A varied array of breeding species can be found at Lake St. Clair Metropark that either nest in the park or the surrounding area. Those featured here include:
- Virginia Rail
- Least Bittern
- Great Egret
- Great Blue Heron
- Green Heron
- Spotted Sandpiper
- Yellow Warbler
- Wood Duck
A medium-sized rail -- in between the Sora [much smaller] and the Clapper Rail [much larger] -- this secretive rail is rarely seen.
Plumaged in brown, black and grey, the color scheme is decidedly cryptic; however, the orange bill and the white chin and grey cheeks are quite distinctive.
Unlike Virginia's Warbler, Virginia Rail isn't named after anyone -- it is named for geography (much like the Carolina Wren) although it isn't restricted to the state of Virginia. In fact, this rail has a huge range that covers much of North America while in winter, it moves South to Central America and the Southern US.
Long-toed, short-tailed and long billed, Virgina Rail prefers digging for grubs in the mud; in fact, its scientific name rallus limicola means "mud-dweller" rail.
The expression "thin as a rail" is erroneously thought to refer to being as slender as a bird of the rail family (rallus). However, the expression refers to a "rail" as a "narrow bar" as in the rail of a fence or a rake.
Apart from Killdeer, the only other breeding shorebird found here is the Spotted Sandpiper:
Seeing this sandpiper wintering in Florida, one would be forgiven for calling it the "spotless sandpiper"; however, in breeding plumage, there are spots a-plenty.
This is a polyandrous species and common across the entire US.
On the heron front, Great Blue Heron and Great Egret are widespread:
As are Green Heron; but not as commonly seen:
The big "miss" was the failure to photograph Least Bittern; all I could manage was a faint glimpse through the reeds:
A yellow warbler, was much more cooperative:
With regard to waterfowl, wood duck breed at this park but are too wary to give good looks:
This female flew in and quickly hid herself:
While a female red-breasted merganser was less skittish:
All in all, a satisfactory excursion to a suburban park that is overrun by hordes of recreationists on weekends but still manages to provide adequate habitat for some choice breeding species.