These Birding Hotspots are located in the service area of the Thunder Bay Audubon Society - that is Alpena and Presque Isle Counties.
9th Street Bridge & Dam This site is best in winter, when open water is limited locally. It is a congregating point for Mergansers, Shovelers, Teal, Oldsquaw, Bufflehead, Golden-eye, and many varieties of ducks. Drive east on 9th Street to River Street, turn right. Park at LaMarre Park and take path to follow river or walk across 9th Street to get a better view of the dam.
Alpena County Fairgrounds Duck species, Grebe, Swans, Geese, Herons, Egrets, and a variety of Passerines can be found here with their songs audible over the Red-winged Blackbird calls. Home of many Mute Swans. Located on 11th Avenue in the City of Alpena, the Fairgrounds are on the banks of the Thunder Bay River. Best birding sites are at the back of the Fairgrounds along the river.
Alpena Township Nature Preserve This recently established park has a series of hiking trails leading to a sink hole in Lake Huron. The mixed woods harbor a variety of nesting birds, including Black-throated Green Warblers and American Redstarts. Located at the east end of Misery Bay Road, the journey to this site will take you through the LaFarge quarry and cement plant. Ford Avenue turns into Misery Bay Road outside the city limits.
Besser Natural Area This area features many woodland Warblers and shorebirds along Lake Huron. Directions: U.S.23 north of Long Lake, turn east onto Rayburn Hwy. This turns into Grand Lake Road. Watch for Bell Bay Road sign on right. Continue and veer right at the fork.
Fletcher Pond Home of the second largest Opsrey colony in the Midwest. The ideal way to spot birds is by boat. Field trips each year in July to the site are a highlight for birders spotting Loon families, Bald Eagles, Heron species, Canada Geese, and nesting Osprey. Osprey research has been carried on at this site for over 45 years by Sergey Postupalsky in cooperation with the Thunder Bay, Michigan, and National Audubon Societies. Located west of Alpena off of M-32. Turn left (south) on Jack's Landing Road and follow the road to the DNRE boat lunch site.
Isaacsons Bay Shorebirds love this spot! There are several good sites along Misery Bay Road to park and check the bay. Birds of all species occur here. Bald Eagles roost on the point along with Great Black-Backed Gulls and Glaucous gulls. Driving out of Alpena on Second Avenue, head northeast until you reach Ford Avenue and continue through the LaFarge cement plant and you'll come to the bay.
LaFarge Quarry Birding Site Dicksissel, Grasshopper Sparrows, Bobolink & Eastern Meadowlark nest in this area and are easily spotted on fence posts. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Cardinals, Kestrel, Merlin, Red-tailed Hawk, and Rough-legged Hawks may be seen on the banks around the quarry. Driving out of Alpena on Second Avenue, head northeast until you reach Ford Avenue and continue through the LaFarge cement plant. Do not climb the fence of the quarry and watch for heavy truck traffic.
Lake Besser In the spring and fall, waterfowl of many species visit here. Ring-necked ducks land here in the hundreds. At the intersection of US23 and Johnson Street, follow Johnson Street east for two blocks. Besser Worldwide Corporate Headquarters will be on the north side of the road, and a flooding of the Thunder Bay River (caused by the Ninth Street Dam) created a quiet lake on the other side.
Min-Hunt Nature Preserve of the Thunder Bay Audubon Society This is a mature woods and old apple orchard with a nice hiking trail through it. Warblers and woodland species abound. Located at the north end of Long Lake in Presque Isle County, this preserve is owned by the Thunder Bay Audubon Society. Take US23 north approximately 12 miles out of Alpena and turn west (left) on Shubert Highway. Go 1.5 miles. A sign on the north side of the road marks the preserve.
Nature Conservancy & Squaw Bay Herons, Belted Kingfisher, and Bald Eagles are found along this overflow. The Eagles perch in the large pine trees at the south end of the bay. Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starling flocks, and migrating Warbler species are also numerous. Take US23 South from Alpena. On the west side of the road there is a large parcel of drainage ditch just opposite the 45th Parallel sign owned by the Nature Conservancy. The east side of the road is Squaw Bay and owned by the State of Michigan. However, it is a long walk across marsh requiring boots. Be careful not to stray on to the private property nearby.
Partridge Point Great Horned, Barred and Short-eared Owls, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Vireos, Nuthatch, Wrens, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Warblers, Sparrows, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbead, Blue Jays, American Crow, Common Ravens, Marsh Hawk, Northern Harrier, Black Terns, Marsh Wrens, Sora and Viginia Rails, migrating Tundra Swans, Merlin and Peregrine Falcons, Sandhill Crane, American Woodcock, Belted Kingfisher and Bobolink can all be found in this area during the spring and fall migrations. Take US23 South from Alpena to Patridge Point Road. Most of the Point is privately owned except for a 53 acre DNR access site. There are two two-tracks that extend off of South Partridge Point Road. The west trail is generally drivable with a high-profile vehicle, as there are many puddles on the roadway. The east track shouldn't be attempted, except with a four-whell drive vehicle. The lush land vegetation is loaded with poison ivy, so be forewarned!
Thompson's Harbor State Park A June early morning walk is an auditory challenge to the visiting birdwatcher! Hunting is allowed in season, so dress appropriately if you are here during October and November. Northern Parulas uniquely nest here. Take US23 about 24 miles north of Alpena and turn onto the marked access road to the park. This entrance requires a motor vehicle permit. Or go half a mile further on US23 and turn right to park at the Trailhead to hike in.
Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary The Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary is the area of the Thunder Bay River located between the Bagley Street Bridge and Chisholm Street. It includes Duck Park, Island Park, Cow Island. This marshy area and slow-moving river provide nesting habitat for many marsh birds: Belted Kingfisher, Ducks, Swans, Geese and many waterfowl species. View the Butterfly Garden and cross over the bridge. Follow the trails and you may see: American Redstart, Warblers, Vireos and others listed in a brochure you may pick up at the entrance. A major replanting of native grasses and plants has been undertaken to try and stop erosion of the sand dunes and fishing platforms allow for good sightings for birds. Duck and Island Park can be accessed off of Long Rapids Road near the intersection of US23. A canoe or kayak launch site is located here also.