Monthly Archives: September 2017

Waterbird Count – 24 September

Not a bad day today in terms of species diversity, but pretty low numbers. Super calm and hot all day, and winds started out southerly. Several Loons were still moving this morning, and several species of ducks flew by, but the day was very quiet overall.

Canada Goose – 59
Mallard – 2
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 10
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 30
Common Loon – 14
Double-crested Cormorant – 35
Ring-billed Gull – 56
Herring Gull – 10

Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 6
Bald Eagle – 1
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Blue Jay – 1
American Crow – 2
Common Raven – 3
Black-capped Chickadee – 7
Tufted Titmouse – 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 9

Hawk Count Sept. 23

Another hot day at the Hawk Count at Point LaBarbe. Ed Pike counted, with Steve Baker’s help for a while and Bruce Seeger from Cheboygan helping spot birds. We had a good trickle of Sharp-shinned all day and a few falcons. No Buteo’s were moving. At about 11:20 am Steve Baker spotted a Frigatebird which appeared to be a juvenile or female which Steve and Ed looked at for a minute, it disappeared in the distance; then short time later Bruce arrived and said he had seen it soaring over the north end of the Mackinac Bridge. A great sighting for us and a new record for the UP and Mackinac Co. The list of Raptors is below.
Turkey Vulture 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 147
Bald Eagle 4
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Am. Kestrel 9

Monarch Butterfly 10
Magnificent Frigatebird 1

Waterbird Count – 23 September

Today was the best day for Loons that we’ve had so far this season. Individuals and trios were continuously flying east throughout the first couple hours of the morning. It was also a decent day for raptors, with a handful of Harriers, Merlins, Sharp-shins and a Peregrine. Strong north winds seemed to be kicking up activity a little bit compared to the past few days, so we had decent diversity overall – UNFORTUNATELY, the most exciting waterbird of the day (and the season thus far) was seen by the hawk count and missed by the waterbird count! Steve Baker spotted a Frigatebird flying south midway through the morning, and birders saw it shortly afterward flying over the bridge. Sadly it never came into range of McGulpin Point.
Canada Goose – 25
Mallard – 2
Common Merganser – 41
duck sp – 30
Common Loon – 52
loon sp – 1
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 6
Double-crested Cormorant – 36
Ring-billed Gull – 9
Herring Gull – 4
Other species:
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Bald Eagle – 2
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Merlin – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1
Blue Jay – 2
Common Raven – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 4
Tufted Titmouse – 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 5

Waterbird Count – 22 September

Busier day today than yesterday. The weather was hot, calm, and hazy.  A few ducks came by in the morning, along with Red-necked Grebes and several flocks of geese. It was also a good day for Sharp-shins, with a steady trickle coming over throughout the count.
Canada Goose – 56
Redhead – 4
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Merganser – 26
Duck sp – 1
Common Loon – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 15
Double-crested Cormorant – 30
Ring-billed Gull – 120
Herring Gull – 20
Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 19
Bald Eagle – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 2
American Kestrel – 2
Blue Jay – 2
Black-capped Chickadee – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 3

Owl Banding Updates

Good evening loyal blog followers. After having to close early on the night of the 20th, Frances and I were able to keep the nets open all night on the 21st. The night was good as it yielded 5 newly banded Saw-whets despite very foggy and warm conditions which are not the most favourable weather conditions to elicit Saw-whet movement.

The highlights of our banding night included catching 2 second year (SY) male birds. This means both these boys hatched the spring/summer of 2016. Tonight looks like the weather will be good to be open all night again. We hope the owls are plentiful and look forward to sharing all the excitement that ensues!

One of the Second year (SY) males caught

The typical molt pattern exhibited by SY birds. Here the pink feathers are new feathers replaced this year, and the non-fluorescent, dull feathers are feathers retained from last year. In SY birds the outer primaries and innermost secondaries is the pattern of replacement seen.


Tis The Season!

Hello everyone and welcome to the MSRW owl banding blog for this fall.  My name is Nick Alioto and I will be the head owl bander this season for MSRW. I can’t begin to emphasize how excited I am to be back and banding! My assistant this fall will be Frances Whalen who, as a lot of you may remember, was the Naturalist this past spring at the Hawk Watch.

Frances and I arrived in St.Ignace on September 18 in order to get settled in and get used to being nocturnal. Our official starting date to band is September 20, but we have banded on both the 18th and 19th to see if any owls were moving. On the night of September 18 the weather was perfect with clear skies and no wind. We were excited to capture 2 Northern Saw-Whet Owls. Both of these birds were hatch year (HY), meaning they were just hatched this spring/summer. One was female and the one was unknown but was likely a male due to its small size.

On the 19th we once again opened nets and caught 1 Saw-Whet, an HY female. Although it was a slow night, catching just one owl makes the long hours worthwhile. Unfortunately, last night we were unable to stay open long and caught no owls due to a thunder and lightning storm. Be sure to check back for regular updates on the progress of the season.

HY Female Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Hawk Count for Sept. 21

Today Ed Pike and Sue Stewart observed and counted Raptors crossing the Straits. It was very warm with a lite wind from the south and the Straits were very hazy, which slowed the Raptors from crossing. When they did cross they were very high, barely visible to the naked eye. Can’t beat the warm weather but it certainly has slowed migration. Our list is below:
Turkey Vulture 21
Sharp-shinned Hawk 50
Bald Eagle 22
Broad-winged Hawk 9
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Am. Kestrel 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Unidentified Falcon 1

Monarch Butterfly 14

Waterbird Count – 21 September

After heavy thunderstorms for much of last night, I came to the beach this morning anticipating that the storms may have pushed some ducks around. That was in fact not the case, and aside from a large group of Blue Jays and a single White-winged Scoter, it proved to be the quietest day this week for both waterbirds and raptors. The weather was still unseasonably warm and calm, and looks to stay that way through the weekend and the beginning of next week. I’m not the sort to complain about beautiful weather, but I will say that after seven and a half hours of watching a near empty lake, a single White-winged Scoter is deeply exciting.

It’s always interesting to see how different species respond to weather conditions during migration, and how timing for migration can differ annually in response. While our observations of waterbird movement in the straits barely scratch the surface of the complexity of migration, it’s great to be able to contribute to greater understanding of local bird movement, and of migration as a whole.

White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Merganser – 35
Duck sp. – 1
Common Loon – 3
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 35
Ring-billed Gull – 37
Herring Gull – 5

Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 4
Belted Kingfisher – 1
American Kestrel – 1
Blue Jay – 101
Black-capped Chickadee – 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 2

Waterbird Count – 20 September

It was a very foggy day today, and that combined with the warm, still weather made for a slow day, but species diversity is still pretty good compared to last week. A Blue-winged Teal and a Redhead flew by together shortly after dawn, and a handful of Redheads later in the day and the usual merganser activity were the extent of the duck activity for the day. Red-necked and Horned Grebes were loafing on the lake throughout the foggy morning, and the weather didn’t seem to deter raptor movement, with a Peregrine and a good number of Sharp-shins passing over as well.

Blue-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 5
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 4
Duck sp – 1
Common Loon – 3
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 31
Ring-billed Gull – 7
Herring Gull – 4

Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
Bald Eagle – 4
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
American Kestrel – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
Blue Jay – 3
American Crow – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
American Pipit – 3

Waterbird Count – 19 September

Ducks are on the move! A flock of about 200 Aythya ducks flew east shortly after sunrise, which is the first real duck flock that I’ve seen. Common Mergansers are grouping up, and I saw flicks of up to sixty flying back and forth throughout the day. Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles were coming over in the late morning.

Aythya sp. – 200
Common Merganser – 107
Duck sp – 2
Common Loon – 6
Double-crested Cormorant – 41
Ring-billed Gull – 11
Herring Gull – 4

Other species:
Turkey Vulture – 48
Osprey – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Bald Eagle – 6
American Kestrel – 4
American Crow – 2
Common Raven – 8
Monarch Butterfly – 1