Long Memorial Day weekend - Northern LP and Eastern UP

Scott Baron brnpelican at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 3 15:16:45 EDT 2005

Hello, birders. Sorry for the late posting.  I got back home on Wednesday night and I've been super busy since.  I had a fun time birding No. Michigan for 5 days this week.  I had never been to Michigan before.  I missed quite a few birds but got some neat ones, too.  The rarities, according to the bar graphs in the ABA guide to Michigan: 
AM. BITTERN, Houghton Lake WRA, Roscommon Co., 1
                      Munuscong Bay SWMA, Chippewa Co., 3 (I only birded Gray Rd. northeast past Riverside Rd.  No time to go out to the marsh.)
GREAT EGRET, Mackinac Co., June 1. Flying north along the east shore just outside of the northern St. Ignace city line around 6am. 
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, Whitefish Point, Chippewa Co., May 30. At the tip, previously reported on the Mich-chat listserv. This bird was called a second summer bird.  Counters at the point got digital photos through a scope of this bird.
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER, Hiawatha NF, Chippewa Co.  A great, long look at a beautiful male pecking away at a dead Jack Pine tree 25 feet away.  I must have watched this bird for about 15 minutes.  It fed in the bottom half of the tree, always on the trunk.  Occaisonally it called.  Lots of bark was being falling off the tree from the woodpecker's work.  After several minutes, he went to another branch and, facing out, spread his wings slightly while tilting his head.  I think he was sunning himself after all the hard work of excavating.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of this bird but it was already mid-morning and I wanted to cover much more ground.  This guy was in the woods off of Forest Road 3132, 2.8 mi. E of FR 3139.  He was on the north side of the road, maybe about 100 ft. in.
BREWER'S BLACKBIRD, Munuscong Bay SWMA, Chippewa Co.  I don't have my notes with me but I saw either 5 or 6 birds at the Gray Rd./Riverside Dr. intersection (S end of Gray Rd., just E of Stirlingville.)  I didn't see any Brewer's in the Kirtland's Warbler areas of the LP.
Other cool birds: Bald Eagle, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Virginia Rail, Sandhill Crane (I love these birds, so primitive to me, and great call), Upland Sandpiper (a pair at the entrance to Raco Airfield and others at Munuscong Bay, Common Tern, Red-headed Woodpecker (No. Higgins Lake SP), Winter Wren, both kinglets, Swainson's Thrush, Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Cape May, Kirtland's (fascinating bird, I went on the tour from Grayling to see it first, then used the ABA guide to find another population, then found likely habitat just inside the Alcona Co. line near Oscoda Co. along the Jack Pine tour that held a few singing birds), Mourning Warblers, Clay-colored (I really wanted this one and I finally saw and heard one on my last morning in Mich. at the beginning of entrance rd. to Tuttle Marsh, never found Clay-colored in Kirtlands' areas), Vesper, Savannah, Lincoln's (heard only, darn) Sparrows, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin.
Whitefish Point was very cool, windy w/ some precip.  Not much activity birdwise, but it was neat to see and I got to chat with some nice birders at the point.  I highly recommend a visit to Munuscong Bay and Houghton Lake SRA.  Even though I didn't find my hoped for LeConte's sparrows at the former and Yellow Rail at the latter, I loved both places and each was very birdy.  By the way, a man who was surveying for frogs and toads at Houghton Lake SRA told me that he had heard Yellow Rail there recently, more likely in early morning maybe a couple hundred feet down the boardwalk.
Misses: other boreal birds like B. Chickadee, Gray Jay, etc.  No LeConte's at MB, no S.t. Grouse at Raco Airfield but I didn't get there until sunrise so I guess I was too late.  No Yellow Rail as I previously mentioned.
Also other wildlife like Ermine (Whitefish Point, great look at this cute, curious animal), various butterfly species, and a large wild dog running across the road in the Hiawatha NF that I swear could have been a Wolf rather than a Coyote.
Thanks to all the nice people that I met.  The Midwest is so friendly.  And the birding was fun with 3 lifers.
Scott Baron
Fairfax, Va.

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