I had some time before work today so I headed to Lk St. Clair Metropark at dawn… I was scoping the North Marsh and looking at a Pintail, Green-winged Teals, Northern Shoveler and Wood Ducks when all of a sudden 4 Long-billed Dowitchers(227) came in for a landing…. I watched them for a while and they got spooked by something and took off… All of a sudden a Merlin came racing out of the Marsh and flew right over my head, heading toward the main parking lot… its winter hangout. I could not relocate the Dowitchers right away and I wanted to drive over to the DNR pointe, so I left… Nothing to note at the pointe, but I texted Kevin and told him about the Dowitchers… He came out to the park so he could find them also. I waited and we gathered our equipment and headed down the fisherman’s trail on the side of the marsh so that we could get a deeper look into the mud flats with our scope…. We set up our scopes and within just a minute or two we found one Long-billed Dowitcher… We looked at it for a minute until something spooked the whole marsh and all the shorebirds in the marsh, including Killdeers and a few Greater Yellowlegs, took off for the skies… Yep, a Northern Harrier came skimming over the long grass of the marsh and began what would be a show for about an hour….
While we were viewing the multiple Duck species and trying to relocate the Dowitchers, we heard a high peeping note and looked up as a flock of Black-bellied Plovers came over our heads… Wait, one of them did not have a black arm pit…. yep, sure enough there was an American Golden Plover mixed in with the bunch…. They would not land and just kept circling…. I managed a couple of pics and boom they were gone…
In addition to the Northern Harrier (there were two), we saw Sharp-shinned Hawks, Coopers Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and a couple of Turkey Vultures… The Crows on the little island in the marsh attacked every Bird of Prey that came near it…. it was comical to watch…. most of the hawks turned and gave chase at the crows…..
One large flock of Chimney Swifts that we estimated at 50 to 60 birds hovered over the marsh…. White-crowned Sparrow and Winter Wren were along the trail….