Stonington Penninsula, Delta Co.(long)
tanager at manistee.com
Mon Aug 13 17:49:11 EDT 2007
It had been longer than I thought since I was last able to go birding in Delta Co., 1999 with Doug Mcwhirter. The county list had sat at 57 since then so I was looking foreward to spending Saturday and Sunday morning there this weekend, spend some time with my wife and boys and get 100 on the Delta list.
I was fortunate to stay with the family at my brother-in-laws place on Sand Bay about 11 miles south of US-2 on the east side of the penninsula. Their cottage is on a somewhat isolated beach with six or seven other places that cluster on one of the only sandy beaches on the penninsula. Most of the other areas are rocky or wetland costline. The weather was sunny and warm but too breezy for good passerine birding so I concentrated on shorebirding .
There was a small stream and a marshy pool along the beach just up from the cottage with 5-6 probing Lesser Yellowlegs, a Semipalmated Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper later joined by 3 Spotted Sandpipers. I also enjoyed the constant presence of several Common Terns, something I don't often see unfortunately in Manistee and Benzie counties.
On Saturday afternoon I dropped my son off so he could do the 14 mile run back to the cottage and I birded Penninsula Point at the end of the penninsula. The farmland ends about a mile north of the point and a cedar/birch second growth forest covers the point up to the lighthouse which is surronded by about an acre of mowed lawn and parking lot. There are very extensive wetlands around the point, mostly like an alvar with sedges and grasses growing where there is no rock. A rocky shoal about 1/2 mile off the point was covered with RB, H gulls and Cormorants along with a few Bonaparte's Gulls and about 20 Common Terns.
There were Greater Yellowlegs in every pool with Lesser Yellowlegs at the margins and Killdeer on the rocks and mudflats. The only other species of shorebird was a Black-bellied Plover.
I returned to the Penninsula Park early the next morning. This time as well as in the previous afternoon there was no one around, it felt like being at my own private Tawas Point. Out in the wetlands surronding the point were the same groups of Greater Yellowlegs and Lessers joined now by a few Least Sandpipers. Where were the Bairds and Semipalmateds? Each time I saw a Greater Yellowlegs at a distance it looked possible to be a Willet or Whimbrel or some other trophy shorebird but no such luck. The Black-bellied Plover was still there this time joined by another in poorer plummage.
It was still very windy and hot for the morning but I decided to check out the forest at the tip for migrants as some warblers were flying out over the lighthouse and returning to the trees. There was an old water hand pump just in the woods near the road that was leaking water and had a pool at it's base attracting birds. In the nearby thicket were several White-throated Sparrows, a pair of American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroat, Tennessee Warbler, Black and White Warbler, and a Mourning Warbler that sang. Nearby were large flocks of Cedar Waxwings, a Brown Thrasher, Indigo Buntings and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
I checked around a bit more but my hopes for a Tropical Kingbird were dashed as a Sharp-shinned hawk cruised in and scattered the birds. They remained quiet and the heat made it seem more reasonable to head back to the beach and hope for an errant Frigatebird. Ended the weekend at 92 species for the county, another reason to return and enjoy this promising spot.
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