Mar 16 – Fist of all, please note the complete absence of snow.  In a week our 4-8 inch snowpack has disappeared due to two weeks of sun followed by a very strong rain followed by more sun and warmer temps.  Hank is already in service!  Usually he doesn’t come out til mid-April but the snow is all gone and the rain washed away the accumulated road salt.  As those are my requirements, I called the insurance guy and had him put Hank back on.  I don’t have to drive down to Grand Rapids to pick David up any more.

This is my hill out back.  I use it as part of my walk to amp up the difficulty.  The Art Chalet is at the top, behind the green arrow the pine trees are making.  The dogs love this walk.

While on my walk yesterday I heard an unfamiliar bird.  I tried to remember its call as best as possible and went home to my iPod Touch and iBird, which let me search by call and time of year and location.  It narrowed the 900+ birds to around 150.  I went through the unfamiliar ones until I found the call I thought I had heard.  Then I looked up the bird and figured I couldn’t really count it on my list as I wasn’t entirely sure and the bird isn’t normally in Michigan, technically.  Today I took my iPod with me and went back out.  The bird was still around, still singing and this time I played back the call and it was note perfect – a Smith’s Longspur!  So now I have it added to my Life List and am very pleased.   The bird is migrating to its tundra nesting grounds but singing along the way.   This makes four birds on my Life List that I have by call alone – 2 owls (Barred and Great Horned), the Longspur and the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, which I hope to see this summer since I know it’s down there by the river in back of the house.