Monthly Archives: September 2016

Waterbird Count, September 29

Not as many ducks moving today as in recent days, but thankfully most that were on the move were relatively close to shore. There was a good push of raptors late in the day between 1:30-2:30pm, a bit later than I usually see peak movement. At one point I had 88 Turkey Vultures crossing the Straits all at once. There was nice movement of Sandhill Cranes throughout the afternoon.

Canada Goose – 140
Redhead – 34
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 13
scoter sp. – 1
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 4
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
duck sp. – 31
Red-throated Loon – 4
Common Loon – 41
loon sp. – 2
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 11
Double-crested Cormorant – 40

Turkey Vulture – 103
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 9
Red-tailed Hawk – 9

Sandhill Crane – 375

Surf Scoters (probable first year females), 9/29/16

Surf Scoters (probable first year females), 9/29/16

Red-throated Loons, 9/29/16

Red-throated Loons, 9/29/16


Owl Banding 9/28/16

Pointe LaBarbe, St. Ignace, MI
Night of September 28th, 2016

After three nights off due to high winds and heavy rains, we were finally able to open nets last night. It was a beautiful, calm night with an awesome display of Northern Lights around one o’clock in the morning and lots of shooting stars all night. Winds were cooperative with a slight breeze gusting out of the North, and we banded a total of 14 Saw-whets! 10 were female, 3 males, and 1 unknown. Almost all of the birds were hatch year birds, with one female being aged as an after second year bird. We also had our first bat of the season in one of the nets around three o’clock in the morning. It’s always so awesome to see such an elusive animal up close, though I was glad to have leather gloves for extracting it out of the net!

Waterbird Count, September 28

A fairly slow day for waterbirds, but there was decent variety and a good number of raptors. The weather was quite pleasant with soft easterly winds and calm water. Thanks to Phil Odum for joining me for the entire count today. We had nice numbers of Turkey Vultures and Cooper’s Hawks, as well as all 3 species of falcon.

Canada Goose – 73
Mallard – 7
Redhead – 38
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 10
Aythya sp. – 9
scoter sp. – 1
Common Merganser – 6
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 145
Red-throated Loon – 3
Common Loon – 17
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 10
Red-necked Grebe – 18
Double-crested Cormorant – 83
Great Blue Heron – 2

Turkey Vulture – 133
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 15
Cooper’s Hawk – 4
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Red-shouldered/Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
American Kestrel – 1
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
falcon sp. – 1

Monarch – 3

Waterbird Count, September 27

Although today was fraught with intermittent rain and frequent poor visibility, it was a pretty productive day. It was also the coldest day of the season, particularly due to the strong west wind. It was once again a great Redhead and loon day. Despite high waves, I saw a good number of Horned Grebes on the water, the highest so far this season. One highlight of the rainy conditions was 6 different rainbows over the Straits.

Canada Goose – 142
teal sp. – 1
Redhead – 267
Greater Scaup – 12
Lesser Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 14
duck sp. – 275
Red-throated Loon – 5
Common Loon – 60
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 15
Red-necked Grebe – 15
Double-crested Cormorant – 25

Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, September 26

A good amount of ducks and loons on the move today. It rained from around 8:00-9:00 and was overcast all day, which resulted in some missed identifications. Still, it was the best loon day of the season for both of the two species. From what I could ID of the many ducks, the majority were Redheads, with the highlight of a single Surf Scoter. Given the poor weather, I had very few raptors.

Canada Goose – 69
Mallard – 9
Redhead – 118
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 8
Common Merganser – 17
Red-breasted Merganser – 9
duck sp. – 365
Red-throated Loon – 11
Common Loon – 64
loon sp. – 12
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 57

Bald Eagle – 2
falcon sp. – 1

Waterbird Count, September 25

Not nearly as productive as Darrell’s day yesterday, but a good day nonetheless. I had my best loon day of the season for both species. The goose movement of the past few days seems to have slowed a bit, but I still had a decent amount. I had a large flock of Redheads move west, just as Darrell did yesterday, but it was 10x fewer… with about 230 birds. As waterbird movement slowed in the afternoon, I had a small movement of raptors, including a Peregrine Falcon. I saw an interesting interaction of a crossing Sharp-shinned Hawk flying just above the water getting mercilessly harassed by four Ring-billed Gulls. The Sharpie looked quite exhausted by the time it got to shore.

Canada Goose – 117
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 248
Lesser Scaup – 4
White-winged Scoter – 12
Common Merganser – 7
duck sp. – 73
Red-throated Loon – 5
Common Loon – 61
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 31

Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 14
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 7
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
American Kestrel – 5
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Ring-billed Gull vs. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/25/16

Ring-billed Gull vs. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/25/16

Waterbirds – 9/24/2016

I filled in for Jason at the waterbird count again on Saturday.  It was an exciting day right from the beginning as an Eastern Screech Owl was vocalizing in the trees behind the count.  The day featured three species of goose with Canada, Cackling (thank you to Jason for keeping on my case about the small goose and for providing photos), and blue-morph Snow Goose.  Other waterbird highlights include all three species of scoter with very close looks at six Surf Scoters.  And estimated 2000 Redheads also lifted off from east of the bridge and flew out of sight to the west.  Oddly enough, after that the waterbird flight sort of stopped.

However, raptors took off in a big way with many birds streaming over from the Upper Peninsula.  Most of these were Turkey Vultures,  but Bald Eagles and Sharp-shinned Hawks made a strong showing as well.

The real highlight of the day for me was right at the end of the count when a Parasitic Jaeger flew by close enough to be identified – always a challenge with Jaegers.

The Straits continues to provide exciting birds.  Stay tuned to read about what shows up next.

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)  1
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  1
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  634
Cackling/Canada Goose (Branta hutchinsii/canadensis)  2
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  1
Redhead (Aythya americana)  2007
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  9
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)  6
White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)  42
Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)  2
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)  1
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  1
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  19
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)  15
duck sp. (Anatinae sp.)  2
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)  3
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  32
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)  1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  77
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  209
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  31
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  86
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (borealis) (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)  11
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  83
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)  1
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  27
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  5
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1
falcon sp. (Falco sp.)  3
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  53
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  25
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  7
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  13
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  2
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)  8
Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  5

Owl Banding 9/24/16

Pointe LaBarbe, St. Ignace, MI
Night of September 24, 2016

Winds out of the east slowed the banding progress down last night, with a low total of five new Saw-whet owls caught. We did finally get some older birds last night, with two of the females caught being aged at after second years. The rest of the birds caught were hatch year birds, two females and one male. The weather forecast is not promising for the next few days, there is a large front moving from the west bringing lots of rain. Hopefully after that storm migration will kick into high gear!

Waterbird Count, September 23

A pretty productive day with good waterbird movement in the morning and good raptor movement in the afternoon. Yet again I saw the large group of ducks on the east side of the bridge rise up and land back down on the water. I conservatively estimated 1600 but it’s rather difficult to count a dense, undulating cloud of ducks. Sandhill Cranes are beginning to move more and more.

Canada Goose – 529
Redhead – 16
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 12
White-winged Scoter – 19
Common Merganser – 29
Red-breasted Merganser – 3
duck sp. – 1666
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 32
Red-necked Grebe – 16
Double-crested Cormorant – 73

Turkey Vulture – 83
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 13
Red-tailed Hawk – 3
falcon sp. – 1

Sandhill Crane – 116

Monarch – 3

Owl Banding 9/23/16

Pointe LaBarbe, St. Ignace, MI
Night of September 23, 2016

Calm weather made for a great banding night last night, with a total of 15 Northern Saw-whet owls caught! One bird was a recapture from two nights previous, a hatch year female, and when reweighed she had gained 4 grams in body weight. All the rest of the birds caught were hatch years, with most being female, 10 out of the 14 new birds! In addition, we caught three male Saw-whets and one owl that was un-sexable. The weather looks calm for tonight, but the wind is predicted to be coming out of the east tonight, hopefully that doesn’t impede our banding effort!