Birding up there was a bit dry. Elk Rapids Sewage Ponds were barren and Grass River Natural Area provided only a handful of birds, but nice ones, including Sandhill Cranes, Osprey, Alder Flycatcher, Swamp Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow. I did manage a couple close-ups of a female Common Yellowthroat, and a nice pic of my favorite bug: an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly! The drive home produced a pair of Northern Harriers, several Eastern Meadowlarks, and an Upland Sandpiper that sat atop a wooden post next to the road on US-127 South in Alma!
This afternoon I parked at Siegler Rd and road the dike up past the Long Pond Unit to the Vermet Unit, where the only birds present in the NW corner were Pied-billed Grebes w/ babies. It was dry and windy, and the birds were far enough out that digiscoping would only provide disappointing results. So I headed along the west shore of the Vermet and looked for shorebirds. A few Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers were present, but otherwise the Vermet was quiet. At the SW corner a number of Caspian Terns, Canada Geese, and Lesser Yellowlegs were fairly close in, and several Green-winged Teal flushed from the near shore. I managed a few nice portraits of a Lesser Yellowlegs in breeding plumage on the sand spit near several Killdeer. The Yellowlegs were quite vocal and rambunctious, chasing each other around and squabbling over nothing in particular.
As I reached the Middle Causeway a small flock of Lesser Yellowlegs flushed from nearby and provided a few severely-backlit flight shots. Nothing exciting, however, I did notice that most of the birds appeared to be in pre-molt plumage, whereas the Greater Yellowlegs I saw appeared to be in mid-molt plumage. A few flight shots of them showed several primary feathers to be missing (P5 to P7). I managed a few pics of a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs together - the Lesser is the vocal one in the rear!
As I reached the SW corner of the Long Pond Unit I was quite surprised to see mostly exposed mud and little open water. This meant scattered birds and birds too far away to digiscope. Still, I scanned the shoreline and managed to find an American Golden Plover close enough to digiscope in the wind. A scan of the far shore failed to produce a phalarope or a godwit. But I did see both Black-necked Stilts and two cute little babies.
Back on the mudflats I saw several Pectoral Sandpipers and managed a couple digiscoped images before moving on. Toward the middle of the LPU, along the west shore I found a few Short-billed Dowitchers and a single Wilson's Snipe feeding close enough to photograph. Notice how well-camouflaged the Snipe is in its surroundings (tic).
Feeling a bit drained after a long weekend I decided to head back to the car and head for home early.