Monday, September 14, 2015

A Not-So Humbug Morning - 07 Sep 2015

Sunrise brought rich, crimson skies and wet, dewy vegetation at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Gateway. Today was going to be a hot one, with temps in the upper 80's and humidity near 100%, so I began to second-guess my decision to wear waders. But it wasn't too bad. The scenery (and birds!) more than made up for the bit of discomfort.

As the sun rose over the Detroit River the Double-crested Cormorants were nicely back-lit against the red skies. The main pond was still, with a velvet-buck foraging along the far side (near the road) while I watched a pair of Great Egrets forage closer-by.

As I looked around me the fields were nicely back-lit against the rising sun. Non-native Setaria grass (thanks for the ID Julie Craves) and spider webs bejeweled the landscape.

Large clumps of Boneset grew all around me, while newly-flowing Goldenrod popped up in sporadic locations.

I worked my way around construction equipment and made for the start of the trail at the north fence. I hadn't explored the trails in several years and was anxious to see what new surprises might be in store. Creatures were starting to stir, and a Monarch Butterfly larvae made a most-endearing subject for the flash. Nearby, boxelder bugs were congregating on milkweed pods that had yet to open. Rough-leaved Dogwoods (thanks again, Julie!) lined the trails and obscured my view of the ponds to my right.

The sun hadn't quite reached the trails, yet, so the ground was wet and lines of silk were everywhere! One point for waders...

With the place still under construction there hasn't been much trail maintenance, so the path was encroaching ahead of me. Not too bad at this point, but it will be much cleaner looking (I'm assuming) once the refuge opens for regular visitors.

As I walked I looked, and listened, for birds. Black-capped Chickadees were all about, and an occasional White-breasted Nuthatch broke the monotony of their song. Eastern Wood-Pewee could be heard in the distance singing its "Pee-a-wiiii" song, but I couldn't relocate it without leaving the trail.

The woods were quietly impressive. I love seeing the massive oaks and the dark, shadowy trees fading in the distance. Clumps of mushrooms (ID unknown at this time) were sprouting everywhere; on the trail and off.

As I returned toward the fields I finally got close enough to a pair of House Wrens that chattered at my presence. They were two of about 8 total wrens seen and heard during my walk, but the only two that were close enough point a camera at.  They didn't disappoint!

First signs of autumn were present, as well. The Hickory Trees were starting to brown-up and show some of the their mottled, yellow colors. A single Staghorn Sumac showed brilliant red leaves against the still-green vegetation lining the small stream that exploded with Wood Ducks on my approach.

With the heat coming on and the sun starting to bake me, I didn't spend too much time back in the field. But I did want to grab a few pics of the sunflowers and milkweed growing in sparse patches.

A lovely way to start a Labor Day Holiday.

Thank you, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, for allowing me access to this gem of nature on the Detroit River! More photos to follow.

Detroit River IWR -- Humbug Marsh (restricted access), Wayne, Michigan, US
Sep 7, 2015 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments: Hot, humid, relatively quiet morning; Special access.
35 species

Canada Goose 15
Wood Duck 4
Mallard 7
Ring-necked Pheasant 1 heard only
Double-crested Cormorant 25
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 2
Green Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 1
Bald Eagle 1
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Ring-billed Gull 20
Mourning Dove 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
American Kestrel 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Tree Swallow 6
Black-capped Chickadee 8
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 8
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 1
European Starling 30
Song Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 6
Red-winged Blackbird 24
Common Grackle 12
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 2

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Julie Craves said...

Jerry, your photo of bottlebrush grass is actually a non-native Setaria. Also, nearly all the dogwoods at Humbug are Rough-leaved (Cornus drummondii) not Red-osier. Next time you are there, feel the leaves and you will understand how they got their name!

Jerry said...

Thank you, Julie!

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