Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Pelican Brief - 11 Jul 2014

I arrived at Mouillee Creek shortly after 4 pm and rode the Middle Causeway toward the Walpatich Unit. Swamp Sparrows were singing in the tall grass adjacent to the cattail marsh. American Goldfinches were foraging the thistle along the dike as most had gone to seed. An Indigo Bunting was singing in the SW corner of the Lautenschlager, but I was unable to get the scope on it quick enough before he flew away.

I headed toward the north end of the Lautenschlager Unit to see if any shorebirds were around. I found a pair of Least Sandpipers among a half-dozen Killdeer. The highlight was hearing the bugling from three Sandhills Cranes in the unit. I spotted one bird in the phragmites, then was able to watch as all three flew the unit toward the Nelson Unit. Before reaching the Long Pond Unit I spent a few minutes digiscoping a male Common Yellowthroat and a female Red-winged Blackbird.

Marsh Wrens were actively singing in the Long Pond Unit but none were in view. The North Causeway was recently graded and I managed to kick up every loose stone. Biking was not pleasant. The west shoreline of the Vermet Unit held a few Lesser Yellowlegs, and more goldfinches, otherwise pretty quiet. Construction was going on near Cell 5 of the Banana Unit and large dust plumes were drifting over the Vermet. The Great Egrets were squawking their disapproval. I did spot a family of Mallard that took cover under some lily pads as I approached. They were not entirely hidden...

I returned to the Middle Causeway and headed toward the Banana while scanning the Vermet for the Tricolored Herons, which were not to be found. Three Lesser Scaup were swimming in Cell 4. As I rode toward Cell 3 I scanned the phragmites for a Yellow-headed Blackbird that would also not show. Another Indigo Bunting was a nice consolation.

The water in Cell 3 is starting to dry up. The north end of open cell now has exposed mudflats, and Killdeer and Lesser Yellowlegs were strung out along its length. In the NW corner Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were roosting. A few Bonaparte's Gulls were present, but no Little Gulls. A nice mix of Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers were foraging near shores. I spent a few minutes Digiscoping them from just 25' away. A single Stilt Sandpiper was the highlight.


Out in the middle of the cell the American White Pelicans gathered in a large flock that numbered almost 30 birds. Another dozen birds were roosting on the mud in the SW corner of the cell.

As I walked toward the SW corner I ran into David Amomoto and we chatted a bit before spent some time scanning the shoreline for shorebirds. A flock of Short-billed Dowitchers (18 birds) and a single Wilson's Phalarope were spread out along the shoreline while dozens of Common, Forster's, Caspian and Black Terns roosted near the point. I would walk around to the south side of the cell and scope for both Arctic Tern and Little Gull, but would not find any. A steady stream of the birds were taking off in threes and fours toward Lake Erie, so it's possible that they might still be around.

The American Avocet was near the south shore so I spent a few minutes Digiscoping it before it moved away to safer distances.

Convinced that I would not see anything more this evening I headed back to the car and over to Haggerman Rd. and the antennae farm to look for Dickcissels. One bird was perched on 'his' tree next to the fence and provided some nice Digiscoping from just 20' away. With the sun beginning to set I packed up and headed home.

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