Burchfield Park Birding

As soon as the weather hits 50 in the spring in Michigan, we all explode from our houses to celebrate sunshine and quit wearing jackets even if it starts to dip back down to the 30s again. Last Friday we decided to enjoy the weather by playing disc golf and bird watching at a park near our home. Burchfield Park is a beautiful wilderness park with a couple of playgrounds, winter sledding, river access, a large pond, biking and hiking trails and a pretty awesome disc golf course.

After our picnic, my daughter and I hit up one of the playgrounds for a while as Brent and our son played a little baseball. We soon switched up the pace and headed to the woods to find some birds and the guys started on the disc golf course.

There are the main elements in my birding bag. Bushnell Binoculars, a bird guide book, birding journal, wipes, hand sanitizer, a pencil and a plastic bag for any trash we find.
These are the main elements in my birding bag. Bushnell Binoculars, a National Geographic bird guide book, birding journal, wipes, hand sanitizer, a pencil and a plastic bag for any trash we find.
The picnic basket was a wedding gift about 10 years ago. It has held up really well and the bottom part is a cooler!
The picnic basket was a wedding gift about 10 years ago. It has held up really well and the bottom part is a cooler!

The first thing we discovered was a cute little snake.

We heard it moving in the leaves and spotted it next to a stump. Our daughter was very excited and told the next disc golf players we came across about the snake we had just found.

garter snake

After taking pictures of a few tiny spring flowers we found a spot by the river to try to spot some birds. Burchfield has an amazing hardwood forest which can be super challenging to spot birds when the leaves are in. We got lucky and spotted a couple different birds on our walk.

BURCHFIELD river

A hawk landed just above us in a tree and I managed to snap a couple quick and blurry pictures before he flew across the river to perch. We could see him through binoculars, but had a really hard time identifying it. I still am not 100% sure what type of hawk it was. Our top choices are Osprey and Coopers Hawk. Whenever we see a bird we are not sure of, I use an app on my phone called the Merlin Bird ID. They ask your location and a few very easy questions about the bird, then display suggested birds.

burchfield hawk

I am not sure if this really was a Cooper’s Hawk, it seemed a bit bigger, more like an Osprey, but it was the bird that matched best in the Merlin App.

The app also has bird sounds which can help identify the bird as well!
The app also has bird sounds which can help identify the bird and my kids love listening to the different calls!

All through our walk a bird was taunting me from the tree tops…. It had a short bold call and consistently eluded me! Just as we were leaving, Brent and our son caught up with us and we finally located a beautiful Red Bellied Woodpecker super high among the trees. See if you can find him in this shot –

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Just below the broken top of the tree there is a nest. The woodpecker is just below that in the middle. It was very far away, but thankfully the picture in our guidebook was nice and clear. We had a bit of trouble helping the kids find the bird with my binoculars, so we are looking into a good pair of them made specifically for kids. So if you have any suggestions let me know! Oh and next time, I bring a real camera.

Unfortunately as it got later in the evening, the mosquitoes came out and were on the attack. I forgot the bug spray, so we called it a night and headed home to play in our yard for a bit. It was a fantastic evening and gave our kids a little adventure and a lot of nature.

To learn more about Michigan Snakes, Burchfield Park, the Red Bellied Woodpecker and the Merlin Bird ID, visit –

Michigan Snakes

Eastern Garter Snake

Burchfield Park

Merlin Bird ID

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Talk to you soon!

Kristy

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