Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pt. Mouillee SGA - 17 Aug 2008

Parking at the Roberts Rd. entrance I biked over to Cell 3 to digiscope shorebirds. Along the way I managed to flush a small group of Blue-winged Teal from the Lead Unit, which was otherwise fairly quiet.
As I set up the scope I was greeted by David Boon, who was unable to relocate the Hudsonian Godwit and Wilson's Phalarope, but did see an American Golden Plover. After a few minutes looking we did find the plover, and a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper. Pectoral, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers were everywhere, as well as Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, Short-billed Dowitchers and a few Stilt Sandpipers.Farther out in the cell were more Blue-winged Teal and Mallard.

After David left I spent a few minutes photographing the numbers of immature shorebirds that were unconcerned with my presence and running about at my feet. A pair of immature Baird's Sandpipers were feeding in the mud across the first patch of water, and made for some challenging digiscoping.

A few minutes later I turned around and noticed Mary Trombley, her niece Claire, and Pat Gamburd at the top of the dike waving to me. I hiked up to meet them and fill them in on my sightings. Claire was visiting from Vermont and was anxious to add some midwest shorebirds to her life list, so we quickly scoped the mudflats while Pat headed down to digiscope some of the closer birds. As we watched the plover the Wilson's Phalarope reappeared in the puddle to the right of Pat (sorry we missed it, Mr. Boon...). Unable to get Pat's attention, I headed back down and attempted to digiscope the phalarope, but as luck would have it, the entire flock flushed just as I was about to snap away. I managed a few flight shots of the shorebird flight and waited for them to settle back down. The phalarope was now farther away and severely backlit by the morning sun, but I tried to get some keeper images anyway. Mary and Claire had to leave, and waved goodbye.

Shortly after they left the Detroit Audubon tour arrived (led by Jim Fowler), so I walked back up to greet them and fill them in on sightings. As I pointed out the phalarope and Baird's Sandpipers Pat said her goodbyes and headed out. After a few minutes conversation with the group I headed back to the car and headed home.

Oh, and by the way, miss Claire is a 13-year old bird bander from the Dead Creek Bird Observatory in Vermont and recently entered the Prudential Volunteer contest last year and won for Middle School kids for the State of Vermont (silver medallion and $1000!). She and her parents took a free trip to Washington DC in May for the National contest winners. Her essay included her volunteer work with banding birds. Two kids from every state, plus the District of Columbia, one for Middle school and one for High school. And since today was her birthday, "Happy Birthday, Claire!".

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