Yesterday morning Andrew Sturgess found a Western Sandpiper in Cell 3 at Pt. Mouillee SGA in n. Monroe Co. MI. He posted several pics on Facebook and generated a ton of positive comments. Then he was fortunate to find a pair of (banded) Piping Plovers in the same location! So I headed down there this afternoon with the hopes that they might still be around. Nope.
Pete and Noreen Kryluk arrived at Roberts Rd. parking lot just seconds before I did in the late afternoon sun. As we were chatting an old man in a pickup drove slowly through the parking lot area with nothing but a scowl and a glare on his face. No idea if that was his normal appearance, or whether he was really pissed about something, but I decided not to engage... Pete said that they would catch up, so I took off to look for the birds. I stayed long enough to digiscope a cooperative Eastern Kingbird next to the boat launch.
I scoped the S end of Cell 3 and found only a single Wilson's Phalarope among several Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, 4 Pectoral Sandpipers and a Short-billed Dowitcher. A large group of American White Pelicans were roosting at the tip of the mud peninsula.
I then walked around to the west side of the Cell and found David Stimac with his photography gear. He reported seeing neither the Western Sandpiper nor the Piping Plovers, but did see several Baird's Sandpipers. Although I scanned the mudflats I could only come up w/ Sanderlings - about 14 total. Another group of American White Pelicans were roosting in a larger group at the north end of the Cell and were soon joined by the group from the S end. When a passing trail bike scared them all into moving (grrrr) I was able to count 92 birds! Wow!
I spent the next while scoping the mudflats and shoreline looking for birds, but came up empty on rarities. I found a pair of Semipalmated Plovers, approximately 36 Short-billed Dowitchers, 18 Stilt Sandpipers, three dozen each Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, and about 40 Lesser Yellowlegs. I thought I was seeing some Baird's Sandpipers, but after reviewing some pics I realized I was digiscoping Sanderlings at a distance.
Out on the dike ahead of me I noticed an odd-looking Red-winged Blackbird. When I put the scope to him I noticed that he was missing all of his head feathers!
I returned to the S end of the Cell and found 3 American Avocets at the end of the now-empty mud point. Too far to digiscope I turned my attention on 3 Baltimore Orioles in the distance behind me (Cell 2).
I stopped on the way back to the car to grab a quick photo of a Lesser Yellowlegs pair in Cell 1, which is now dry. This little puddle is next to the ditch.