Summer is for relaxing, how about for birders? It seems to be so if you look at the steep decline in eBird reports in June and July compared to May. Summer shouldn’t be all down time for birding as there are a lot of discoveries out there even without the excitement of peak migration.
Speaking of migration, the middle of summer is often the best time in Michigan to see large shorebirds passing through like this Avocet photographed by Linda Scribner along the birding trail at the Platte River Outlet, an excellent place to happen upon Godwits, Willits, and Avocets if luck is with you. The long shoreline of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay are all worth a look this season.
On the smaller side of birding one big advantage of summer is that you can use breeding habitat to find good birds. I’ve found the rare Henslow’s Sparrow in the grasslands of the Arcadia Dunes Preserve in Manistee county at this time of year. Recently a Mourning Warbler sang for me in a new spot that looked “just right”, a very thick second growth forest along a stream in the Pere Marquette State Forest. Close by I was able to call up a Black-throated Blue Warbler in what appeared to me to be a great place, a wooded hillside with lush undergrowth and mature Beech, Maple and Hemlock.
Late spring and early summer is the time to find Hooded Warblers in the Arcadia Dunes Preserve west of M-22 and Marsh Wrens, American and Least Bitterns at Arcadia Marsh. I also see from eBird that our Prairie Warblers are still singing at Good Harbor Bay in Leelanau County.
So have a great summer, go swimming at our beautiful beaches, hiking some of the best trails in the mid-west and kayaking the wildest stretches of river in the Lower Penninsula, just don’t forget the binoculars!