I rode up to Cell 3, where I ran into Vic Dorer. He had arrived a few minutes before, and was scanning the large expanse of mud flats. Only a handful of Killdeer were there, and they were far off toward the middle of the cell. So, we chatted a few minutes before parting ways. Shorebirds will have to wait yet another week... I decided to head back to the pump house and check out the Bad Creek Unit for possible Cattle Egret rookeries.
I had been in conversation with Walt Pawlowski recently. He was interested in finding out where the Cattle Egrets could be nesting at Pt. Mouillee. With recent observations of young Cattle Egrets at the buffalo farm off Port Sunlight Rd., and my seeing several juveniles a few weeks back, the question arose whether a rookerie might be found somewhere along the Bad Creek Unit of Pt. Mouillee. Confirmed sightings of juvenile Cattle Egrets would only be the 2nd or 3rd record in the State of Michigan! So, I offered to walk the dike south of the pumphouse at Mouillee Creek to see if habitat was suitable for Cattle Egrets to nest, thinking that the southern end of the SGA might turn up some birds.
Continuing along the trail I came across a nesting Red-tailed Hawk. An Osprey flew overhead, as well. To my left, the marsh gave way to large expanses of open grasslands and sparse cattail marsh. I'd never been down this trail before, and this portion of the is just beautiful. Had lighting not been so bad I'd have taken a few panoramic photos to justify the description. Earlier this year a pair of Sandhill Cranes had given birth to a single chick in this part of the marsh.
After walking close to an hour southward, I finally reached Roberts Rd. A small flock of birds nearby included Common Yellowthroats, Yellow Warblers, and House Wrens were impossible to photograph, so I turned around and headed back toward the pump house. Although the marsh was quite lovely, I found no locations were I though that Cattle Egrets could be nesting. So it appears that the egret rookerie in the Humphries Unit (across from Cell 3) is the most likely location for the source of this year's Cattle Egret population. I would later get confirmation from Adam Byrne that 3 nests were photographed from this location, and that young were produced last year, as well.
Finally reaching my bike, I was exhausted, soaked, and covered with welts. I headed home for a shower and a nap. I'll be back here this fall when warblers are migrating. It should be a nice place to walk then!