Summer of Southeastern Birds

August 14, 2021 0 Comments

It’s been a good summer for Michigan birders. A steady, yet manageable, flow of vagrant species have appeared throughout the state from the Southeastern region of the continent. Late April brought us a beautiful, adult Little Blue Heron at Muskegon SP (2 immature LBHE have been discovered this week). In June, the emergence of the Brood X Cicadas attracted a beautiful adult Mississippi Kite to a preserve near Ann Arbor. A White-winged Dove spent several days visiting a feeder in Kalamazoo County. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks showed up in Bay County and in Ottawa County. Neotropic Cormorants apparently nested in both Macomb and Wayne Counties. Michigan’s 1st ever Roseate Spoonbill in Saline delighted hundreds of wildlife enthusiasts for several days. And most recently, a Wood Stork (Michigan’s 5th, 6th or 7th record depending how several sightings in various locations from this summer get scored by the MBRC) has been generating a lot of buzz in Michigan’s birding community.

My wife and I made a flash trip to Ludington in Mason County on August 1st to see the Wood Stork. Michigan’s 4th Wood Stork showed up in 2020 while we were honeymooning in Maine, so getting another chance to add this species to my State Life List was something I could not let slip from my grasp.

It turned out to be one of the easiest chases of my entire birding career. We spotted the immature Wood Stork crossing Dennis Road as we approached, moving from the east side to the ditch on the west side. My wife and I quietly moved to a position that allowed us to get good looks at the bird, who spent the entire visit hunting tadpoles. As we stood there, the bird got so close I had to back up to photograph it. This was my first “chase” bird using my new DSLR setup, the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens with the Nikon D500 Camera Body. I was still getting used to all the new features at my disposal, but I landed more than a dozen super shots of the Wood Stork in just a few minutes of being at the site. We didn’t stay long. We had better than expected views of the bird and I had plenty of killer shots to look at.

Below are my favorites of the Wood Stork as well a few other Southern birds I chased this summer. Enjoy!

Mississippi Kite. Photo taken with my old Canon Powershot SX60 HS in overcast conditions. Missing chances to get awesome photos of some of these rare species played a big part in my decision to upgrade to a big DSLR Lens.
White-winged Dove from Kalamazoo, MI
Michigan’s 1st record (long overdue) of Roseate Spoonbill. This photo was taken from a great distance in less than desirable conditions.
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