Sunday, May 13, 2012

Good to be Back! - 11 May 2012

At Pt. Mouillee, that is.  Its been weeks since I've been there, as I've been spending most of my free time in Ohio at the Biggest Week in Birding Festival. But is was good to ride the causeways again check out the familiar haunts of 'home'.

The Walpatich Unit is still low, with lots of exposed mudflats.  Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Semipalmated Sandpiper were found this late Friday afternoon.  Digiscoping was difficult with a still-high sun on the mudflats.

With nothing to note in the Lautenschlager Unit I rode on to the Vermet Unit, where I found six Short-billed Dowitchers foraging among a dozen Dunlin.  I captured a few keeper photos of the birds, but found it difficult to get all the birds in focus and capture a frame fast enough to prevent head-blur.

Forster's Terns were flying along the east dike of the Long Pond Unit carrying minnows to nesting sites in both the Humphries and Vermet Units.  Listening to their "Kee-er" calls helped me focus my ears to the much high squeaking of a pair of Black Terns flying out over the Vermet Unit.  I spent some time w/ the binoculars on the bird, which were too far out for any decent photos.  Good to see them back!

As I headed along the Middle Causeway toward the Banana Unit a fresh-plumaged Dunlin flew in and landed along the shoreline just 30' away.  In the now-setting sunlight the bird was beautifully illuminated and sat long enough for me get some killer digiscoped images.  I would find another two dozen Dunlin among the short stubble along the south shore of the Vermet Unit as I continued on.

I caught a note or two of a Yellow-headed Blackbird in the Humphries Unit.

I rode out to Cell 3 and found a flock of two-dozen Common Terns roosting on the mudflats next to open water.  A single Great Black-backed Gull was farther back taking a nap, while a non-breeding Bonaparte's Gull was between it and the terns.  The Forster's Terns were farther north in Cell 4, or in the Humphries Unit, but not on the mudflats.  Curious. There were no shorebirds.

I put the scope on the egret rookery in the Humphries Unit and counted almost 200 Double-crested Cormorants covering every single branch.  A pair of Cattle Egrets were building a nest, while several Great Egrets were already incubating on their nests.  Scattered Black-crowned Night Herons added to the crowd.

Returning along the Middle Causeway I stopped to digiscope a pair of Least Sandpipers in breeding plumage.  Their yellow legs and white 'racing' stripe along the back are diagnostic.

Hoping to find a Short-billed Dowitcher to digiscope in the low sunlight I quickly found a single bird nearby that provided wonderful looks and portrait images.

Having seen no more good birds I headed back home.  It was 8pm.

Epilogue:  Walt Pawlowski would call me on Saturday (12th) to report a Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) along Haagermann Rd. Dan Elliot would report three Whimbrel and several White Pelicans in Cells 3 and 4.

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