Birding Lake St. Clair

Lk St. Clair is a very under birded lake. This year alone many species that were considered very rare for Macomb County have been found on the lake. So the question is, is this an unusual year or are there not enough birders spending the time scoping the lake during the year? Its a good question that Tom Hince and I were discussing yesterday. So far in 2014 the rare or uncommon birds that have been seen in the lake are:

  • Black Scoter
  • Surf Scoter
  • White-winged Scoter
  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Red Phalorope
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • California Gull
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Little Gull
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • White Pelican

I am sure I am missing a bird or two for this list. There are a few good places to Scope the lake.

  • Ruedisale Park. This is off M29 near New Baltimore. Turn onto Ruedisale street and there is a park at the dead end. This is the borderline for Macomb County. The bay to the left of the grassy area in the lake is St. Clair County.
  • Walter and Mary Burke Park. This is at the end of Washington St in New Baltimore. There is a pier at this location. A great place for gulls.
  • Brandenburg Park. (currently closed for construction) Along Jefferson before 23 mi rd. A great pier to walk out on and look for Ducks and Gulls. This is a good Gull roosting spot once the ice begins to freeze.
  • DNR Boat Launch. This is at the end of South River Rd. There is a walking trail that leads out to the point. Its difficult in winter when the snow comes, but if you get out there, it may be the only open water on Lk St. Clair and great views can be had of Waterfowl, Snowy Owls and Rough-legged Hawks.
  • Huron Point and beach at Lk St. Clair Metropark. This is another great spot. Once the winter season is upon us, thousands of Waterfowl can be seen from the shore as well as gulls. Purple Sandpiper has been seen in previous years when the conditions are right along the broken concrete around the edge of the pointe..
  • Day Sail area and Pointe Rosa Marsh. Another great spot for scoping the lake.

For those birders who do not have a scope, I would invest in one. I saw a Little Gull yesterday at Walter and Mary Burke park that I could not have seen without a scope. Same goes for the Parasitic Jaeger from last week.

All these areas can be found on Ebird on the Hotspots map as well as recent sightings. If you are not using Ebird to explore recent sightings, you are missing out… An incredible tool for seeing what is out in the lake right now.

 

A Sparrow Kind of a Day

This evening I zoomed around to Lk St. Clair Metropark and then to Wetzel State Park…. There were a ton of sparrows every where I went.. A huge influx of White-throated Sparrows and White-crowned were at LSCMP as well as a good number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.. I had a couple of Sharp-shinned Hawks there as well, a Magnolia and Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Blue-headed Vireo.. I found a couple of Winter Wrens near the Owl bucket and out in Pointe Rosa Marsh there were three Rusty Blackbirds. One was banded earlier in the day.  At Wetzel I found a flock of Pine Siskins on the corner of 27mi and Werderman Rd down low in the fields feeding on seeds and found numerous Swamp, Field and Song Sparrows… There also was a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers numbering about 15 near the parking lot off of 27 mi Rd…

(by the way, I am so happy that I got my Sigma Lens calibrated… finally shooting sharper)

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Parasitic Jaeger and a Macomb County Milestone

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from Tom Hince as I was getting off of work. He had found a Parasitic Jaeger, a dark juvenile,  sitting in the water on Lake St. Clair at Ruedisale park near New Baltimore. I headed that way and called Tom Heatley. Tom was feeling under the weather, but nothing was gonna keep him from seeing this bird. This was a very important bird for Tom Heatley. His 300th lifetime Macomb County bird. A wonderful achievement! Tom got there and was able to view it through Tom Hince scope. I was very happy for Tom. I have known him 20+ years and he is one of Macomb County premier birders. He has always been willing to stop on the trail and help those who are just learning or who are having an ID issue.He has led countless bird walks over the years and captained many birding events.  He is a member of the  Macomb Audubon Society. This is the third new county bird this year for Tom and someone with his experience, that’s hard to come by. We were also joined this day by Kevin Rysiewski, David Boon and Kathi Hince. It was getting late and the Parasitic Jaeger, who was just content to float on the water, was drifting toward downtown New Baltimore. I headed over to the park at Front St and Washington and went out onto the pier where I was able to relocate the bird. I was soon joined by Brian Mcgee, Brandon Aho and Eric Domurat who were all able to view the bird as it continued float amongst all the gulls..

Another great bird seen in the county this year. Many thanks go out to Tom Hince for finding this awesome bird and contacting the “macomb network”. I have included some digiscoped images from Tom of this bird. It never came within binocular range and the digiscoped images are not the best as the Jaeger bobbed up and down in the waves.. but its still obvious by looking at this bird that it is a Jaeger. We also were able to view the white patches in its wings during short flights and when extending the wings while in the water.

these photos have been lightened up to try and show some detail. color may not be 100% accurate to what we viewed thru the scope.

Tom Heatley looking very happy after seeing his 300th bird species lifetime in Macomb County

Tom Heatley looking very happy after seeing his 300th bird species lifetime in Macomb County

Tom Heatley getting a first look at the Parasitic Jaeger

Tom Heatley getting a first look at the Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaeger feeding on dead gull

Parasitic Jaeger feeding on dead gull

Parasitic Jaeger looking into the scope

Parasitic Jaeger looking into the scope

Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaeger

Rainy day birding

I decided after work to do some driving around and see what I could see in between rain storms… Stoney Creek Metropark still has a good number of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins at the beginning of the Eastlake trail… I also had Golden-crowned Kinglets and a nice Eastern Towhee at the same spot… On Inwood Rd there were 10 Sandhill Cranes in the field with a large flock of Canada Geese. At Wolcott Mills there were many Kinglets moving thru… Ended my day at Mt. Vernon picnic area at Stoney where a Bald Eagle was perched on a dead tree on the island and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was foraging along the Shore…

Bald Eagle on the Island... this is a major crop job as it was a long ways off

Bald Eagle on the Island… this is a major crop job as it was a long ways off

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Big Sit 2014

Yesterday I participated in the 2014 Big Sit with the Metro Munchers at Lk St. Clair Metropark… It was a good time and we had a total of 69 species, which broke the previous record of 61. Of course it wouldn’t be the Big Sit without team captain Tom Heatley making Brats! I just got my lens back from Sigma and this was the first opportunity I had to test it out…

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Sunset at LK St Clair Metropark

Sunset at LK St Clair Metropark

Sunset at LK St Clair Metropark

Sunset at LK St Clair Metropark