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Birding Alger County: Hotspots near Munising & Pictured Rocks

 

(A) Chatham Lagoons & Research Center ★

Chatham Sewage Lagoons consists of two large ponds, which host small flocks of waterfowl in October and sandpipers in May. Bird sightings reported at Chatham Sewage Lagoons in recent years include Solitary Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, and Dunlin.

The GPS points below lead to the sewage lagoons. To reach the research area (46.3409, -86.9261), continue driving south for a short distance, then turn right (west) onto University Drive, where several large, grassy fields await. During the summer months, Horned Larks and Field Sparrows live close to the research center.

Directions: Click here

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(B) Au Train Lake Campground ★★

Located 10 miles west of Munising, the Au Train Lake Campground provides visitors with a pleasant place to stay while enjoying the natural beauty of Au Train Lake. The 830-acre lake is a popular destination for kayakers and canoeists. Be sure to arrive early in the morning—motor boats are frequently present during the warm months. On the southeast side of the lake, there is a wildlife viewing platform overlooking Buck Bay. The structure is a good place from which to search for sandpipers, gulls, and other shorebirds. A short distance north, the Au Train River flows into Lake Superior, creating an excellent spot to look for ducks and gulls during the wintertime.

Songbird Trail is a popular destination for birders who are searching for warblers. Some of the species that may be seen along the trail are Magnolia, Black-and-white, Connecticut, Nashville, Wilson’s, and Bay-breasted Warblers.

Website: goo.gl/lFy6VP | Map: Click here
Hours: The campground is open from May 15 to September 30.
Fees: Campsites costs $16 a night.
Directions: Click here

(C) Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore ★★

Showcasing Michigan’s most recognizable scenery, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an essential stop for anybody visiting the Upper Peninsula. The area does not have that many birding hotspots, but the beautiful vistas easily make up for it. Most boat tours to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore leave from the town of Munising on the edge of South Bay. The shoreline of the bay is a good place to look for scoters and other water birds.

The first place visitors should stop when arriving at Pictured Rocks is the Interagency Visitor Center. The building has a wealth of information on different recreational activities available in the area, local history, and Hiawatha National Forest. There is also an updated schedule present detailing when park rangers will be presenting interpretive activities.

Once inside the park, check the cliffs for nesting Peregrine Falcons. Pictured Rocks is one of the best places to find these raptors, which rarely nest in Michigan. Cliff Swallows are another local specialty that can easily be seen at Pictured Rocks. Before leaving the park, be sure to walk the Sand Point Marsh Trail. The short boardwalk can be productive for finding shorebirds, herons, bitterns, and ducks.

Website: nps.gov/piro | Map: Click here
Phone: (906) 387-3700
Hours: The Interagency Visitor Center is open year round, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The visitor center is closed Sundays and federal holidays.
Directions: Click here

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(D) Twelvemile Beach Campgrounds ★★

Both Twelvemile Beach Campground & Hurricane River Campground provide access to Twelvemile Beach, a lengthy stretch of sand reaching from Au Sable Point to Beaver Creek. The North Country Trail passes near the campgrounds, traversing a stand of White Birch while following a section of Lake Superior’s shoreline famously known as the “Shipwreck Coast”. Bald Eagles and Common Ravens can regularly be seen flying overhead.

After visitors finish searching the beach for birds, they may enjoy walking on a 2-mile long interpretive trail at Twelvemile Beach Campground. Twelvemile Beach Campground is 3 miles west from Hurricane River Campground on Co Road 58. Both campgrounds are a part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Directions: Click here