Whimbrel Migration Underway - 23 May 2023

The first reports of Whimbrel sightings surfaced yesterday, so I grabbed the bike and headed to Pt. Mouillee SGA to look for birds. It would be my first outing since a week and half ago. Shorebirds had been reported in Cell 1, including Red-necked Phalaropes, so I parked at Roberts Road and biked out along the South Causeway to Cell 1. 

Cell 1 has been largely cleared, and large ponds could be seen from the west side. The first pond held several dozen Dunlin and Semipalmated Sandpipers, but no visible phalaropes. As I arrived they took off in flight and made several circles around the pond before settling down several minutes later. 

Once they had settled down a scope view failed to turn up any oddities, so I continued along the Banana northward to Cell 2, which consisted mainly of flooded cornfields, but no visible shorebirds. At the junction of Cells 2 and 3 visible signs of construction were apparent, so I looped east along the path separating the two cells and headed north along the east side of Cell 3. There, the beach was empty of birds while Cell 3 itself was a massive expanse of fresh-plowed dirt and new mounds and internal dikes; it will be interesting to see what it turns into.

The south end of Cell 4 was quiet. A few gulls hung out on the barge along the east shoreline with a juvenile Greater Black-backed Gull among them. A pair of Redhead swam along the west side of the barge, and a late-season Horned Grebe was a nice find; the poor guy looked bedraggled despite sporting fresh alternate plumage.

As I approached the Middle Causeway a couple of American White Pelicans floated by on the mild breeze. 

Heading west along the Middle Causeway the NE corner of the Humphries Unit was quiet. A pair of Sandhill Cranes were standing quietly in the path as I approached and slowly sauntered toward the Vermet side of the trail.

I then took the dike separating Vermet and Long Pond Units northward toward the North Causeway with the purpose of looping around the Banana Unit back to Roberts Road. Along the way I spotted four more pelicans roosting among the Canada Geese and Mallard in the Long Pond Unit. I had hoped to digiscope them but they took off flying as soon as stopped. Luckily, they circled around, headed directly at me, then gave a fly-by that allowed some nice pics with the 600mm f/4.

Once I reached the North Causeway I turned eastward and headed back toward the Banana Unit. Though backlit by the morning Sun I could see a flock of shorebirds occupying a small spit of mud just opposite the canoe rails heading into the middle of the Vermet Unit. From their size I knew immediately that I had just found some Whimbrel! The icing came in the form of a flock of Ruddy Turnstones that flew in just as I was arriving to join the Whimbrels and more turnstones. They approached, circled once to the west, and returned to roost among the other shorebirds.

I took a few minutes to scope the crowd in case they decided to flush upon approach. I was able to count 12 Whimbrel and 42 Ruddy Turnstones along with 8 Dunlin and a pair of Sanderlings.

Digiscoping proved to be difficult with backlighting and haze wreaking havoc with critical focusing, so I slowly approached the shorbs and was able to walk past them to a location with the Sun behind me. There, I was able to get some nice digiscoped images with the Sony a1 along w/ pics from the 600/4.

I needed to retrieve my bike, so I headed past the birds to get it. It was then I saw Ben Lucking and Steve Menzi (visiting from the UK) approaching, so I reported my findings and allowed them to get pics and scope views before attempting to walk by the flock with the bike.

The birds were obliging, and I was able to get past them before continuing on around Cell 5 and the Lake Erie shoreline. Along the way I managed to flush two flocks of Whimbrel hiding among the rocks next to shore. One group held 12 birds while the second group had another 4. 

Once around Cell 5 I ran into Bruce Arnold who was coming from the beach along Cell 3. He reported seeing some Whimbrel in flight, as did Brett (from Connecticut) who was visiting on foot. I ran into him first thing along the South Causeway next to Cell 2 and now again along Cell 4; he was putting in the miles on his inaugural visit to Pt. Moo.

The ride back was relatively uneventful. The beach was again empty after Bruce had reported seeing some Ruddy Turnstones during his time there. But, I did run into a nice flock of 200+ Dunlin and Semipalmated Sandpipers along Cell 1 south of the causeway. I scoped them in beautiful lighting and managed to pick out a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers, but nothing else.

I headed back to the car and got myself home in time for lunch.

Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe, Michigan, US
May 23, 2023 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
10.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Calm, overcast, 70F
42 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  4
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)  12
Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)  4
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  200     Long Pond and Bloody Run Units
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  6
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  6
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  2
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)  1
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)  26
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)  42     On a small mudspit along North Causeway opposite Vermet. Flew in as a flock and roosted among 12 Whimbrel and 8 Dunlin. Exact count.
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  220
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  4
White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)  16
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  1
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  6
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  2
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)  1
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  6
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)  6
Double-crested Cormorant (Nannopterum auritum)  1
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  36
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  2
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  2
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  6
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  6
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  36
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  12
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  2

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S138997446

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (https://ebird.org/home)