what may be a kinglet in a tree while hiking.

I was taking some photos of yellow legs and egrets, when I noticed some ducks nearby. I took a photo, and realized it was a female wood duck! I love these beautiful birds, and was excited to get the picture.

Now that the days are cooler, and the birds are migrating, I am seeing more bald eagles. There is one that flies over the bay very frequently, and the other evening during a hike, I saw a pair sitting in a tree next to the bay. The fishing must be pretty good there, because they come here now frequently.  They are out more now that there are less people on the bay, since many people also go south for the winter this time of year.

Bald eagle flying over Misery Bay

Eagles are beautiful birds and stay through the winter here

One clear, crisp afternoon (the high was in the low 40’s) I saw the geese gathered on the bay. And then I saw a blue heron flying; the juveniles are still here (the adults migrate first). I was so glad to see that the herons are still around.

The yellow legs are gathering in the marshes and on the bay in preparation for migration. Now, when I go for walks on what I call “egret point” (since I have seen so many egrets there this past year), I hear the high-pitched “kew” call, and see them feeding in the swamps, and flying together in formations when disturbed.

Migrating yellow legs on rocks

I also have seen the mallards gathered on the marsh. These mallards are wild, and will fly away if I get too close.

Each day, now, as October progresses I see the ducks flying overhead. I wave goodbye to these beautiful birds who make the warmer months so delightful.

ducks flying over the bay

The swans are now seen more often on the bay, since the summer tourists are gone. I have seen a family with their young floating and feeding near the point many times. As the water gets colder, the swans move from the rivers to Lake Huron. I have also seen one lone swan – he seems to be a loner-floating on the waters of the bay.

Family of mute swans on a Michigan bay

There are so many birds migrating now. The other day, I took a photo of bird that I don’t recognize, but it is beautiful, a rich brown with lovely eyes and markings. I will have to look this one up.

When I went to Presque Isle again to hike, I saw a warbler; it was so cute, and quite friendly.

Now that October is coming to a close, I am seeing juncos everywhere. They appear in the fall as some of them migrate from further north; some will stay all winter long. I saw one on the beach, and took his portrait.

Junco on the beach

The sparrows are still around, too. Now, when I go out to the point, it is mainly juncos and sparrows that have remained, as well as the chickadees. I admire these hardy birds that can survive the cold weather that comes to northeast Michigan during the cooler months.

sparrow in a bush in the marsh

As October closes, the marshes and bays are much quieter, other than occasional mergansers still floating on the waters in the mornings. Many of the birds have gone south, and I am now enjoying the regular winter birds.

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