On Territory! - 28 Feb 2021


Dark skies and a steady rain was not what I was hoping to wake up to, so my plan for biking Pt. Mouillee had to be altered. I decided I would drive down to Erie Marsh and walk the dikes. Luckily, the rain slowed to a slight mist by the time I reached the Summit Rd exit.

A pair of Tundra Swans were swimming in a puddle among a dozen Mallard and 2 dozen Canada Geese as I drove past freshly-thawed corn fields. The first of many Red-winged Blackbirds appeared on the wires overhead as dark silhouettes against the ashened skies.

The Lotus Rd. canal was partially opened but only a few pair of Canada Geese and Mallard were present. No gulls. A pair of Gadwall were the highlight. 

I then drove over to Erie Marsh Preserve. The gates were closed, but it was the misty rain, ice-covered ponds, and lack of birds anywhere that discouraged me from continuing.  I would continue on Bay Creek Rd. to look for raptors.

What I thought was a murmuration of starlings turned out to be an impressive flock of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds! I found ~1000 - 1500 birds foraging next to the road as I rounded the curve. I would have to settle for pics through an open passenger-side window.


A stop at the foot of Erie Rd. and the remains of the J.R. Whiting Power Plant gave me the first Red-winged Blackbird on territory. Atop phragmites and against gray skies I managed a few pics of a singing male.






A fly-over flock of Tundra Swans passed by as I was heading toward the lake.




The Lake Erie shoreline was quiet. Still, a massive cottonwood laying on its side was worth a few photos.

I'd find another singing Red-winged Blackbird at the entrance to the Wm. C. Sterling State Park. Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were roosting on the thinning ice but I decided to get a few more pics of the RWBB.

 

Next stop. Luna Pier. Nothing.


I'd make a final stop at Pt. Mouillee HQ and find the Huron River opening up. Rafts of Redhead, Canvasback, and Ring-necked Ducks were swimming out in the middle of the river, and only a single Common Goldeneye was near shore. I managed a few pics of it swimming before the drake took flight, circled, and passed by a second time.







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