A spring fling to hear the birds sing at Little Sand Bay

Small lagoon in the sand at Little Sand Bay - Neil Howk photo

June 17, 2024

There’s always something to see, hear and experience at Little Sand Bay in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Friends board member Neil Howk takes us along on a recent nature walk.
I went to Little Sand Bay to do some birdwatching on this fine June morning. I donned my bug shirt and walked around the parking lot, out to the end of the road, into the woods, through the Hokenson Fishery, along the beach, past the marina, around the visitor center and TWILITE exhibit, past the Town of Russell boat launch, through the dunes, across the outlet from the lagoon, and back along the beach to the parking lot.
Neil Howk in bug shirt

Neil Howk ready to battle the bugs

Hokenson Fishery dock - Neil Howk photo

Hokenson Fishery dock

Twilite on display - Neil Howk photo

Fishing tug Twilite on display

Little Sand Bay sign and dock - Neil Howk photo

Little Sand Bay harbor

Now that the trees are fully leafed out, it is trickier to do bird “watching”, because they are hard to see. But, as always, the scenery was lovely. Spring wildflowers like wild lily of the valley, yellow clintonia, starflower, wild rose, and even a few pink ladyslipper orchids were in full bloom. (Click to enlarge photos by Neil Howk.)

Pink wild rose flowers line the Little Sand Bay lagoon - Neil Howk photo
Footprints on the beach - Neil Howk photo
A carpet of small yellow clintonia (blue bead lily) flowers - Neil Howk photo
Pink Ladyslipper - Neil Howk photo
The campground was not busy on a weekday morning in early June, but a group of kayakers was preparing to launch on a trip to Sand Island.
Kayaks on the lawn outside the Visitor Center - Neil Howk photo
The mosquitos were bad in the woods, but not in the open and I had the beach to myself. Even though I only saw a few robins, two common mergansers and a herring gull, I heard 24 species including 12 species of warblers.
Little Sand Bay lagoon empties into the bay - Neil Howk photo
There were ovenbirds, American redstarts, northern parulas, nashville warblers, common yellowthroats, yellow warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, black and white warblers, blackburnian warblers, a magnolia warbler, pine warblers, and black-throated green warblers.
The beautiful morning chorus made the trip more than worthwhile.
Neil Howk began working as a park ranger/interpreter for the National Park Service in 1978. He worked at a number of different parks over the years and served as the assistant chief of interpretation at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore from 1993-2016. He now serves as a board member of Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Friends of the Apostle Islands Board Member Neil Howk

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