Monday, August 7, 2017

Long Pond Shorebirding - 05 Aug 2017

A late afternoon drive took me to Siegler Rd. and the North Causeway of Pt. Mouillee SGA. I unhitched the bike, grabbed the scope and cameras, and took off for the Long Pond Unit to look for shorebirds. Reports from earlier today indicated the presence of Long-billed Dowitcher and Red-necked Phalarope.

I passed a pair of worn Lesser Scaup in the Huron River to my left. To my right the marsh was eerily quiet, with only a distant Great Blue Heron seen flying over the cattails. I reached the spot where a small section of the unit was cultivated for farming and left the bike. The sun was shining from the west, so much of my view was going to be backlit.

A Pied-billed Grebe was poking its head out of the duckweeds and gave me something to digiscope. It was soon joined by several more grebes and soon skittered over the water to places unknown.

As I put the scope on the far mudflats I spotted a pair of large plovers: American Golden Plovers. Note the dark caps, bold white supercillium and gold-flecked back feathers. This appears to be a molting adult since black belly feathers are still somewhat visible.

A flock of three Short-billed Dowitchers flew overhead and landed nearby. I digiscoped them despite the poor lighting, as well.

To my left a small pond held some Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers. Only a single Lesser Yellowlegs would stick around for an image or two.

As I scoped the far reaches of the unit I spotted the Long-billed Dowitcher foraging among several Short-billed Dowitchers. It was easily recognized as a bulkier, dull gray dowitcher obviously in molt. I would also spot the Red-necked Phalarope even farther beyond. Too far for any useful pics.

A large roost of Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns were nearby, so I decided to try my hand at videotaping the Caspian Terns in flight. These stills were taken from the 4K footage. Not bad...

While I returned to the bike a Bobolink appeared ahead of me on the phragmites. I spent a few minutes photographing it from 40' away.

I continued on around the Vermet Unit to check the Banana Unit and the patch of open area of Cell 5 where dredging had been pumped. It was dry and void of birds.

I came back down the Middle Causeway and spotted the immature (white) Little Blue Heron in the SW corner of the Vermet. Unfortunately for me a number of nearby Great Egrets spooked as I stopped and caused it to fly off far enough to discourage digiscoping. It had landed on the small peninsula that appears late in the year in the SW corner of the unit, but I didn't have time to hike out and spook the birds, further.

I continued on to the dike separating the Long Pond and Bloody Run Units and headed back toward the North Causeway. Here the Sun was behind me, and lighting was now good for some proper digiscoping. An immature Green Heron was a most cooperative first subject.

Lesser Yellowlegs were abundant in this part of the marsh, and foraged close to shore.

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Pectoral Sandpipers were also present, but more skittish.

I'll have to remember to check this stretch again at around 6:30 - 7:00 pm again, as the Golden Hour approaches.

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