Monday, August 27, 2012
Binge-Birding, Pt. 2 - 25 Aug 2012
The group showed up, and we all piled into vehicles and headed into the refuge. We stopped long enough to scope an immature Little Blue Heron (all white) among a group of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. Size was all we had to tell it apart from the larger Great Egret and the smaller Snowy Egrets.
We managed to scope out 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, a Black-bellied Plover, 3-4 Baird's Sandpipers, and a pair of White-rumped Sandpipers among Pectoral Sandpipers, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpipers. Scopes were required, so the only pics I took were of the Whimbrel.
We would head to the south (?) end of the refuge where we picked up Short-billed Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. Bonaparte's Gulls, Common Terns, Forter's Terns, and Ring-billed Gulls were roosting in shallow water among dozens of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and 4 Snowy Egrets.
With temps in the mid 90's, we were sweltering. The tour ended about 1 pm, but Rebecca Hinkley, our US Fish and Wildlife escort, took us to a nearby mudflat where we picked up a Red-necked Phalarope, and another Stilt Sandpiper. Several more RN Phalaropes were seen yesterday, as was a Wilson's Phalarope that was not seen today. With time running short, we called it a day. Thanks, Sherrie, you were terrific (as always!). And thank you, Rebecca and Ethan! A great day.
Exhaused, I headed for home at about 3 pm. I stayed long enough to feed the kitties, and head over to Mom's for dinner. A half-hour nap, and a hearty meal had me thinking about quitting for the day, but I forced myself to head back to Pt. Mouillee. Lyle Hamilton had reported 6 Red-necked Phalaropes, 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers, Whimbrels and a Hudsonian Godwit in the Vermet Unit. I figured I go see if any of those birds were still around.
This evening I parked at Robert's Road parking lot and rode into Pt. Mouillee SGA from the south end. I spotted one Red-necked Phalarope on the far side of the Humphries Unit, but that was the only one for the night. Cell 3 was activley being filled with more dredgings, so any hopes of it being drained for shorebirds was all-but dashed.
I spent the next 20 minutes watching the bird head out over Cell 4 and attack / strafe everything in its path: Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Mallard, Black Ducks, Great Blue Herons, Spotted Sandpipers, and whatever else was on the shoreline dike of Cell 4. The winds were providing great lift for the falcon, that rose upward, then stooped like a bullet toward its next victim. Unfortunately she never returned to my direction, and continued on south over the Humphries Unit.
We returned to the SW corner and looked (unsuccessfully) for the Hudsonian Godwit. We did manage to pick out a half-dozen Stilt Sandpipers among the Lesser Yellowlegs, but it was not easy. The winds must've pushed most of the shorebirds to newer destinations.
I would head home and call it an end to the weekend (?).