Saturday, August 11, 2018

Slow Shorebirding Morning - 11 Aug 2018

I arrived at Mouillee Creek parking lot at 6:40 am just in time to see 19 Sandhill Cranes flying west from the Nelson Unit. As I rode out along the Middle Causeway several Great Egrets were roosting in a large snag illuminated by the rising sun. I would seen another 65 of them in the Long Pond Unit.

I headed along the South end of the Walpatich Unit and heard a Dickcissel while a dozen Bobolink scattered from the trail ahead of me. Indigo Buntings were also abundant, but lighting was too low to photograph any of them.

I arrived at the SE corner of the Long Pond Unit and spotted 4 juvenile Greater Yellowlegs foraging next to a Short-billed Dowitcher. Semipalmated Plovers (3) were foraging among a half-dozen Killdeer and several Semipalmated Sandpipers. Decided to keep moving so that I might find a King Rail. I managed to capture a full-magnification video of a juvenile King Rail that appeared for a few minutes before scampering back into cover. The bird was at least 50 yds back along the edge of a small canal near the north east corner of the unit.

As I headed west along the North Causeway I ran into Scott Terry, Adam Byrne and Phil Chu. After a few minutes of chatting I continued on to check out the middle portion of the Long Pond. This would entail hiking through wet vegetation to get there. Caspian Terns (18) were roosting in the middle of the Long Pond Unit. I chose a bad day to wear heavy cotton pants; they were soaked while hiking through dew-covered vegetation. I did get a few nice pics of a Red Admiral Butterfly on a Marsh Mallow bloom.

I returned to the causeway and rode around Cell 5 to the Lake Erie side of the Banana Unit. I failed to see any evidence of a White-winged Scoter. I did see several Lesser Scaup and Redhead Ducks. Bald Eagles (6) were abundant, but lighting was poor for photographing them.

As I continued toward the Middle Causeway I ran into Andy Sturgess and spent some time digiscoping some Bobolink while he chased Mink along the rip-rap next to the dike. We chatted a bit and took the opportunity to shoot fly-by birds. He went after Osprey while I went after dragonflies. We would see a Northern Harrier fly over.

As we rode west along the Middle Causeway we ran into Scott, Adam and Phil - no shorebirds of note were being seen. Shorebird habitat at Pt. Mouillee seems scarce these days. Scott reported that the Bad Creek Unit was grown over and not supporting any shorebirds this morning. The Long Pond Unit seems to have the only mud available. They did report a possible Long-billed Dowitcher back at the SE corner of the Long Pond. Andy and I headed in that direction.

We found a pair of dowitchers upon arrival, but I couldn't convince myself that either one was anything but Short-billed Dowitchers (adults with worn plumage). I spent time digiscoping both birds. Worn flight feathers were apparent, but both birds were were slender in appearance with spotting on flanks and under tails. One bird appeared larger than the other, though.

I would return to the car after stopping long enough to get a long distance shot of an Indigo Bunting along the Bloody Run Unit. Another dragonfly made an appearance, as well.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mystery Solved - 28 Jul 2018

After returning to the Middle Causeway I headed east along the inside dike next to the Long Pond Unit hoping to see some shorebirds. As I scanned the far banks of the drying ponds I spotted a tiny black rail chick. When it popped up next to its adult parent I knew immediately that it was a Virginia Rail. The chick was tiny, smaller than a Killdeer, so it couldn't have been a King Rail (last week I reported the same bird as a King Rail and confused the discussion that a second King Rail family my be nearby).

At the SE corner of the Long Pond Unit I spent a few minutes digiscoping a Lesser Yellowlegs that was obligingly close. An adult-worn Semipalmated Sandpiper was nearby, as well.

I continued along the Middle Causeway toward the Banana Unit and stopped when I spotted 6 Yellow-headed Blackbirds in a fresh-plowed field among several dozen Red-winged Blackbirds.

I rode the Banana Unit around Cell 3 and found only grass growing in the remnants of the pond that once was. I could not relocate the White-winged Scoter that was reported earlier in the week in Cell 4.  As I returned down the Middle Causeway I managed to flush the Whimbrel that was reported earlier in the day. I couldn't see it as the sun was setting in my face as I rode the bike.

The Whimbrel flushed a second time as I approached the Long Pond Unit and it landed in the SE corner. I was able to get a few pics w/ the Nikon D500 before getting around behind it to digiscope it from about 50' away.

It finally wandered off so I packed up and headed for home.

When I walked into the house I spotted a juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird roosting in the birch tree just out from the back window. So, I set up the scope and grabbed a few digiscoped images from about 20' away.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Who's Afraid Of... - 28 Jul 2018

A Peregrine Falcon? Apparently, Eastern Kingbirds. NOT!

I rode out to the Bad Creek Unit of Pt. Mouillee SGA this evening to check out shorebirds. I saw none. The shallow ponds and mudflats were bare. Only a scattering of Great Egrets were present along the far shoreline of the flooded field.  As I scanned the field w/ binoculars I caught a dark-colored raptor soaring low over the field and heading out across the channel behind me. At first I thought Cooper's Hawk, but then my mind kicked in. Peregrine Falcon!

It soared over the tree tops, and I thought that was it. But, then I heard the chattering and rustling in the tree tops. Suddenly, the Peregrine Falcon, a juvenile, burst through the vegetation with a pair of Eastern Kingbirds hot on its trail. I had moments to grab the camera and shoot a burst of 10-15 frames while the birds flew directly at me. At the time I didn't even have an idea what kinds of birds were chasing the falcon.

A third kingbird joined the harrassment before the young Peregrine flew back into the Bad Creek Unit and landed on the mudflats. I watched it for several minutes through the scope before packing up and heading back to the Middle Causeway.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Birding Before Work - 26 Jul 2018

I took another run down to Pt. Mouillee SGA before work. Parking at Mouillee Creek I rode out to the SE corner of the Long Pond Unit to look for King Rails. Along the way I heard a Dickcissel in the Walpatich Unit, and another again in the Nelson Unit among several Marsh Wrens and Swamp Sparrows. I took note of the mowing that had been done along each side of the trails.

At 6 am it was still fairly dark, especially with heavy clouds in the east. The Sun rose bright red and needed a few pics. This Wood Duck made an especially nice silhouette in the Vermet Unit.

As I arrived at the SE corner of the Long Pond Unit I spotted a pair of adult Short-billed Dowitchers and several adult Greater Yellowlegs. It was still too dark to digiscope, but I put the videocamera on the Greater Yellowlegs to see how it would come out.

Meanwhile, six Sandhill Cranes farther down the canal took off to the west.

I spotted a tiny dark bird way out to the west in the edge of open water and cattails that could have easily been a Red-winged Blackbird. It turned out to be a very young, presumed King Rail chick. It was fairly large for a chick, but younger looking than the juvenile King Rail I photographed last week. It foraged at the edge of cover for several seconds, then disappeared.

As I rode the dike to the North Causeway I began to hear more Dickcissels (3) in the heavy thistle and cattail fields. The farmer's field had been plowed and appeared fresh for late summer planting. They were too far away to photograph, so I turned the scope on a molting Indigo Bunting.

With the Sun now rising into view the shorebirds along the north side of Long Pond came into view. A pair of Semipalmated Sandpipers appeared, and they both appeared to be juveniles with fresh plumage. A Least Sandpiper appeared, and it was also a juvenile with fresh feathers.

Several Lesser Yellowlegs were foraging along the far shore and offered a few pics.

I would fail to see the Marbled Godwit (again).

I rode down to the Bad Creek Unit to check shorebirds. I would find 9 Stilt Sandpipers among 2 dozen Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, a half-dozen Short-billed Dowitcher, and several dozen Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers.

On the way out I stopped to chat w/ Andy Sturgess for a few minutes.

Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe, Michigan, US
Jul 25, 2018 6:00 AM - 8:10 AM
Protocol: Traveling
6.2 mile(s)
Comments:     Warm, humid, mostly clear; marsh waters are low.
33 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  24
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  6
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  36
Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  6
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  36
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  6
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
King Rail (Rallus elegans)  1     juvenile; black, larger than Lesser Yellowlegs; seen at scope distance in SE corner of Long Pond Unit. Stayed near edge of stubble and open water, ventured into view only momentarily;
Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)  12     included 1 family of 8 in Long Pond (NW end);
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  6     Long Pond; flew to west
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  12
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)  9     all birds in Bad Creek Unit; heavy barring in most birds that were worn adults; no juveniles yet.
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  2
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)  12
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)  8
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  6
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  16
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  1
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)  1
Purple Martin (Progne subis)  24     roosting in snag next to Pump House
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  60
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  12
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  12
Dickcissel (Spiza americana)  5     Singing birds in Walpatich Unit, Nelson Unit, and 3 in Long Pond Unit.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  36
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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