May 10: Morning at the Marsh

Observations by Michelle Michaud:

Ah what a beautiful morning to bird.  Arriving at the viewing platform parking lot shortly after sunrise the birds were a singing – American Robin, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-winged Crossbill.  A nice chorus of songs. 

Morning at the Marsh

Absent from the marsh today where the moose.  Yesterday when they walked through the marsh they would occasionally flush birds.

Today the birds were flushed by a Northern Harrier scanning the marsh for its next meal.  This was my first spotting of a Northern Harrier this year.  The harrier is one of my favorite raptors, maybe because they fly low to the ground and are easily identifiable by their white rump patch.  This one, a male, was a light gray color. 

Throughout my two hours at the marsh, there were at least 16 dowitchers.  Now you may ask short-billed or long-billed?  Good question.  I found both.  Some listen for their call, but to think that only the long-billed (keek, keek) or the short-billed (kew tu-tu) dowitcher is present because you only heard one of the calls is missing out.  Both can be present with only one of them calling.  Don’t be fooled.  However, there are other characteristics to look for, although they can be quite subtle (e.g., shape of bill, coloration on their bellies, spots versus bars on their breast). 

Northern Shoveler

The Northern Shovelers were back with pairs bobbing their heads.  The Green-winged Teal numbers went back up.  And both Greater and Lesser Scaup decided to spend some time in the marsh, rather than on the lake this morning, to our delight.

The Lincoln’s Sparrow now has competition for territory.  The sparrow didn’t show for the first hour of my stay, which was a little alarming.  This is my favorite sparrow and I hoped he had not met his death. 

Lincoln’s Sparrow

The high three noted call of the Golden-crowned Kinglet could be heard from the viewing platform, and then three of these little birds made an appearance as they moved steadily from one tree to another in search of food. 

And the Wilson’s Snipe (pictured up top) continued their winnowing.  We had several land nearby, including on the top of a spruce tree with great views by all.  Speaking of viewing, a total of 12 people (including myself) were present during the two hours of my stay.  I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a great day to bird at a great birding location.  In total, I saw or heard 33 different species

Bird on…..

Michelle Michaud is an avid birder who enjoys traveling the world in search of birds. In Homer, she participates in citizen science projects, including the Kachemak Bay Birder’s Shorebird Monitoring, Alaska Grebe and Loon Monitoring Project, and COASST.