Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fall Shorebirding and Mink! - 02 Jul 2016

I parked at the Siegler Rd. parking lot of Pt. Mouillee SGA this morning and headed out on the North Causeway on bike. A pair of Marsh Wrens were singing from the cattails along the shoreline, but would not show themselves even though they were just a few feet away. Forster's Terns were patrolling the shoreline but not giving me any photo opps.

I rode out to the Vermet Unit where two dozen Great Egrets were roosting along the shoreline. I couldn't spot any shorebirds, so I continued on toward the Middle Causeway where Red-winged Blackbirds were swarming the phragmites. Although I looked for a Yellow-headed Blackbird I would not see any until the trip back when a juvenile male bird (yellow head no white wing bars) flushed across the road in front of me.

I was surprised to find a dozen Bobolink foraging in the planted field to my right, so I spent some time digiscoping several males and females that perched high enough on the clover and phragmites.

I continued on toward Cell 3 of the Banana Unit and rode out to the northeast corner where I was greeted by 3 young Mink playing in the trail ahead of me. Although I stopped in the middle of the trail the three young weasels chased each other in and out of the brush and wrestled in the middle of trail just 30 feet away.

At one point they stopped and realized I was photographing them, then just continued wrestling and chasing each other. I was finally able to get some keeper photos of a nemesis mammal that has eluded my camera all these years!

I found a scattering of shorebirds in Cell 3 as I walked the Lake Erie shoreline along the east side of the cell. This summer's drought has really affected water levels here; only a small patch of open water remains, with the entire north end of the cell dry and growing green grass. Still, there were a dozen Lesser Yellowlegs foraging among two dozen Killdeer along the near shore.

Out in the middle of the cell were several Green-winged Teal swimming near a group of Bonaparte's Gulls and a pair of Little Gulls! A pair of teal were close by and allowed a few digiscoped images before waddling off to water.

More Lesser Yellowlegs and Killdeer were scattered along the edge of the water line while Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers were foraging on the drying mud far out in the middle of the cell. Fall migration has begun about a week ahead of time!

I found a couple of Short-billed Dowitchers and spent some digiscoping one individual that was foraging about 100' away.

I then found a Stilt Sandpiper that was nearby, and spent some time digiscoping it.

Several more Short-billed Dowitchers were seen nearby, including one individual that appears to be a non-breeding adult Hendersoni. However, I could not rule out a possible Griseus subspecies. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any better images from this distance.

I returned and spent a few more minutes digiscoping this Hendersoni Short-billed Dowitcher just a few feet from the near shoreline.

While digiscoping the shorebirds along the east shoreline a group of six American White Pelicans flew in from the Humphries Unit. They were heading straight toward me, so I stopped what I was doing and got some nice photos of them flying directly overhead. One bird must've just seen me because it gave me a poop-shot as it floated by! :)

I then rode around the south end of Cell 3 and back out to the west side and returned to the Middle Causeway where the Yellow-headed Blackbird made a brief appearance. I was unable to get a clean fly-by shot of the bird, but did manage a record photo. My only other photo opp was an Indigo Bunting that made a brief appearance before flying off.

Three Black Terns flying by Cell 4 were a nice find. First ones this summer for me!

I drove down Haggerman Rd. on my way home, but could not hear any Dickcissels along the fence surrounding the Antennae Farm. Good news, though; Greg Norwood reported many Dickcissels being seen in the Refuge Units that have been recently converted from farm fields back to prairie!

1 comment:

Cathy Carroll said...

Nice series of photos of the mink. Several years ago I saw one running along the east end of the Lead Unit. I know we shouldn't be happy they are there, but they sure are cute.

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