Friday, June 18, 2010

Birding the Thumb

Karl Overman and I birded the Thumb yesterday and we saw quite a few good breeding birds. We started off with stopping by the lakeside cemetery in Port Huron where a pair of Merlins has nested. We saw and heard the male Merlin before we went on. I think this might be the first time Merlins have nested in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. After a quick stop for Pine Warblers in Southern Sanilac County we continued to Minden SGA in northern Sanilac County. On the way we made several stops to check the fields. Bobolink numbers were quite good, I think there were almost as many Bobolinks as Eastern Meadowlarks. Five Brown Thrashers (one group of three and two other single birds) seemed a bit on the high side as well. Minden SGA was quite interesting, I had never seen anything like it before. Almost the whole area is part of a bog (see above picture). Because of this species that are typically found further north can be found here. Brewers Blackbirds were plentiful and I managed a few poor shots of them.
There were also several Lincoln's Sparrows.
For both of the above birds while they are quite common in and around Minden SGA, they are completely absent as breeders from the rest of the SELP. We also found a few other birds that are tough to find breeding in southeast Michigan such as Clay-colored Sparrow and Alder Flycatcher. We also found a Pink-edged Sulphur in the bog, it was a lifer for both of us. To see Karl's pictures of it click here. At the woods at the edge of the bog we heard a singing Mourning Warbler and I was finally able to see it after walking through a bunch of raspberries and getting all scratched up. Our next stop was in Huron county at Wagner County Park. We heard several more Mourning Warblers and there were lots of Northern Waterthrushes.
We were also able to find a singing Black-and-white Warbler and a singing Winter Wren south of the trail. It was upsetting to see all of the cut down trees in the park. It literally looked like they decided the forest was too thick and went through cutting every other tree down. Apparently they did this to the whole park, even when we drove a back road at the edge of the park we found trees that had been cut down. It appears that this has driven the breeding Canada Warblers out of the park. There were a few times when we thought we might hear one in the distance but we weren't sure, at any rate, the Canada warbler population has been greatly reduced. After this we headed for the town of Bad Axe and the airport there to look for Upland Sandpipers. As we were scanning the mowed grass along the runways in the hope that an Upland Sandpiper would come out of the tall grass, Karl thought he heard one on the other side of the road. We looked across the road and there, on top of a telephone poll at the edge of a cornfield, was an Upland Sandpiper (lifer #315)!
I had heard they perched on fence posts but never expected to see one thirty feet in the air on a telephone poll. After wandering around on back roads for a while, we headed down to Port Huron SGA in St. Clair County. Since it was the middle of the afternoon it was pretty quiet but we did find an Acadian Flycatcher. I was able to get a nice photo of a Viceroy there.
We ended the day with 88 species, ten species of warblers and all 8 breeding flycatchers. It was one of the best days I have had in Michigan in June and definitely the highest species total I have had in June in southeastern Michigan.

1 comment:

  1. Hey James,
    I was really impressed with your Thumb trip. Been meaning to do that for some time myself.
    Great blog site by the way.
    Hope to catch up with you sometime.
    Best wishes
    Ed Lewandowski