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A Year of Birds 2023: May

May is coming in windy and cool, but with sunlight sparkling on the water when it peeks through the clouds. The egrets are back in the marshes across from Misery Bay, and I watched one as it hunted frogs and preened in between. They are beautiful with their lovely plumes of feathers this time of year.

When walking on the beach, I also saw a pair of common mergansers floating and fishing. I know where they like to nest, but won’t go near.  The next day, as I was driving towards Lachine, I saw a group of cormorants perched on a tree next to the river. They looked as if they were jockeying for the best position in the tree, and certainly enjoy hanging out together as they dry out from their fishing expeditions.

A few days later, the weather warmed up, the sun came out, and the early May rains ended for a time. As I walked near a marsh off the beach, I saw a redwing blackbird female. I also saw her mate, who first looked at me, and then as I got closer, flashed his epaulets at me, warning me away from where they have a nest in the cattails below. I heeded the warning, and walked away.

The next day, as I walked the beach, I saw several killdeer near the rocks. They flew off, with their high-pitched cries, as I came nearer. At the end of the walk, I saw a white-crowned sparrow that was migrating, resting on a rock. They are pretty birds, and I am always glad to see them.

The goslings have hatched and I love watching the parents take their babies, looking like fluffy balls of down, out on the bay. The parents give me a wary eye, but then realize that I am not a threat, and continue on their way. I am amazed at how quickly the babies learn to swim and follow.

Mid-month, I went on the Badger ferry with a friend as we crossed Lake Michigan into Wisconsin, where she had a medical appointment. The gulls on the Wisconsin side were flying by the dozens, and I caught a picture of a few of them as we came into the dock. It reminded me of a scene from the old Alfred Hitchcock film, “Birds”, except that these gulls were looking for fish, and were friendly.

A week later, on the way back, my friend and I stopped at Houghton Lake, where there is a wonderful bird sanctuary. While there, I got a picture of a blue heron as he took off from the swampy waters.  I also saw a sandhill crane taking off soon afterwards. These birds like their privacy.

Then, I turned around, and there was an osprey in a tree, eating a fish he had caught. This bird was beautiful, and I took several pictures; he ignored me and kept eating, taking pauses to look at me, then continue with his meal.

There were also many dozens of swallows flying around the observation deck and under a concrete culvert where I suspect many of them have nests. I took a photo of one that flew in and sat looking at me.

I also saw a yellow legs, and a least sandpiper (I love the beautiful markings on this smallest of the pipers). The birding was incredible that day, and I would have stayed all day, but my friends were in the car waiting, so I had to bid the abundant wildlife goodbye until I can come again (hopefully, soon!)

One weekend, I went birding near a sinkhole and inlet with a friend who is a photographer. While there, I saw a juvenile eagle being chased by gulls-they really like to let the young eagles know who is boss. He was flying too rapidly to get a good photo, but they are beautiful.

At the end of the month, I was hiking in the early evening around the bay (up north, it stays light until almost 9 pm now), and saw a tern fishing. It is fascinating to watch them dive straight into the water, and almost immediately come up with a small fish. They are excellent fishers and seem to find plenty to eat in the calmer waters here.

Later on the walk, I saw a pair of killdeer and their three babies. The babies were adorable, they look just like miniature killdeer. The mother was anxious to distract me from her babies by making loud calls, so I quickly left and continued my walk. Spring is definitely in full swing, and I look forward to seeing the birds that live here during each walk in the evening.

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