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A Year of Birds: April 2023

While still cold, with occasional flurries of snow, the days are finally getting a bit warmer, with temperatures creeping into the mid- to upper-30s at times.

While snow is still on the ground, it is gradually melting, and the mornings are misty with the evaporation in the air. The ice is nearly melted on the shores of the bay, and spring fling for the goldeneyes is in full swing. Large flocks come floating by in the morning at dawn, and as the days pass, the males fling their heads back whenever a female passes by, hoping to attract her attention.

While hiking, I saw an interesting sight: a seagull was upset with an eagle, and eventually chased him off after flying towards him as the eagle sat on his perch on top of a tree at a nearby point (a favorite spot of his for sighting fish and other prey on the waters below). The seagull continued chasing after him, until the eagle flew off.

The chickadees are still so cute, and I caught one with an expression that I couldn’t resist, on an early morning when I was bringing seed out.

During that same hike, I also saw a pair of Canadian Geese who had stopped to rest and eat during their migration north. The geese can be heard calling out as they fly overhead daily now. The great migration is in full swing as the days lengthen.

I also saw a junco one afternoon; this is the first junco I have seen last fall. While they usually stay around for winter, this year they didn’t, which surprised me. I am glad that this one got a good meal as he travels north.

Each day, as dawn comes, I love watching the goldeneyes as they display for one another on the bay. This is a time when the waters of the bay are busiest, with the goldeneyes engaging in the great dance to find a mate, and all types of birds fly back and forth all day long.

On Birdsong Bay, the mergansers are back! I saw a group of common mergansers floating on the waters of the bay (it looked like the females were chasing the male!), and then saw a male hooded merganser on the canals. I think they are gorgeous, with their large white hoods and chestnut coloring.

The Blue Herons are back! I saw my first one of the year on a marsh across from the bay, striding in the waters near some mergansers.

I also saw my first egret of the year – they are back at last! This really does mean spring is here, since they only show up when the air warms up, as it has been. Now, it rains instead of snowing, and the ground is starting to show up again from its snow blanket as the signs of winter leave and spring takes over.

For my birthday, I got a new telephoto lens. I am still learning how to use it, but got a nice picture of a pair of cranes at the bird sanctuary outside of Grayling. It was a rainy day, and I happened to catch them between times when it was raining. I think cranes are beautiful, and they are another sign that spring is definitely here.

I also saw a pair of common mergansers swimming. The next day, I went out to the point, and caught a photo of a male merganser on the bay on a windy day. He was bobbing up and down like a cork in the waters. They are amazing swimmers.

I also saw some ducks taking off from the marsh waters. They are fast, and I didn’t get a good photo, but it reminds me of this early spring day.

I happened to see a male redwing during a weekend trip to Ann Arbor (where the weather was definitely warmer than up north!). The trees are starting to leaf out there already, and the birds are there sooner than up north. But if they are here, they will be in northeast Michigan very soon! I also saw a robin here, a week earlier than they will show up back home.

By the tenth of April, the egrets are migrating here “en masse”; many have their beautiful plumes on display. I saw a group of them gathered across from Birdsong Bay, resting and recovering from their long trip.

On the same day, I saw some hooded mergansers on a canal. The males are beautiful when they put their crests up. It was interesting to see two males with one female; she seemed to have chosen the male with his crest down, and they swam up and down the canal together.

The wood ducks are back! I saw one far back in a little seasonal pond/marsh among the trees when I was driving home.  He was too far away to get a good picture of, but I got one okay shot. They are so beautiful.

On a cold, dreary, rainy day I went by the canal that runs off the lake. The ducks were all gathered there: buffleheads, ring-necked ducks, and wigeons. This canal is a regular meeting place during this time of year, as the males display for the females.  Across the canal, there were hooded mergansers; I think they are beautiful, with their warm coloring and “hoods” that can go up and down.

On the way home, I saw a blue heron in a marsh across from Misery Bay. He stood there, looking at me with a somewhat quizzical look, as if he was trying to figure out what I was or what my interest in him was.

On a trip to Presque Isle, I saw a sparrow on a board; it was adorable. The kingfishers aren’t showing up yet, but they will be very soon.

Now, towards the end of the month, I finally found time to go by the point. I almost stumbled across a killdeer who began doing a broken wing imitation, so I left immediately, figuring that she has a nest nearby. I took a photo with my new lens from a distance, then went to the beach in hopes that she would calm down as I left.

There, I saw three juvenile trumpeter swans sleeping on the beach. They are obviously migrating, and stopping here to rest during their journey. One woke up to preen as I took their picture.

A few days later, I saw two common mergansers floating on the bay. The ducks have paired up, and soon there will be baby mergansers swimming along behind their parents!

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