Family life is great, especially when it involves vacations to birdy locales! The week prior to Labor Day, Jaime, Walter, and I spent a week in South Haven, Michigan on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. There were many firsts, including Walter’s first taste (literally) of the beach and me birding on the Great Lakes. We rented a house approximately one block from this:
Cue the birds!
I will start with the commoners. Ring-Billeds won the contest for most ubiquitous bird, though they were pushed closely by Barn Swallows, whose massive flocks outnumbered even House Sparrows 10-to-1.
Next among gulls were quite a few Herrings mixed in. I was actually quite pleased to see adult individuals around, like this dapper fellow. Inland, this species is most frequently seen in its Freakish Juvenile plumage.
Speaking of freakish juveniles, this young Ring-Billed won the prize for most grotesque. It guarded this fish carcass (species anyone?) for close to three days. And you thought your adolescent years were awkward.
Putting the other gulls to shame were a few Bonaparte’s Gulls. Though sporting juvenile plumage, I think these are pretty gulls. This one basically escorted us down the beach one morning, not seeming to care that we kept encroaching on it. What a gentleman.
Forster’s Tern is a life bird for me, and I was fortunate to snap this one photo of a pair. I believe these were the only two present all week, and thankfully I was able to ID them from the “earmuffs” that the lower bird is sporting. No other tern has this style…
…which is fortunate, because the more numerous and aptly named Common Tern looks very similar. This was another life bird for me.
While we were at the beach, prime shorebird migration was beginning. But the only sandpipers present were some Sanderlings. I was deviled all week by these birds. Just as one would land close by, someone would invariably run by and scare it away. This one thankfully stayed long enough for a photo despite the presence of three screaming children.
And finally, one of the more interesting sightings of the week was this Spanish subspecies of American Crow.