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Michigan Revisited, July 2017

Part 3: Holmes County State Park (MS)

All photographs ©2017 by Mary Beth Stowe

Was pleased as punch the next morning to get a whole flock of Fish Crows outside the motel, along with an Eastern Kingbird! J  Was a little concerned about the fog, but it lifted quickly, and there was a little bit of a Parking Lot going into Jackson, but it didn’t last long (so long as the guy behind me stops in time, I don’t mind…).  In Memphis I saw a dual sign for I-69, and got to wondering if it would be prudent to just take that straight up to Michigan, but when I-55 went off towards St, Louis, the references to I-69 evaporated, so I decided to stick with the original plan.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself: before I hit Jackson I came across Holmes County State Park, so I was thrilled at the prospect of getting a hike in while it was still relatively cool!There were huge woodlands all around, and as I entered the park, the place seemed like a ghost town, so I just followed the main road until it dumped off on another main road (US 51 by the looks of the map), so I figured I was no longer in the park! But it was such a wonderful road I decided to BBS it (although pulloffs were practically nonexistent), and at the first stop a beautiful Mississippi Kite flew overhead and landed on a dead tree in beautiful light! Red-eyed Vireos were out the yin yang (heard a for-sure Yellow-throated this time), and picked up several new trip birds including pewee and Northern Parula, but the star of the show was a song I had to stop and think about for a minute, before the old Peterson recording kicked in and I realized it was a Swainson’s Warbler! Woo hoo (especially since I missed them during migration this year)!  A good dirt road didn’t get explored because a car was blocking the way, so I had to back down, and another car started to come up until he saw me backing up! He also backed up until we both got to the main drag, and I warned him that a car was blocking the road, but he went up anyway (maybe he was meeting someone for unscrupulous business…).

Anyway, went by the closed office and checked out the lake access; I didn’t feel comfortable walking any of the main roads (even though I’m sure the fishermen all parked there were probably okay), but checked out the pier to Lake England that had a friendly Chipping Sparrow at my feet, several Barn Swallows on the railing, and a group of Canada Geese across the way! On the way out I poked down the good dirt road behind the dam, only to be stopped there as well by a work crew cutting down trees (at least I saw the gated entrance to the fancy community across the lake…)! I was surprised that the place wasn’t an eBird hotspot (in fact, there were no nearby hotspots), and later a local birder friend would message me saying that that park is terribly under-birded. Decided to call it quits after that, but not before hearing a pink that I swore was a White-throated Sparrow, but both that and the Whitecrown were considered “rare” on the checklist, so I let it go after multiple attempts at playback, but then realized later that it was probably a Blue Grosbeak, as they would fool me every spring back in San Diego!

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