January Field Trip Swan Search


(Update added 1/28:

…“A day or two can make a big difference when birding. Approximately 148 Trumpeter Swans  were seen on the river Saturday 1/27/18 while on Sunday, just at Iargo, over 60!

Keep looking everywhere!!” – Sue D.)

Five hearty AVA members gathered at Iargo Springs to search out Trumpeter Swans along the AuSable River on a sunny and balmy 42 degree day, January 26, 2018.  The swans were right there and easily visible from the platform. That made the search pretty short and sweet thanks to good advice from Peggy and Phil. There were 20 plus Trumpeters, some flying (oh so gorgeous!) some calling and feeding.  Also seen/heard were about 40 Golden Eye Ducks, two Bald Eagles, a couple Black-capped Chickadee, a White breasted Nuthatch and 5 -6 Pine Siskins and one lone Raven patrolling M-65.

Due to recent snow a number of tracks were identifiable as well. We walked between the two viewing platforms at Westgate, where there were zero swans. We did, however, see tracks of mice, multiple Ruffed Grouse, possibly fox and definitely people.

Much birding conversation and a delicious lunch at the Bear’s Den Restaurant  followed the viewing.  Kathy S. and Carol B. joined us at the Bear’s Den and we all enjoyed getting to know new members Melinda and Bob a bit.  Kathy and Carol reported a RHWO near Sand Lake,  a Red-shouldered Hawk and a fox that trotted across Esmond Road !!

Oh, yes, four of the group highly recommend the homemade chicken dumpling soup!  Others voted for chili…. Or the half pound burger!

Photo Left to right Melinda and Bob, Ruth, Sue and Larry.

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AVA Field Trip – Swan Search Fri 1-26

Have you ever been on a Snipe hunt? How about looking for Timberdoodles? Well….now it’s time to go on a swan search!😁

With warmer weather there have been some open places on the AuSable River where swans have recently been sighted. So hopefully this will not be a tricky joke on us.

We’re heading out on Friday, January 26 to search for those Trumpeter Swans. Maybe we will get lucky enough to have you join us at Iargo Springs on River Rd.  That’s Friday, January 26 at 11 AM. We may check a couple other places if the swans aren’t there,  but by noon 30 (or so)we should end up at the Bear’s Den Restaurant on M 65 for lunch. Join us! (for a variety of reasons I would appreciate knowing if you plan to join  us. )

Call Sue or Larry at 362-2522, 989-701-5471 or email smdunc@charter.net
Same contact info works if you have questions or need directions!

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AVA January Meeting and 45th Anniversary Celebration

On Tuesday, January 9th, the AuSable Valley Audubon chapter held its first meeting of the new year. It was a celebration of 45 years of birding in Iosco county and the sunrise side of Michigan. Here are the links to the chapter’s  annual report and the 45th anniversary timeline document. You will need a PDF reader to view these documents.

The tasty swan cake:

Trumpeter Swans – our signature bird


More pictures of speakers and some of our AVA volunteer activities. Click on the photos for a larger view :

All photographs are courtesy of Maggie Berch.

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7 Partridges in a Crabapple Tree

Five Ruffed Grouse – photo by Larry VanWagoner

I was sitting at my desk on the second story of my home on New Year’s Day, 1/1/2018. I noticed movement in a window that overlooks a large crabapple tree. Looking out I saw not one, not two, not three, but seven(!) Ruffed Grouse eating the buds from the tips of branches. I’ve included a photo of five of the birds. At such close range, I couldn’t get all of the birds in one photo. The 2nd photo is of one of the birds as it approached a branch tip about 10 feet from my window. I’ve been fortunate to see grouse in this tree in the past, but never more than 3 at once.

submitted by Larry VanWagoner


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CBC 2017 Tawas and Oscoda Circles Summary

                    How Fast Can You Count?

A very casual report of the AVA Christmas  Bird Counts by Sue Duncan

G’s Restaurant in Oscoda was a perfect place to compare notes and recharge before setting out for a few more bird sightings.

The two Christmas Bird counts done in Iosco County for 2017 were so different, and yet so alike!

They were alike because both had great participation; 18 or more members for both, good food at breakfast and lunch with exciting conversation and really wonderful bird finds in both areas. What fun and stimulating days!  (That’s a BIG reason to “like”  the CBC adventure for me! )

They were different too:  the weather! Lots of new snow and pretty chilly on on Saturday, December 16 in Tawas and then balmy 41 degrees and sunshine (some) on Tuesday,  December 19  in Oscoda.  Bird finds usually duplicate each other to some extent, but there are also differences!  Like lots of hawks on one, lots of starlings on the other! You’ll have to wait for the official tally to find out all the contrasts.


The really exciting bird finds included a Snowy Owl in each count, Brown Creepers -2 (a first for a count, we rarely see two together on counts) No Redheaded ducks!  No Cedar Waxwings, Bohemian or not.  But a number of Ruffed-grouse and a lot of leaf-birds were spotted. Most unusual and surprising?  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks!  All four people on that team swear to it!

If you were lucky enough to go on one of the counts, what did you see that thrilled, amazed or puzzled you?  Maybe you expected to find a species that wasn’t around this year.   What was it?  Let’s continue this group ‘conversation’ by watching for the official report coming to this website and by discussing it all again at the January meeting in 2018!

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Christmas Bird Count 2017

Volunteers are out counting. Check this space for updates!

Counters are out Counting

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AVA December 2017 Meeting In The Books

December Meeting a Wrap of Year 2017

Twenty-nine AVA members met at the R. J Parks Library in Oscoda on December 12 from 1-3:30. They were there to see birder friends and to learn about using the eBird application. There were other topics of interest too; the two Christmas counts coming up soon, short reports on Giving Tuesday, and the Tawas Point Migration 2018 plans, as well as some Christmas cheer done in song, thanks to Emily Kemnitz!

Phil Odum’s presentation generated great interest and discussion. Many energetically shared with either questions and/or tips for use of eBird! More will be done at future meetings to keep that interest vibrant, according to President Jean Howard. A final treat was viewing a number of Phil’s superb photos of birds and other objects of interest that he encounters on his many miles of ‘chasing’ birds.  Thanks to Phil, Arno, Larry, Dawn and all who made it a worthwhile time for all!


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AVA Sandhill Crane Viewing Field Trip

Narrative courtesy of Sue Duncan. Photograph courtesy of Larry VanWagoner. Enjoy!

October 25, 2017 at 5:15 pm fourteen intrepid AVA Members left Nester Corner’s gas station in search of Sandhill Cranes. The large, long legged birds had been found many times before in an area with a farm field and adjacent ponds, but would any appear tonight?

The early scouting done just an hour preceding by Larry and Sue had been totally unsuccessful.  Not one bird was found feeding or flying anywhere in the vicinity. The behavior of these migrants is still puzzling to the watchers.

The birders arrived on site and began spotting wildlife; whitetail deer, multiple large flocks of ducks and Canada Geese, even a Bald Eagle, but no Cranes. It was cold and overcast, typically late October weather. Sunset was around 6:45, would the team be able to hold out that long?

A lone crane crossed the sky! Yippee!  Was it a young one that couldn’t keep up? No peeps were heard.  Was it a scout for the evening flock? Why wasn’t there a couple hundred approaching?  AVA 14 – Cranes 1.  Finally more Cranes started to blink into view!  Counting could be heard from a number of the birders. This was becoming more fun. Then just before dusk, cold and hunger got the best of the crew.  With a count of 65 cranes (or so) the AVA folks gratefully got into warm cars and headed off for dinner, leaving the Cranes with their feet in the water or feeding in the field awaiting their chance to float over to find a spot to roost with the other feathery migrants.

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AuSable Valley Audubon November 8 Meeting is a Go

We were able to schedule a replacement program  after Thunder Bay had to cancelled the November 7 meeting.

AuSable Valley Audubon will meet on  Wednesday, November 8 at 1:00 p.m. at the R.J. Parks Library in Oscoda.

Larry VanWagoner and Sue Duncan will present a timely program on Sandhill Cranes.

Also check out the Michigan Audubon update on the status of the Resolution pending before the Natural Resources Commission to allow a fall hunting season for Sandhill Cranes and actions you can take to discourage adoption.

Join us for lunch at G’s in Oscoda at 11:30  prior to the meeting on November 8! Call Sue at 989-362-2522 or email her at smcunc@charter.net  by 6:00 p.m. Tuesday if you will be coming to the lunch.

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Thunder Bay Audubon Nov 7 Canceled

We received the following update from out hosts at Thunder Bay Audubon:

Due to a scheduling conflict, the presentation by Tom Funke, on November 7 has been canceled. We have not rescheduled it, so there will be no joint meeting of Thunder Bay Audubon with AuSable Valley Audubon at this time.

We are sorry this late change.

Karen Tetzlaff

TBAS President

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