Black-necked Stilts On Nest - 24 Jun 2022

Two pair of Black-necked Stilts have been reported nesting at Pt. Mouillee SGA in Monroe Co., MI. This is exciting news since the species hasn't nested here in years. My last recollection was 2008 when a pair had nested and fledged at least 2 chicks.

This morning I started out at Mouillee Creek and rode around to the north end of the Walpatich Unit. Marsh Wrens were the highlight but Common Gallinules were also a nice find. Continuing north along the Nelson Unit to the North Causeway I encountered several Indigo Buntings, Common Yellowthroats, and more wrens. I failed to hear any Sedge Wrens.

Temps were in the 80s with clear skies and almost no wind, so the ride was quite pleasant. The Huron River and Lake Erie were calm. Halloween Pennants and Blue Darners were abundant, as well as several Widow Skimmers and Black Saddlebags highlighting the dragonfly observations.

As I rode around Cell 5 the trail was thick with waist-high clover so only tire tracks were navigable. As I circled around back toward the west side of the Banana I took in five American White Pelicans flying overhead toward Cell 4.

Crossing the Middle Causeway I noticed one of the Black-necked Stilts on nest at the SE corner of the Humphries Unit. Two other stilts were foraging nearby, but I didn't see the fourth. I decided to continue on around Cell 3 and check on the beach for any shorebirds.

The beach was empty of birds except for an Osprey that had just caught a fresh shad. It flew off as I approached. At the junction of Cells 2 - 3, which had been impassible due to spring flooding, I decided to walk the path to see if any shorebird habitat was available. The grass was thick, but the ground was dry. I was able to get nice looks at three Spotted Sandpipers foraging among the cracked mud in a ditch next to the patch. 

As I returned to the Middle Causeway I spotted several pickup trucks and a number of people congregating with yellow safety vests. Worried that they might be mowing I asked one of them what their intentions were; they were doing surveys and interested to learn of the nesting stilts.

With several stilts near shore I decided to take a few images with the Sony a1 and 200-600mm lens. Not wanting to disturb the foraging birds I crawled through the grass and photographed them from the edge of the grass line.

I was surprised to see three Dunlin and a Semipalmated Sandpiper nearby.

One of the Black-necked Stilts foraged near the nest while another foraged several meters away. A third bird was farther down the causeway near roosting Forster's Terns.

As I rode back west along the Middle Causeway a young American Kestrel flew past me. I managed to get a few flight shots as it wheeled back east toward the Sun with a Red-winged Blackbird in hot pursuit. 

Footnote: Justin Labadie reported 14 Greater Yellowlegs a day later on 25 Jun 2021 along with several Lesser Yellowlegs. This is about a week early for Fall shorebird migration to start. 


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