Waterbird Count, March 29

This morning I was joined by the newest addition to the Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch team:  Bryant Eddy.  A majority of the birds seen today were identified in flight rather than resting due to unexpected ice formations in the middle of the strait; there was frost on the ground this morning, and in the middle of the straits there were channels of thin ice that extended up to half a mile.  As a result of the ice dividing the strait into smaller channels, there was much less open water today.  Additionally, many birds were sighted near the edge of the visibility domain, and coupled with the light fog and heat shimmer from the rising temperatures, identification was more challenging.  Despite there being a high density of cirrostratus clouds throughout the day, the sunlight did not wane.  There was a good diversity of waterfowl species mobilizing today, including a trio of Mute Swans and a good number of Redheads.  However, the activity of raptors and non-target species today was even better.  A few Black-capped Chickadees came down to the gazebo and were hopping along the wooden poles and even my chair.  A high number of Snow Buntings flying east passed by very close to shore along with a couple more Killdeer.  Additionally, Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks were observed soaring over St. Ignace and McGulpin Point after midday.  There was even a flock of Sandhill Cranes flying northeast at the end of my observation period.

Canada Goose – 101
Mute Swan – 3
Mallard – 6
Redhead – 36
Greater Scaup – 2
Aythya sp. – 38
Long-tailed Duck – 27
Common Goldeneye – 51
Hooded Merganser – 3
Common Merganser – 40
Red-breasted Merganser – 347
duck sp. – 382

Other Species:
Turkey Vulture – 5
Bald Eagle – 6
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
Buteo sp. – 6
Sandhill Crane – 18
Killdeer – 2
Snow Bunting – 43