1st Shorebirds of 2024 - 30 Mar 2024

This past week Bruce Arnold has reported the first Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin and Wilson's Snipe at Erie Marsh Preserve in s. Monroe County. I took the opportunity to run down there this morning at 8:30 am to look for said shorebirds. Skies were clear and calm but temps were 25F; surprisingly warm enough to not need gloves (for short periods).

A number of ducks (2 dozen) were swimming in the open waters of the flooded field along Bay Creek Road but severely backlit by the morning Sun rise so I didn't bother try to ID. Dozens of European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles were lining the road and making a ruckus on this sunny morning.

As I pulled into the Erie Marsh Preserve off Dean Road I spotted a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs in the opening to the first pond on my left. A Carolina Wren was singing overhead but I was unable to get my Audubon App to work to try to call it in. So I grabbed the scope and digiscoped the pair of Lesser Yellowlegs.

A pair of Green-winged Teal were nearby. The male was camera shy but the green speculum on the female shone in the early morning Sun.

The first of a half-dozen Greater Yellowlegs appeared nearby, as well. 

As I was digiscoping them a small flock of 6 suspected Dunlin flew past, but they would ultimately be ID'd as Pectoral Sandpipers.

I parked in the small lot near the maintenance yard and scoped the bay behind me. Ten American White Pelicans were swimming among hundreds of Red-breasted Mergansers and Lesser Scaup. They were backlit, as well, so I didn't bother trying to photograph them.

I walked out to the first pond where several small flocks of Pectoral Sandpipers (25 total) and Killdeer (6) were foraging close enough for some digiscoping with the Sony a1 and Sony 40mm f/2.5 and Digidapter DLM.

I spotted a single Wilson's Snipe foraging near the Pectoral Sandpipers so the scope's attention was averted.

I had planned to walk the trails out to Pond 4 but I spotted a fellow birder in a ghilli suit and camera snuggled up at the turn ahead. Not wanting to disturb him I turned around and headed back to the car.
An American Robin decided to investigate me just a few feet away as a consolation.

Erie Marsh Preserve/Gun Club (no access Sep 1-Dec 31), Monroe, Michigan, US
Mar 29, 2024 8:08 AM - 9:02 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.713 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Clear, calm, 27F
17 species (+1 other taxa)

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  8
Greater/Lesser Scaup (Aythya marila/affinis)  120
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)  350
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  24
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2
Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  1
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  6
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)  31     25 in 1st entry pond and 6 more at east end among Killdeer and snipe
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  6
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  5
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  10     Swimming in canal s of parking lot
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  4
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  32
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged) (Agelaius phoeniceus [phoeniceus Group])  57
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  6

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S166332442

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

I then drove over to the Erie Road Fluddle but found it largely frozen and free of any shorebirds. So I continued on toward Sterling State Park. Red-breasted Mergansers were swimming in the large pond next to the bike path by the hundreds. Of significance was the report that dozens of dead ducks were found along the shoreline at the south end of the park. Fears of avian flu were circulating, but DNR officials suspect that the large flock of RBME flew into the power lines and several birds hit wires.

Sterling SP, Monroe, Michigan, US
Mar 29, 2024 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Clear, calm, 30F
16 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  4
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  4
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)  150
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  4
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  2
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  4
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  36
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  6
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  6
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  16
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S166345627

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

I drove north along the Turnpike to the Antennae Farm where I saw several Horned Larks and a beautiful male Northern Harrier fly out of the ditch next to the fence line and land in the field to my left. Heat shimmer made photography difficult and it didn't stay long. A female harrier would follow just minutes later.

Antenna Farm, Monroe, Michigan, US
Mar 29, 2024 9:41 AM - 9:51 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Clear, calm 30F
4 species

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  4
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  3     2 fem/juv and 1 ad male
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)  8
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  150

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S166346011

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