Monthly Archives: October 2015

First Long-eared Owl of the season

The night started off with a bang with two owls in the net on the first net check. One Northern Saw-whet Owl (a repeat bird we had banded a couple of weeks ago) and our very first Long-eared Owl of the season. There was zero wind at dusk, so with that in mind and the two owls on the first net check, I was gearing up for a big night.  It wouldn’t have been the first time the forecast was wrong, right? Well, not so. At about 2100 hours, the winds came in like a lion from the west. I kept the nets open and caught two more saw-whets before having to close up at 0100 hours.

I’m expecting a killer movement tonight with light (FINALLY!!!) northwest winds predicted.
NSWO: 183

Long-eared Owl, 21 October2015. Photo by Selena Creed

Long-eared Owl, 21 October2015. Photo by Selena Creed

East winds AND saw-whets

The night started off clear with light winds from the east. Between 2000 hours and 0030 hours, eight new saw-whets were captured and banded. I was pleased to see a small movement of birds before the winds picked up. By midnight, the winds had increased to 12 mph, which pretty much shut the movement down. No other owls were captured between 0030 hours and dawn, which made for long stretch. Still, not a bad night considering the east winds, eh?

Total NSWO count: 181 and counting.

I’m hoping for a few birds tonight with the predicted northwest winds ahead of us. It’s supposed to be rather windy (15-20) with gusts as high as 30 mph, but, as usual, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Red-tailed Hawks on the move

There was a good movement of Red-tailed Hawks along the north shore of Lake Michigan on October 20. While birding at Pt. Labarbe in the late morning a loose kettle of a dozen Red-tails was seen. Traveling west on US-2 , many more Red-tails were noted , generally drifting east. Best observation sites were the bluffs at the two picnic areas on US-2. At least 90 Red-tails were observed in about 45 minutes. Other migrating raptors seen were several Bald Eagles and a few Sharp-shinned Hawks.
submitted by Steve Baker

A quiet morning for waterbirds-October 20

A slow morning for waterbirds at McGulpin Point. Moderate NE winds did not push many birds and it seems that any wind from the east is not very productive for migration. Just an observation. Two Snow Buntings perched on the big rock was a highlight of the day.

Long-tailed Duck-14
Unidentified Duck-45
WW Scoter-2
Horned Grebe-1
Canada Goose-4
Common Loon-2
Red-necked Grebe-1

Submitted by Steve Baker

Waterbirds for October 19

Blustery west winds caused traffic escorts on the bridge , freighters to anchor down and birds to sit tight. Waterfowl movements tended to be flights right at water level with ducks disapearing into wave troughs. Even the crows were skimming the waves as they headed south. Two hours of observation from McGulpin Point yielded small numbers but good variety with the majority heading west, directly into the gale.
Black Scoter-2
Black Duck-1
C. merganser-4
C. Loon=1
Long-tailed duck-43
Horned Grebe-1
DC Cormorant-4
WW Scoter-10
Unidentified Duck-5

Submitted by Steve Baker

Ducks on the Move!

Sorry for the late post, but I’ve been travelling around the Upper Peninsula a bit.  I counted Sunday morning and had a really good push of Ducks through the area.  While we’ve had relatively low numbers of Dabbling Ducks this season, now that the Divers are taking over it seems that the Straits are becoming busier for migrating waterfowl.  White-winged Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks have been putting on a good show, while Common Goldeneyes and Bufflehead are becoming more common.  In fact, on Sunday, I saw my first Bufflehead of the season and the first Common Goldeneyes that I figure are probably actual migrants.  The number of Dark-winged Scoters (Surf/Black) has also increased.  81 Sandhill Cranes also flew south over the Straits.

I stopped by briefly on Saturday afternoon to count as well.  The same species were flying, mainly White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks (including one flock with over 225), and Red-breasted Mergansers.  Between squalls, raptors were flying over.  I counted 19 Red-tailed Hawks and one Northern Harrier.  A White-rumped Sandpiper flying down the beach was a highlight.

Of course, what all this means, which may come as bad news to some of you, is that winter is coming!  Well, good news or bad news, here are the numbers from Sunday followed by a few pictures, although the day was not a good photography day.

Species East West
Red-necked Grebe 0 1
Common Loon 12 2
White-winged Scoter 22 249
Duck sp. 46 36
Red-breasted Merganser 25 94
Greater Scaup 4 1
Lesser Scaup 6 2
Common Goldeneye 1 4
Redhead 19 4
Scaup sp. 52 0
Long-tailed Duck 19 433
Green-winged Teal 0 2
Aythya sp. 10 33
Double-crested Cormorant 3 1
Dark-winged Scoter (Surf/Black) 0 1
Bufflehead 0 6
Black Scoter 0 3

Canada Geese


American Crow


A large flock of Long-tailed Ducks

Long-tailed Ducks

A close crop of the head of the previous flock – clearly showing that they are Long-tailed Ducks.


White-winged Scoters with Black Scoters


A large string of White-winged Scoters

18 October Owl Update

Winds were strong from the southwest all night and not much was moving. The first of two saw-whets came through at 0330 hours and the second was captured at 0630 hours just before the winds hit 15 mph (although they were gusting higher than that all night).

We just had a little drizzle move through the point and the winds are exceeding 18 mph from the west. We’ll see how the night goes. For now, the nets will remain closed until these winds die down, which they’re predicted to do. Fingers crossed for a push of birds once this weather settles.

Slow trickle of saw-whets

Things have definitely slowed down a bit with the recent nasty weather across the northern Lower Peninsula-just my personal thoughts regarding the lack of birds over the last couple of nights. We had clear skies for the first half of the evening last night and then the clouds rolled in. The rain, however, missed us and we were able to keep the nets open until dawn.

Six more Northern Saw-whet Owls were banded last night bringing our count to 164 so far. We’re hoping for a few birds to move through tonight before the southwest winds pick up. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to see how we do!



October 17 Morning Waterbird observations

Snow flakes were in the air at Mcgulpin Point this morning with a chilly 28 degrees. There was not much activity through the straits and I only counted till 9:45 am. The days highlight was watching the many snow squalls roll through. Results were 2 Common Loon, 21 Redheads, 125 Unidentified Ducks, 43 WW Scoters, 1 Horned Grebe, and 1 Red-necked Grebe. Other birds seen were 4 Bald Eagles, and 2 Lapland Longspurs. Submitted by Steve Baker


October 14 Waterbird Report

October 14 at McGulpin Point began with a spectacular sunrise to the east and a rainbow to the west. It would have even better if it was 70 degrees instead of 40 with wind. A Bald Eagle flew by and seemingly bumped into the rainbow but he should be ok. Two hours of observation the best looks at Redheads so far for this water watcher and the first of many more Long-tailed Ducks yet to come. Totals were 316 Redheads, 5 DC Cormorant, 10 Common Merganser,8 Common Loon, 11 WW Scoter, 1 Canada Goose, 40 Long-tailed Ducks, 8 Gadwall, and 249 Unidentified Flying Ducks. The only raptor observed were 5 Bald Eagles. Submitted by Steve Baker