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It's a Whimbrel!

So far the best story for a bird in May happened yesterday, 5/13. Levi Wilson went out to the state park to see if he could find an Olive-sided Flycatcher in the south trails south of the dam. He thought he'd first look at the beach, and it's a good thing he did. There he spotted 7 Willets and 1 WHIMBREL!!! He immediately texted a local birding group chat reporting what he had found. Dave Dister was the first to respond saying "I'm on my way". I can only imagine the excitement that Dave was feeling as this would be his 294th species in Mason County... if he sees it. This bird has avoided him for 16 years and now he finally has the chance to see it. Brian Brosky, March Wolch, Linda and Chuck Scribner (hour drive), Ben Wilson, and myself Sawyer Dawe all rush to the state park upon hearing the news. This beach is often used by the public for recreational walking with and without dogs. We were all worried the birds would eventually get spooked by a dog, a person, or a boat and be gone forever. BUT, thankfully the birds cooperated and stayed there, and we all got to enjoy them while standing in awe taking pictures and adding them to our lists. This was a huge sighting for all of us, but especially Dave, as he is now 1 bird closer to the elusive 300 species for a county.

The Whimbrel is special to Michigan West Siders. This is only the 7th record of this species in Mason County. They are known to migrate up the East side of the state of Michigan (Detroit area, Saginaw Bay, Tawas, and Eastern UP), but are considered Rare on this side of the state and almost the entire country. They breed in the Arctic circle and then in the fall will make their way back down to where they winter. They have a very wide wintering range. They can be seen along the southern coasts (Atlantic and Pacific) of the US and they even make their way to southern South America. Like a lot of other shorebirds, these are big travelers and they do their business in a hurry. Their diet consists mostly of bugs, worms, crustaceans, and other little critters found in muddy areas near the waters edge, but in breeding season, in the Arctic Tundra, they will also eat berries such as cranberries and crowberries.

Pictures taken by myself, Sawyer Dawe.

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