Monday, May 19, 2014

The Place for Rarities! - 18 May 2014

Pointe Mouillee State Game Area in n. Monroe Co., MI.  Currently showing:
Black-necked Stilt
Tricolored Heron
Snowy Egret
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Little Gull
Red-necked Phalarope
White-faced Ibis
Black Tern
White-winged Scoter
White-rumped Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Dunlin (all of them)

The last three may not be rarities, but eBird requested further documentation. Especially the Dunlin, where I estimated 2000-3000 birds in Cell 3 alone. 

Scott Terry, Adam Byrne and John McDaniel found a Black-necked Stilt in the Lautenschlager Unit on Saturday near the north end, so yesterday I tried to follow up on the report.  I rode the east side of unit toward the NW corner when I saw it circling over the pond then settling down.  Before I could even get off the bike, though, the bird was back in the air and flying off to the west toward the Walpatich Unit.  I managed only a couple of flight shots. This image is a composite of the two best.

A flock of Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers flew in and landed just a few feet away, so I spent a few minutes digiscoping them.

I then headed toward the North Causeway where I found a small flock of Dunlin and a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers in the Long Pond Unit.  Marsh Wrens were finally singing, so it was good to hear them.

In the NW corner of the Vermet Unit I spotted one (of two reported today) Snowy Egret in the shallows, but it took off the moment I laid eyes on it.  I managed a few flight shots as it flew lazily toward the SE corner of the Long Pond Unit.  A pair of Ruddy Turnstones along the shoreline entertained me as I walked the bike back toward the Middle Causeway.

Though I would look I did not see either the (4) White-faced Ibis or the Tricolored Heron.  Others saw them earlier in the morning, so they are still around.  A  pair of Osprey are nesting in the Humphries Unit.

An impressive flock of Dunlin and Ruddy Turnstones were working the north shoreline of the Humphries Unit near the eastern corner where the phragmites were burned away last spring.  Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles were scattering in all directions along this stretch of the Middle Causeway, but I could not find a Yellow-headed Blackbird among them.

Along the east side of Cell 3 a scope scan of the north shoreline of exposed water revealed hundreds and hundreds of Dunlin huddling / roosting among the exposed mudflats/peninsulas.  A few Short-billed Dowitchers and Semipalmated Sandpipers were among them, but their numbers were the most I've ever seen here in the spring. Luckily a few Dunlin and Semipalms flew to the near shore, where I could digiscope them from about 20' away.

A surprise bird appeared when a flock of ducks took off for the middle of Cell 3. Among the Northern Shovelers, Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, Mallard, Ruddy Ducks and Redhead was a single White-winged Scoter!

Out on the Lake Erie shoreline, where exposed sand appeared opposite Cell 3, a flock of ~24 Sanderlings were stretched out along a 1/4 mile distance. Most birds were in breeding plumage, but a couple of birds were still in non-breeding plumage.

From the south side of Cell 3 a scope scan of the SW corner produced hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls, and the two Little Gulls first reported on the 15th.  A pair of Red-necked Phalarope could be seen swimming among the hundreds of Dunlin foraging in the area. A Black Tern was also a nice find near the tip of the muddy peninsula.

The Red-necked Phalaropes were close to shore along the west side of Cell 3, so I spent some time photographing and digiscoping them in the low, backlit conditions.  Gorgeous birds!

As I rode back to the car, a Yellow-headed Blackbird flushed from the grass next to the Middle Causeway in hot pursuit by a Red-winged Blackbird; both birds squabbling for (apparent) territory.
I could only watch them disappear back to the east. 

Though I missed out on the White-faced Ibis, Tricolored Heron and Whimbrel, all three species would be reported/photographed today by other birders.  If you can, now is the time to hit Pt. Moo!


Charles Owens Gallery said...

Gheez, what a great day with great photos as usual from you sir. You are an inspiration for me to go out and buy some good hiking shoes so I can get out there and see some of these birds myself.

david boon said...

The Jourdanian!! Making Pictures! Great Stuff Jerry.I usually try to make it to the Moo at least twice a week around May,but due to a double hernia and ops and all that n everything,I bird vicariously through your blog and some of the pictures are just mind blowing.I hope to see at least some stuff when the birds 'go the other way'In the meantime keep up the Great Work!!

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