Sunday, May 4, 2014

Willets! - 04 May 2014

Happy Star Wars Day!  I went back down to Pt. Mouillee SGA this morning with the hopes of surveying the place after getting rained out, yesterday.  It was mostly cloudy and a bit breezy, but no rain was forecast.

The Mouillee Creek parking lot held a pair of singing Warbling Vireos and a pair of Yellow Warblers.
I would find another pair of Yellow Warblers setting up nest just up the Middle Causeway near the Nelson Unit.

A Swamp Sparrow was singing from a tree just across the creek, and buzzing other sparrows in the phragmites, so I was able to grab a quick digiscoped image or two.

I flushed the first of five Sora along the trail between Bloody Run and Long Pond Units.  I was able to get binos on the first bird after it landed in the cattails, but it would not come out of hiding. I would hear two more birds along the same trail, then flush birds in Cell 3 and again in the Nelson Unit.

I paused to see the first goslings of the year.  The Canada Geese were in the ditch to my left, so I grabbed a few pics w/ the D7100 and through the Zeiss 85T*Fl with the new Nikon 1 V3.

As I reached the canoe rail along the North Causeway I spotted a group of Dunlin foraging along the far shoreline.  I then found a large group of birds in open mudflats just inside the northeast corner of the Long Pond Unit, and among them were three Willet!  I hiked down into the mud and was able to digiscope two of the birds from about 50' away as they rested and called their "Pill-will-Willet" song.

I would find another Willet along the Middle Causeway in the NE corner of the Humphries Unit, and then another just before the Banana Unit!  They were cooperative for some digiscoping, and I was able to grab a few flight shots of the one that flew off, circled around, and landed in the same spot.

As I reached the Banana Unit I found an immature male Yellow-headed Blackbird among a group of Red-winged Blackbirds.  The male Redwings did not care for the intruder and constantly chased him off.  I was able to get a few pics before he was chased off toward the Humphries Unit.

Cell 3 held a couple hundred Dunlin, but nothing else.  But a few minutes later four Black-bellied Plovers flew in and landed among the smaller shorebirds.  I hiked out onto the mud flat and was able to get a few digiscoped images from about 60' away before they flew off to the north.

I rode around to the east side of Cell 3, where I flushed an aforementioned Sora, and saw a pair of Osprey either courting, or attempting to build a nest on one of the large pipes in the middle of the cell.  The odds appear not to be in their favor...

A group of Dunlin and a Lesser Yellowlegs were foraging near the shoreline below me, so I spent a few minutes digiscoping them from about 20' away.

I then headed back to the car, and drove over to Haggerman Rd. to see if any of yesterday's Lapland Longspurs were around.  They were not, but I did see four Bobolink males next to the fence surrounding the cell towers, and spent a few minutes photographing a Savannah Sparrow using the 300/2.8 VRII lens, 1.4TCEII, FT1 adapter, and Nikon V3 (EFL=1134 mm!).  I really like this combination - as I wrote yesterday focusing requires manual assist, but as soon as the bird is near focus, a quick press of the shutter locks in and 20fps later numerous razor-sharp images are acquired!

I then headed home for lunch at 12:30 pm.

Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe, US-MI
May 4, 2014 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Cloudy, breezy, but pleasant. Willet, Black-bellied Plover, Sora and Yellow-headed Blackbird were highlights; more photos/highlights on my blog:
45 species

Canada Goose  30     Several groups of adults w/ new goslings scattered around the entire SGA
Mute Swan  5
Gadwall  6     Walpatich Unit, Vermet Unit
American Black Duck  2
Mallard  12
Blue-winged Teal  30     All over - Vermet, Long Pond, Walpatich, Humphries Units
Northern Shoveler  6     Cell 3
Redhead  2     Cell 3
Lesser Scaup  40     Cell 3
Bufflehead  25     Most in Cell 3 but several in Humphries Unit; surprised to see so many this late!
Ruddy Duck  4
Pied-billed Grebe  6
Double-crested Cormorant  30     Mouillee Creek near pump house
Great Blue Heron  20
Great Egret  20
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Osprey  2     Attempting to nest in Cell 3 atop pipe;">
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Bald Eagle  1
Sora  5     3 in Long Pond Unit, 1 in Cell 3, 1 in Nelson Unit; saw three, heard two more;
American Coot  40
Black-bellied Plover  4     Cell 3; pre-alternate plumage; black arm pits
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  6
Willet  5     3 in Long Pond Unit, 2 in Humphries;">" />
Lesser Yellowlegs  6
Dunlin  200     40 in Long Pond, 160 in Cell 3
Bonaparte's Gull  1
Ring-billed Gull  12
Herring Gull  2
Caspian Tern  6
Common Tern  8     flying along Lake Erie shoreline
Forster's Tern  12
Warbling Vireo  2
Horned Lark  1
Purple Martin  6
American Robin  1
Yellow Warbler  5
Savannah Sparrow  1
Fox Sparrow  1     singing from Lautenschlager Unit
Song Sparrow  6
Swamp Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2
Bobolink  4     Cell towers on Haggerman Rd.
Red-winged Blackbird  200
Yellow-headed Blackbird  1     immature male in NE corner of Humphries Unit.  Photographed!">" />

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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