Sunday, November 27, 2011

J.R. Whiting Plant - 25 Nov 2011

A day after Thanksgiving and its clear and mild in SE Michigan.  I decided to walk the Lake Erie Shoreline from the foot of Erie Rd in southern Monroe Co.  I parked at the small lot next to the J.R. Whiting Power Plant (Consumers Energy) and headed toward the beach. 

The water level was down a touch, as there was about 5 feet of fresh shoreline exposed.  The sand was compacted enough to make for a nice walk south toward the end of Woodtick Peninsula.  It was a relatively quiet walk, with only a smattering of waterfowl to keep me preoccupied.

A small group of floating Herring / Ring-billed Gulls near the discharge of the power plant contained a single adult Great Black-backed Gull.  Nearby a small raft of a couple dozen Lesser Scaup were quietly floating 50 yds out from shore.  As I walked near the discharge a flock of 45 Bonaparte's Gulls passed by.

A much larger flock of mixed Herring/Ring-billed Gulls south of the discharge held 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Unfortunately they were between me and the sun, so it was impossible to digiscope them unless I could get south of their roost on a shallow sand bar.  They took off when an immature Bald Eagle made a pass over them, and they headed south and out of sight.

The phragmites to my right were relatively quiet the entire walk. Only a couple of American Tree Sparrows, and the odd Northern Cardinal were heard.  As I walked about a mile south of the plant I began to see rafts of Ruddy Ducks about 70 yds. out.  Bufflehead were the next most abundant bird, with dozens forming small groups bobbing about 50 yds. away.  I managed to scope a single Horned Grebe, and another bird I thought to be a Red-necked Grebe, but it turned out to be a female Black Scoter!  Black cap and white throat were the only field marks I could make out, but it dove alot and kept itself apart from the nearby Ruddies.
As I returned to the plant, an immature Red-tailed Hawk made a circling pass near the gate, and landed momentarily in a tree overhanging the beach. I plopped down in the sand and managed a half-dozen digiscoped images from about 150' away. 

It then took off and flew directly toward me along the water's edge.  It passed by directly overhead, and afforded wonderful looks from just a few feet away.

I returned to the car and headed north toward the city of Monroe.  I had every intention of making a swing through Sterling State Park, but decided to bypass it and go straight home.  Little did I know that Mr. Skye Haas would report a Pacific Loon there just a few minutes later...  More on that next post.

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