Monthly Archives: September 2017

Waterbird Count – 18 September

Had a cold front last night that kicked some waterbirds into action this morning. High numbers of Common Mergansers and a Greater Scaup were the highlights, but had some decent eagle movement into the afternoon as well.

Greater Scaup – 1
Common Merganser – 63
Duck sp. – 1
Common Loon – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 27
Ring-billed Gull – 30
Herring Gull – 10

Other species:
Turkey Vulture – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Blue Jay – 1
American Crow – 2
Common Raven – 2
Black-capped Chickadee – 2
American Pipit – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 16

Hawk Count Sept. 18

Today Ed Pike counted raptors migrating across the Straits as well as some other species. The count occurred from 12 pm till 4 pm; it was sunny and very warm with light winds from the southwest slowly switching to the west as the afternoon went on; a beautiful day at the Straits. There was a high layer of clouds moving Northeast and a lower layer moving south. Most birds were flying very high barely visible to the naked eye. Right after arriving I heard Sandhills calling to the east and to the west but I was unable to locate them. Then I heard another group calling and finally saw them, 16 sandhills that flew right overhead. They were so high to be barely visible to the naked eye which explained why I could not locate the other 2 groups at a distance. Several more flocks flew by all really high. The raptors were also very high and were seen best when right overhead looking more like dots than raptors; mostly singles with some 2’s and 3’s. Another good day of counting. The list of sightings are below.
C, Loon 1
Turkey Vulture 27
N. Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned 22
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 3
Broad-winged Hawk 8
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Sandhill Crane 61
Am. Kestrel 4
Peregrine Falcon 1
Monarch Butterfly 14

Waterbird Count – 17 September

Today I once again provided Aspen with a much deserved day off.  It was rather interesting in terms of weather.  It seems that at least three different fronts came through with each changing the wind direction slightly.  The first change was the most exciting as it brought a small flurry of Common Loons flying in front of it.  Of course, the sudden changes in the wind and wave activity that can take place on the great lakes is probably one of the reasons that you rarely see this:

Freighter with piles of dirt.

I can’t imagine that would be much fun if the seas really get big, but hopefully they were not going far…

Anyway, other than the major shifts in wind, today was unseasonably warm.  This  may explain why many of the birds flying by today had their bills open.

Herring Gull

Common Loons

Birds often do this on warm days, so I assume it helps them thermoregulate.

Despite the frequent changes in the direction of the wind, it primarily had a strong southern component to it all day long, which meant that it was overall a pretty slow day at the count.  Loons, all Common, and raptors moved through in decent numbers prior to the first shift in the wind.  The most exciting bird of the day came through early when a distant but unmistakable jaeger flew south along the bridge.  Unfortunately, it was far too distant to determine species with any certainty.  Three species of falcon migrated south today also, including Merlin, American Kestrel, and Peregrine Falcon.  Unfortunately, once the wind changed, the flight shut down entirely.  This happened about halfway through the day, so the last four hours were pretty dull.  Here are a few photos from the first few hours followed by the daily totals.

American Crow enjoying the beach

An American Kestrel that came through in the first hour.

The same kestel as above

A small flock of Common Mergansers were floating offshore for bit today.

First cycle Herring Gull

In the fall, we also keep track of Monarch Butterflies that we see flying south across the straits.

Bright, male Northern Harrier.

A Tufted Titmouse that came in looking for food.

Canada Goose 108

Mallard 1

Long-tailed Duck 2

Common Goldeneye 1

Common Merganser 7

merganser sp. 5

Common Loon 22

loon sp. 1

Horned Grebe 3

Red-necked Grebe 4

Double-crested Cormorant 99

Osprey 3

Northern Harrier 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk 4

Bald Eagle 4

jaeger sp. 1

Ring-billed Gull 11

Herring Gull 19

gull sp. 8

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1

Belted Kingfisher 1

Downy Woodpecker 1

American Kestrel 3

Merlin 1

Peregrine Falcon 1

Red-eyed Vireo 1

Blue Jay 33

American Crow 8

Black-capped Chickadee 8

Tufted Titmouse 3

Red-breasted Nuthatch 1

American Pipit 7

Monarch Butterfly 5

Waterbird Count – 16 September

Really warm and still all day today. Harriers, kestrels, Sharp-shins, and monarch butterflies were all trickling over the straights, along with a few small flocks of geese, but very little else was happening in the waterbird department.
Canada Goose – 20
Mallard – 1
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 10
Common Loon – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 20
Ring-billed Gull – 120
Herring Gull – 20
Other species:
Turkey Vulture – 5
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Bald Eagle – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
American Kestrel – 2
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 3
Common Raven – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 8

Hawk Count Sept. 16

Today Ed Pike counted raptors flying south from 10:30 am till 3:30 pm. Shortly after 11 a few raptors started flying including a nice male Peregrine that landed in a tree with a good view from a scope. There was a nice movement of Sharp-shinned till 3pm. There was also a nice variety of raptors although no Buteo’s were moving. The list is below:
Turkey Vulture 6
Osprey 2
N. Harrier 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 71
Bald Eagle 2
Broad-winged 1
Am. Kestrel 9
Merlin 3
Peregrine Falcon 2
C. Loon 1
Monarch Butterfly 11

Waterbird Count – 15 September

It was a goose sort of morning today at McGulpin. 372 came over between seven and ten, and one of the larger flocks had a Cackling Goose mixed in. I also had three other firsts for the season today, though they weren’t waterbirds. A couple of American Kestrels, a Northern Harrier, and a couple of Blackpoll Warblers all came over the straits, along with another small group of unidentified songbirds.
Cackling Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 372
Common Loon – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 19
Ring-billed Gull – 140
Herring Gull – 20
Other species:
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Bald Eagle – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
American Kestrel – 2
Merlin – 1
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 3
Black-capped Chickadee – 6
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch- 1
Blackpoll Warbler – 2

Waterbird Count – 14 September

It was foggy and calm this morning, with north winds picking up into the afternoon. Still very little waterbird activity, though the first pair of scaup of the season flew by in the afternoon, and twenty Common Mergansers were chasing a school of fish in the shallow water by the shore.  A  Sharp-shinned Hawk and some monarchs flew over before the wind picked up, and several flocks of geese crossed over heading south.
Canada Goose – 87
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 2
Common Merganser – 24
Common Loon – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 21
Ring-billed Gull – 14
Herring Gull – 2
Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 2
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
Blue Jay – 9
American Crow – 2
Common Raven – 2
Black-capped Chickadee – 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 4

Waterbird Count – 13 September

Calm, warm day at McGulpin. Aside from a handful of Sharp-shinned Hawks that came over, some migrating geese, and the usual mergansers, there was no activity to speak of.
Canada Goose – 41
Hooded Merganser – 4
Common Merganser – 12
Double-crested Cormorant – 16
Ring-billed Gull – 5
Herring Gull – 2
Other species:
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Bald Eagle – 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
American Crow – 3
Common Raven – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Monarch Butterfly – 1

Waterbird Count – 12 September

Gorgeous weather today at the count, with a light north breeze throughout the day that kicked up a little bit of duck activity. Mergansers were again flying back and forth throughout the morning, a Green-winged Teal flew by early this morning, and a handful of Aythya ducks passed through later in the day. Two Sandhill Cranes came over during the afternoon. There was no real raptor movement to speak of, though the afternoon remained warm and reasonably calm.
Green-winged Teal – 1
Aythya sp. – 3
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 2
Common Loon – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 9
Double-crested Cormorant – 24
Ring-billed Gull – 5
Herring Gull – 3
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 2
Sandhill Crane – 2
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 3
Black-capped Chickadee – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 1

Hawk Count Sept. 12

Steve Baker counted Raptors today. It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures and sunny skies. The winds switched to the west and some Raptors began flying; most of which were lower making observations easier. The list is below:
Turkey Vulture 22
Bald Eagle 8
Sharp-shinned 22
Broad-winged Hawk 25
Am. Kestrel 1
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 1