On Friday June 6 I found myself in the eastern upper peninsula near Paradise when I received a phone call that a homeowner in Grand Marais had a bird which he thought was possibly a Northern Wheatear. Given the paucity of spring Wheatear records, and the possibilities for confusion of Mockingbirds, Pipits, and Loggerhead Shrikes, etc., I felt it was a real longshot. However, within 2 hours several birders had confirmed the improbable- it was for real!
So, I immediately drove straight to Grand Marais and was treated to the following:
True to form, this bird was not seen the following day, like most Michigan Wheatears, making this one of the state lister's most frustrating species to chase. I feel extremely lucky to have been in the area when it showed up as I certainly would not have seen it otherwise. Michigan has 9 previous records of this species, all in Aug-Oct, so this is a first spring Michigan record! One must imagine that this represents one of very few spring records regionally as well.
Many thanks to Pat McConeghy, the homeowner who not only found and successfully identified this amazing rarity and then kindly allowed more than 18 people to visit his property during most of his daylight hours. That meant a LOT to a lot of birders!