Sunday, June 1, 2014

Red Knots and Pelicans - 31 May 2014

After a gorgeous, sunny day here in SE Michigan I took a late-afternoon run down to Pt. Mouillee. A stiff wind from the east greeted me, so I had to lose the hat and don a second shirt as I rode the Middle Causeway toward the Banana Unit. A fly-by Sandhill Crane was a nice treat.

A pair of Snowy Egrets and a Whimbrel were nice finds in the west edge of the Humphries Unit just out from the Pump house. Otherwise the wind was whipping up the Red-winged Blackbirds along the Humphries and Long Pond Units.  I could not relocate the Tricolored Heron along the south shore of the Vermet Unit.

When I arrived at Cell 3 I was greeted by significantly fewer shorebirds than in the past few weeks. Semipalmated Sandpipers now outnumbered Dunlin, whose numbers were fast dwindling.  A pair of American White Pelicans were quietly sitting at the edge of the mud flats that were occupied by several dozen Caspian and Forster's Terns, a pair of Black Terns (nice), and a few Bonaparte's Gulls.

A Dunlin flew in from the shoreline and landed a few feet away, giving me a few flight shots before it landed.

A female Yellow-headed Blackbird appeared nearby and foraged along the mudflat in front of me.  I digiscoped it from about 30' away. Farther out were another 6 of a dozen Ruddy Turnstones that were still in the area.

I left the bike and walked down to the SW corner of Cell 3 where I found 3 White-rumped Sandpipers foraging among a dozen Semipalms.

A scope scan of the mudflat peninsula yielded 4 Red Knots! and another Whimbrel.  I would also see three Sanderlings.

As I headed back toward the bike the entire flock of terns, gulls and shorebirds lifted off the mud and swirled around for several minutes. I could not see why (no Peregrine in view). But I did count 6 Black Terns among the flock, so that was a nice bonus.

Just before reaching the Middle Causeway I enjoyed close looks at a Forster's Tern riding the wind next to the dike. Its kiting allowed me to grab several flight shots.

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