Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shorebirds Have Returned! - 30 Mar 2014

Lesser Yellowlegs
I drove down to Erie Marsh Preserve this morning with the hopes of finding some early shorebirds and open, inland water.  A stop at Lotus Rd. at approximately 8:45 am yielded bunches of Ring-billed Gulls, Canada Geese and a small flock of Green-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers. Bay Creek Road fields held good numbers of Ring-necked Ducks, Mute Swans and Green-winged Teal.

When I arrived at EMP I found Scott Jennex and Mary Trombley just getting ready to walk the dikes. They had just come from Lotus Road and had found 3 Greater White-fronted Geese.  Did I miss them?

A quick scan of the Lake Erie inlet yielded the first shorebirds of the year: a pair of Greater Yellowlegs! Just before leaving a gorgeous Common Merganser floated by for some nice portraits.

Greater Yellowlegs
We headed out onto the dikes and expected lots of mud! Surprisingly the tractors have scraped the main trail so walking was 'easy'.  We found more Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs in the first 100 yds. of our travels.

Lesser Yellowlegs

American Wigeon
Waterfowl were moving in big numbers.  Flocks of American Wigeon passed overhead, followed by Green-winged Teal and Ring-necked Ducks.

Green-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck

Pectoral Sandpiper
Near the edge of the construction dig Scott found a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers.  I was able to get a few digiscoped images in the severely-backlit conditions.  Killdeer were also nearby in small groups of 3-4.

The first Great Egrets appeared up ahead; one in a tree and three flushing from the grass to our left.

Mary saw our first Blue-winged Teal of the spring.  I managed a few fly-by captures, and we would see many more birds during our walk.

The sulfur pond was quiet, but we counted 8 Bald Eagles in the trees to the east of the pond.  We were delighted when they took off and started to soar directly overhead.  Six of the birds were either 2nd or 3rd year birds, while one adult and one 4th year bird (white head / white tail/black band) were also present.

We continued heading east toward Lake Erie but stopped to scope a large field filled with hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, hundreds of Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Ring-necked Ducks, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, and more pintail.  Unfortunately I couldn't get close enough for photos, so had to settle for long-distance scope views.  We headed back and stopped long enough to scan a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds hoping to find a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but w/o luck.  Female Red-wings have finally arrived.

A pair of Bufflehead next to the dike on the return trip provided some nice closeup views.  We could even see their iridescence w/o binoculars.

We returned to the cars and said my farewell. I drove back to Lotus Rd. but couldn't relocate the GWFG.  But I did find a Turkey Vulture on the side of the road that stayed long enough for a quick photo from the car.

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