Monthly Archives: April 2018

April 30th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

-.6C at the start of the count, which is tropical for the winter waterbird count! No wind and no wave action either. It warmed up fast today and I could hardly make out the barges anchored in the straits. They are only 1.5 miles from McGulpin Point, but the heat shimmer was extreme. Today would have to be the worst day of visibility since the frequent snow storms. Bad heat shimmer makes me actually miss the snowstorms. At least once I got my binoculars and spotting scope clear of snow and spindrift I was able to see birds. Nothing like seeing the silhouette of a bird in the heat shimmer and then madly shifting back and forth the focus only to find out you can’t make out any field marks on passing birds. The winds kicked up towards the end of the count to make sure things stayed cold. Winter is still hanging on at McGulpin Point with 21cm of snow and ice near the gazebo. Most of the ice wall is gone along the lakeshore.

Waterbird Notes –

(21) HOGR were visible before the heat shimmer kicked in. (6) RNGR were out in the straits as well. (22) COLO moved through today and I have no doubt I missed just as many in the heat shimmer. CATE (5) are being seen more regularly in the straits. A couple of copulating HEGU (2) let me know spring was in the air.

Non- waterbird Notes –

The most exciting thing to happen today was a resident Merlin nearly taking out a bird, likely a NOFL about 10 feet away from me. The Merlin was so close it had to shake it off as it flew away to the west of me. The second most exciting thing was one of the resident BCCH collecting nesting material from almost near my feet today. The bird kept flying under my chair on its back and forth forays. I imagine this is to let me know to keep the feeders full. The third most exciting thing about today was BARS (3) flying out in front of McGulpin several times during the count.

Wildlife-

No RESQ today, but the crackers I left out for it were swiped by something!

Freighters-

Roger Blough east bound at 10:15. I was lucky this boat came through when it did so I could get a good handle on LTDU. If it had come later in the day it would have been worthless as I couldn’t make any birds out in the channel through the heat shimmer.

Visitors –

Kathy and Jim Bricker stopped by bearing snacks!

Total observer hours – 7.75

Next days forecast –

A chance of showers between 11pm and 3am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 46. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 34

Total Count : 790

April 29th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Cold and still this morning with a temperature of -2.8C. Light wind of 1-5kph out of the north. Despite the cold it was ideal weather to be making long distance observations of migrating waterbirds.

Waterbird Notes –

WWSC (99) made a good showing today. Another (25) COLO moved through as well. A lone (1) CATE was spotted at the very end of the count. (9) HOGR appear to be growing in numbers each morning.

Non- waterbird Notes –

A lone SNOW was spotted by Leonard Graf moving north across the straits. It would seem the bird moved from somewhere to the west of us, possibly near the headlands. It then crossed low on the water on the preferred flight path of the NOHA. I am hoping that the rarity box will be removed from eBird for McGulpin Point for SNOW as this species is well documented in the straits and should hardly be considered a rarity here. A resident OSPR (1) was spotted coming south to McGulpin Rock late in the morning. A PIWO (1) was pretty active near the point today as well and I would imagine it doesn’t need to worry about the resident Merlin as much as NOFL.

Wildlife-

RESQ.

Freighters-

Stewart J. Cort east bound 12:11, Great Republic west bound 12:51 and Innovation west bound 1:38.

Visitors –

Leonard Graf joined me again on his way back south from Whitefish Point. I have really enjoyed birding with Leonard and he has put in the most effort in helping flesh out the count this season. A birder on his way back from Whitefish Point named Randy stopped in and I was happy he was able to see a lifer today of (5) WWSC! Several members of Petoskey Audubon Society dropped by again today.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, high of 62F. Winds south west 10 to 15mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 35

Total Count : 1209

April 28th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Still feeling the effect of winter here in the straits. 0C at the beginning of the count with a north wind blowing at 29-38kph. 2 foot waves coming to shore at McGulpin.

Waterbird Notes –

Pretty solid flight of waterbirds today. (35)COLO moved through the straits and an additional (5) loon sp.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Raptors were on the move as well making use of the western crossing of the straits. NOHA (3) adult males crossed together. (3) SSHA were seen crossing, but one kept coming back after venturing only halfway across the straits.

Wildlife-

RESQ.

Freighters-

Burns Harbor east bound 6:38, Kaye E. Barker east bound 9:50, Innovation east bound at 1:20 and Algoma Sault west bound at 1:20.

Visitors –

Several groups from the Petoskey Audubon Society stopped by.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 48. Light northwest wind becoming west 10 to 15 mph in the morning.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 32

Total Count : 903

April 27th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Light rain was falling as I made coffee this morning. By the beginning of the count at 6:20AM it had stopped. 2.2C at the start of the count with a north west wind 12-19kph. Low nimbo- stratus clouds sifted through the straits. The barometer rose slightly and the cloud cover lifted. Out to the west blue skies could be seen. At times today it was completely calm and glassy in the straits. It still hadn’t warmed up much by the end of the count with a temperature of 6.1C.

Waterbird Notes –

Other than a good pulse of COLO (23) between 6:30-9:30 it was a slow day in the straits. Hardly any birds were flying, including the merganser. (9) HOGR were seen resting near the shipping channel and (1) RNGR. DCCO (107) are back in force in the straits. Around noon 63 of them were seen roosting near the gull colony on Point LaBarbe. Another lone BOGU (1) was accidentally spotted while trying to get a high count on LTDU (201). Got a really nice look at REDH (3).

Non- waterbird Notes –

Very quiet in the forest behind the gazebo today. Ditto for the raptors crossing the straits. A new addition to this seasons count is GREG (8). The first two were seen crossing the straits heading south and many others were detected in the vicinity of the Point LaBarbe colony. I can only imagine the colony is going to be crowded shortly. TRES (4) continue to increase in numbers, today a group was seen foraging together out in the straits.

Wildlife-

RESQ was up to no good and doesn’t understand the suet isn’t for him.

Freighters-

H. Lee White west bound at 10:53 which is when I got the high count for resting LTDU.

Visitors –

A few different groups on their way to Whitefish Point’s Spring Fling stopped in today. Fortunately since conditions were ideal I was able to point a few resting birds out.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 43. North wind around 15 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 36

Total Count : 1012

April 26th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

A beautiful morning to be observing waterbirds with a temperature of just below freezing and no wind. No waves for the birds to hide behind either. Leonard Graf summed up todays weather best: ideal conditions to watch waterbirds. By the end of the count the wind had picked up to 12-19kph out of the west. The waves increased to 4ft out in the channel and the heat shimmer was noticeable. Temperature was a wonderful 10.6C. The barometer fell steadily during the count.

Waterbird Notes –

Solid flight of COLO(51) and an additional (3) loon sp. It really helped to have two sets of eyes on hand as I sometimes have my head down for several minutes trying to estimate large rafts of ducks like the LTDU (554) out in the channel. A highlight of the count was (4) GWTE hauling out onto shore near McGulpin Rock to rest. A person would have to be blind to not delight in these wonderfully colored teal. CANG (213) were on the move with several large flocks in a “V” heading north.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Underneath one of the “V’s” of CANG was a lone SSHA (1) trying to slip by undetected. It was interesting to note that although lower in altitude than the high flying CANG the SSHA was on the exact same flight path. I am beginning to think more about the possibility of other migratory birds cueing in on each other during migration. COLO flying out of kettles of raptors and raptors flying below waterbirds who are making efficient work of crossing the straits. The resident (1) Merlin was seen out in the straits crossing along its usual flight path just to the west of the gazebo and flying south. I would imagine the pickings out in the straits with the arrival of TRES is starting to get good. The forest behind the gazebo was pretty lively and at several points through the day large groups of YSFL (19) crossed together in small groups. The resident YSFL will escort them kindly about 100 meters out into the straits before returning back to McGulpin to continue calling and establishing their territories.

Wildlife-

RESQ

Freighters-

American Spirit east bound at 8:18, RTC 100 west bound at 9:22, Phillip R. Clarke east bound at 9:22, Mesabi Miner west bound 2:07 and John J. Boland west bound at 2:17.

Visitors –

Leonard Graf put in a serious effort this morning fleshing out the days count and capturing many of the COLO! Ed Pike came by for a visit at the end of the day and stoked me out on a new MSRW hoodie! I like that it has all of the raptors represented on the back and the bridge. I look forward to wearing it proudly out west during fall raptor migration.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Generally cloudy with a high of 46F. Winds north west at 5 – 10mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 45

Total Count : 1421

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Greetings once again raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back for another spring owl banding update. The saw-whet migration has slowed down a bit the past few nights. The weather has been pleasant lately, with temperatures dropping to only about 30 degrees at night with mainly clear skies and little to no wind. We have a bright waxing moon currently leading up to a full moon in a few nights.

On the night of the 22nd we caught 8 saw-whets, but we had another surprise waiting in one of the nets as we were closing up in the morning. A sharp-shinned hawk found its way into the net as dawn broke! We observed 2 other sharp-shinned hawks fly over a nearby net prior to us finding the third caught at the next net location.

This is a second year female sharp-shinned hawk. Hawks in the genus Accipiter display a drastic, but beautiful change in the color of their iris as they age. They start off with a bright yellow iris, which turns to orange and finally a deep red. It was certainly a treat for us to capture, band and photograph this amazing bird before releasing her to continue her migration.

 

On the night of the 23rd we caught another 5 saw-whets, with no other surprise guests in the nets. On the 24th our nets remained empty and we had to close two hours early due to some rain moving into the area. Last night (25th) we captured 1 more saw-whet which brings our total for the season up to 117 saw-whet owls banded.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post we capture owls that were previously banded at a different banding station or by the MSRW in a previous year. We also have owls that we banded earlier the same night or banded on a previous night fly into the nets as well. We refer to these owls simply as “recaptures” and they are not counted with our total number of owls as they were counted when we first banded them. This happen more often than capturing the “foreign retraps” I talked about in my previous post. A few nights ago we had one saw-whet fly back into the net 6 more times after being banded! These instances of owls returning to the nets demonstrates that using mist nets is a safe way to capture birds without causing them any undue stress that would be detrimental to their health. As always, the safety of the birds is our top priority!

Thanks for checking in and be sure to stop back often for more owl banding updates as well as updates from the hawk and waterbird counts!

-Matthew

http://isitsi.com/physician-biographies/embed/ Total:

source url Northern saw-whet owls-117

April 25th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Trace amount of rain in the area overnight. Even though the temperature was 2.8C it seemed cold as wind was blowing out of the north west at 19kph. The sunrise was awesome and it lit up the birds well for the first few hours before it clouded up. The barometer rose slightly through the count. 21 cm of snow still remain from the last storm at McGulpin Point.

Waterbird Notes –

Slow day for waterbirds in the straits. Fortunately Leonard Graf was on deck to help with detections. Leonard helped me hone my GRSC (2) / LESC (10) skills. He also picked up a HOGR (1) and RNGR (1) at nearly 3 miles. We both enjoyed the light this morning on the (20) COLO.

I did want to provide an update on how this years count has been going. For most of the beginning of the count waterbirds were unable to use the area in front of McGulpin Point due to ice. Another issue was poor weather conditions to count in, both visibility being and issue and an inability to keep blowing snow off the binoculars and spotting scope. The first 3 weeks of the count shouldn’t be considered an accurate approximation of birds using the straits as it was less than ideal for a host of reasons to even detect them. Fortunately for me I am just now feeling comfortable with a routine of capturing the migrants in the tablet and scanning properly to pick up as many birds as is possible.  As of today 18,794 birds have been counted of 73 species. Not all of the birds counted are waterbirds as I am counting everything that flies or calls. Since migration is hardly underway I would imagine it will be easy to exceed 20,000 birds during this seasons count. I am keeping busy and on task attempting to capture as much information as is possible about waterbird migration. The days literally fly by when there are plenty of birds to count! I have a routine of spiffing out my tally at the end of the day, transferring the information to eBird and putting up a blog post. After that very little daylight is left to cook up some food and set up camp.

Non- waterbird Notes –

A lone adult male NOHA (1) was spotted early in the morning setting off across the straits near McGulpin Rock. A cold and windy day quieted things down in the forest behind the gazebo.

Wildlife-

RESQ.

Freighters-

Spencer F. Baird west bound 9:50, Pere Marquette west bound 10:49, Manitowoc west bound 12:38 and RTC 100 east bound at 12:41.

Visitors –

Leonard Graf lent his expertise in spotting and identifying distant waterbirds for 3 hours of the count today. I greatly appreciate his skills and knowledge as new species continue to pour through the straits. Bev and Jack Kirby came down to say hello and brought some snacks. Joe of DEQ and Caroline who is The Great Lakes Policy Specialist for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians visited during the end of the count. It was interesting to learn about the tribes perspective of the straits.

go here “The LTBB are people of the water. The Odawa people originated from the water and will return to the water. The plants, wildlife, and aquatic life that are dependent on clean water are used for cultural, ceremonial, medicinal uses, and for food.”

They see the area and its waters as sacred. Having had a brief glimpse of migration through the straits I believe their understanding of this special place is the most fitting.

Update on the road situation. The parking lot has melted out nicely, but care should be taken not to park in a soupy spot. In the afternoon the road down becomes a creek with snowmelt running down it and the parking lot becomes a quagmire. Clearance no longer is an issue and I would imagine most vehicles could make it in and out as long as care is taken in assessing where to park.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 47. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 35

Total Count : 940

April 24th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

No wind again this morning and a temperature of 1.7C. The barometer fell slightly. Visibility was excellent but the heat shimmer did appear around 10:30AM. Light cirrus clouds helped provide a blank canvas to spot loons and other waterbirds on.

Waterbird Notes –

The first NSHO (5) of this springs count were spotted flying high and nearly 2 miles away moving west. NOPI (9) were following a similar flight path a few hours later. (2) SUSC were seen very close to McGulpin Point and it was hard to miss their distinctive bill. (30) COLO passed through the straits during the count. (6) HOGR and (2) RNGR were seen flying together low over the water at dawn. Nice to have a side by side comparison to help with estimating the size disparity between the two species. (2) BOGU were spotted for the first time this season flying in the cove to the east of McGulpin.

Non- waterbird Notes –

The resident Merlin greeted me first thing this morning at McGulpin. I appreciate it reminding me whose territory I am in. A resident Osprey was spotted low over the water coming south to McGulpin, another first detection for the season. (2) NOHA crossed the straits, one early and the other just a little before noon. (1) RLHA took the eastern option in the afternoon. No new detections in the forest behind the gazebo, but they are certainly busy with bird life.

Wildlife-

RESQ

Freighters-

Calumet west bound 7:17, Edwin H Gott west bound 12:05.

Visitors –

Ed Pike

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Partly sunny, with a high near 46. North wind around 10 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 44

Total Count : 1261

April 23rd Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Calm and a temp of -1C at the start of the count. A light haze hung in the straits. By the afternoon it had warmed to 8.9C and a light wind blew out of the north east. Heat shimmer started around 10:30AM. By the end of the count a little after 2:00PM the winds had picked up to 11kph out of the north east and the temperature was 11.1C. Barometric pressure fell steadily through the count.

Waterbird Notes –

BWTE (2) were a welcome addition to todays flight. LTDU (404) continue to be in the shipping channel and St. Helena vicinity during most of the afternoon. WWSC ( 111) were actively moving through the straits as well. The first CATE (1) was heard, then spotted flying west directly over the gazebo.

Loon migration is in full swing! (30) COLO and (5) loon sp. The busiest time of the count was 8:30AM to 10:30AM when 27 individuals moved west through the straits. Scanning for loons is quickly becoming an obsession. Loon make quick work of motoring through the straits, sometimes high over the supports of the bridge. It is also important to consider that of the 35 individuals spotted today, possibly and equal number is moving by above McGulpin on the south side of the straits. These loon wouldn’t be visible from the gazebo. I have spent a couple afternoons watching raptors from Darrow’s and watched 1-3 loons fly from out of a kettle of raptors. These loon were all COLO and flying south of the straits high over land.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Raptors were active crossing the straits at 12:40PM. BWHA (2) were seen flying higher than the TUVU across the straits, from my vantage point higher than the towers on the bridge. When raptors are taking the eastern crossing it pays to look above the TUVU. RTHA (3) and RLHA (1) both crossed the straits near McGulpin Point. (71) SACR were seen migrating today both at dawn and in the afternoon. The resident Merlin were active, calling from perches behind the gazebo throughout the day. A TUTI tried to visit the feeder without being noticed, but the distinctive crown gave it away as I scanned for loons.

Wildlife-

RESQ.

Freighters-

Calumet east bound 7:17, American Spirit west bound 9:16, Philip R. Clarke 11:12.

Visitors –

Tony USDA and a reporter from the St. Ignace News.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Partly cloudy. Slight chance of rain. High near 50F. North west winds 10 to 15mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 42

Total Count : 1563

April 22nd Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Clear, still and cold this morning with a temp of -2.2C. Lots of ice has come back to McGulpin Point which made it unusable to waterbirds. An evening count was made and the temps had climbed to 13.3 C.

Waterbird Notes –

Slow day for waterbirds. LTDU led the count with 410 individuals out in their favorite location along the west side of the shipping channel. CANG continue to be on the move with 149 individuals. COME are steadily increasing in the straits at 58 individuals.

Non- waterbird Notes –

At dawn above the gazebo the resident Merlin was seen nearly taking a passerine above the gazebo. It took several swipes at the bird, but the prey managed to elude this formidable hunter. The forest behind the gazebo is starting to come alive with residents and migrants. A WITU was seen ambling up the road out of the lower parking lot at McGulpin.

Wildlife-

RESQ.

Freighters-

Edgar B. Speer west bound 8:07 and Federal Beaufort west bound at 12:00.

Visitors –

None

Total observer hours – 8.25 ( split count 6:20AM – 12:30 and 5:50PM- 8:00PM)

Next days forecast –

Sunny to partly cloudy. High near 50F. Winds E at 5-10mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 40

Total Count : 1073