Club members have found these Benzie-area spots especially good for birding:
- Platte River Point: Located within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the mouth of the Platte River, Platte Point is an excellent spot for observing waterfowl. The prime months for observing migrating ducks are April, October and November, but huge concentrations of waterfowl are often found here throughout the winter. In the summer the beach serves as a nesting area for the endangered Piping Plover and thus is designated by National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Take Lake Michigan Road from M-22 near its crossing of the Platte River to its end at the parking lot by Lake Michigan. (For a map of the area see Site Map.)
- Point Betsie: Just down the coast from Platte Point, Point Betsie has the most photographed lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It is also an ideal spot for seeing waterfowl. Up to 350 Common Loons per hour have been seen passing Point Betsie, as well as many Long-tailed Ducks and scoters. In the winter look for Bald Eagles and possibly Snowy Owls. Take Pt. Betsie Road off of M-22.
- Elberta Marsh and Betsie Bay: The Benzie Audubon David Harrison Memorial Lookout and the adjacent Betsie Valley Trail provide superb vantage points for checking out the Betsie River delta and marsh area. In addition to migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, various wading birds and passerines are found here, including Sandhill Cranes, American Bitterns, Sedge Wrens and Willow Flycatchers. Park at the Betsie Valley Trailhead off of M-22 near Elberta or by the big anchor across the road.
- Peterson Road: Many woodland species can be found along this road from its beginning at M-22 to its end at Lake Michigan. In the spring look (and listen) for Hermit Thrushes and displaying Common Nighthawks. Nesting warblers include the beautiful Blackburnian, as well as Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers. Olive-sided Flycatchers nest nearby. Peterson Road begins where Deadstream Road ends.
- Otter Creek: The area along M-22 and Esch Road offers a fine selection of field birds, including Upland Sandpipers. The wooded area near the lake and along Otter Creek is great for spring warblers. Check out the creek by canoe or kayak and see everything from rails to raptors. Off of M-22, in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
- Grass Lake Flooding: For canoeists and kayakers this flooded portion of the upper Betsie River is a wonderful place to bird in the month of May. Found here are eagles, osprey, rails, grebes and herons. Passerines such as Yellow-throated Vireos seem to prefer areas such as this, inland from Lake Michigan. Take Reynolds Road south from US-31 and follow the signs (see the map showing Grass and Twin Lakes).
- Wallin Road and Long Road: Not far from Grass Lake, this area boasts nesting Blue-winged, Golden-winged and Mourning Warblers. Cuckoos, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Ruffed Grouse may also be found. Take Wallin Road east off of Thompsonville Road.
- Weldon Township Day Use Park: Located on Wolf Road and the Betsie River near Thompsonville (see photo), this park offers a bird watching trail along with canoe and kayak landing, public restrooms and free parking and access. It is a good place to look for warblers and other spring migrants
Arcadia Marsh and Lake: Located in Manistee County just a couple of miles south of the Benzie County border, this area harbors many migrating waterfowl and shorebirds (among other birds) in both spring and fall. Viewing is easy from M-22 just south of downtown Arcadia.
- Sleeping Bear Birding Trail: Still in the making, this Trail will cover all 123 miles of M-22, a desgnated Michigan Heritage Route. The Trail will run from Manistee on the south end to Traverse City on the north and will include such birding spots within the Benzie area as Point Betsie and Platte Point. Check the Trail website for further information as it becomes available.
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