Monthly Archives: April 2018

10000+

Over 10000+ Red-tailed hawk in the last few days . Number are deceasing with today’ s  total being 222, but Broad-winged Hawks are on the rise with 444 seen today. Had several dark-morph Red-tails. Also 85 Rough-legged were seen. One Great Egret came  by yesterday! Had a few more Golden Eagles bringing the total to 168 so far.

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Greetings once again fellow raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back to another update for the spring owl banding blog. The saw-whet owl migration is starting to pick back up in Cheboygan State Park!

When we opened the nets on the night of the 20th we were hoping to avoid another night of empty nets and we were not disappointed. We caught 3 saw-whets throughout the course of the night, but that wasn’t all we caught! On our final net check at dawn we walked up to our furthest set of nets and accidentally flushed a woodcock into the net! It was quite a surprise to have something other than an owl in the nets, but still a very cool experience.

 

Last night (21st) was even busier than the previous night with 12 saw-whets captured. This puts our total owl count at 103! To commemorate the event we snapped a picture of our 100th owl, a third-year (TY) female.

We often get asked if we catch owls that have already been banded elsewhere and the answer is yes! Although it is much more likely to catch an unbanded owl, we do catch some owls that already have bands. We call these owls “foreign retraps” which means that the owl was banded at a different banding station or was banded by MSRW in a previous year. It is important to collect data on every owl that we catch and band. However, it is equally, if not more, important to collect data on these foreign retrapped owls because it allows us to learn a great deal of information about them. We can learn where the owl was originally banded and how long ago it was banded. This gives us an idea of how far the owl traveled and where it traveled to. It can also gives us a confirmation of how old the owl is. For example, earlier this season we caught a saw-whet that was previously banded as a hatch year (the owl was in its first year of life) by the MSRW owl banders in 2014. This means that the owl is now 5 years old! How cool is that?! There are many different things that we can learn from these owls which is why it is very important that we continue to do this research every year.

This spring alone we have caught foreign retraps from the following locations:

Cedar Grove Hawk Research Station near Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Point La Barbe, Michigan (Fall MSRW owl banding location)

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory near Paradise, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula

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

-Matthew

click to read Total:

http://bettersepticservices.com/wp-login.php?redirect_to=https://bettersepticservices.com/wp-admin/ Northern saw-whet owls-103

April 21st Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

The straits were completely still this morning which made for an intense reddish sunrise. Temperatures were just below freezing. By 7:30AM it was above freezing. Barometer held steady during the days count. Except for an occasional gust the winds were negligible. The heat shimmer was noticeable by 10:30. By the end of the count it was 7.8C which is a virtual heat wave for the “winter” waterbird count!

Waterbird Notes –

Solid flight today with good diversity.  MUSW made their first appearance of the season, 3 individuals flying together from the west to east close to the gazebo. DCCO are steadily increasing in numbers in the straits with 109 individuals being counted today. A new migrant made its first appearance of the count and luckily close to 250 meters from the gazebo. A lone HOGR spent the better part of the afternoon at McGulpin to later be joined by another.

Non- waterbird Notes –

The forest behind the gazebo is coming alive! The first TRES, EAPH, SOSP, NOFL all made their presence known. The EAPH came in close to perch in front of the gazebo and Kathy Bricker thinks the bird was eying the gazebo for a potential nest site. A TRES was seen coming down to the water near the shore ice to skim a drink or insect. SOSP was heard up the hill yesterday near the lighthouse parking lot belting out its distinctive song. This bird was heard again this morning first thing in the dark while I hand ground my coffee. The bird eventually found its way down the hill to the gazebo and came continually closer to the gazebo.

Wildlife-

RESQ, but the little trouble maker is keeping its distance which is preferred.

Freighters-

Federal Mackinac west bound at 9:49AM. This boat helped bump the LTDU for the approximate total.

Visitors –

Kathy and Jim Bricker, Diane Morand and Sue Ormand.  For road and approach updates read  April 19th’s post here.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 53. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 43

Total Count : 1776

April 20th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Clear and cold start to todays count with a temperature of -5C. By 8:30AM the temperature climbed above freezing. The wind picked up around 12:30 to 19kph out of the north west and the heat shimmer became noticeable. The shore ice is beginning to melt fast and large blocks of undercut ice fell into the lake. On shore the snow from the last storm is condensing fast. Rock hard in the morning and slushy by the afternoon.

Waterbird Notes –

Todays flight marks a steady increase of COLO at 26 individuals. A split count captured todays movement as 17 birds were picked up in the morning between 7:00- 9:00AM. An additional 8 more were detected between 6:00-6:30PM. Going forward I will do my best to get back to the count in the evening when the weather is suitable.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Many of the diurnal raptors that hadn’t crossed the straits yesterday were still roosting in the McGulpin Point area at dawn. Primarily TUVU, which the resident crows seemed to take exception to. A lone SSHA made a crossing of the straits at 11:56. One of the fringe benefits of being the “winter” waterbird counter is seeing the smaller raptors who fly low make short work of the crossing. Much more confident than a timid RTHA who keeps circling back or TUVU who arrive in the evening when it is too late to cross. A PIWO returned to give its wildman call. The bird was very close to the gazebo pounding heavily on a tree. A late season PIGR was heard nearly in the same tree it was spotted in earlier in March.

Wildlife-

RESQ

Freighters-

RTC 100 west bound at 6:45PM.

Visitors –

Lynn Fraze

Total observer hours – 8.0 ( split count 6:30AM – 1:00PM and 6:00PM – 7:30)

Next days forecast –

Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 35

Total Count : 1033

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Good afternoon fellow raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back to another update for the spring owl banding blog. It seems, for the moment anyway, that spring has FINALLY arrived here in the straits. I hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures as much as we are. Although most of our waking hours are spent checking nets at night Connor and I have some time at dawn and in the late afternoon to see our surroundings during the daylight hours. This is our time to make trips into town to stock up on groceries, connect to the internet and do some birding.

With that being said we’ve been somewhat stranded at the cabin since the last snowstorm came through. When we last left you it was Saturday the 14th and there were strong winds blowing through that prevented us from opening the nets that night. Then the following two nights, the 15th and 16th, the snowstorm rolled through which again prevented us from opening the nets and leaving the cabin. Tuesday came around and Ed Pike met us at the nearest plowed road (a 1.5 mile hike from the cabin) and drove us into town to buy some groceries and stop for some fast food. Upon returning to the cabin we attempted to open the nets for the first time since Friday the 13th, however the nets were still iced up so we couldn’t open them. We’d also like to give a shout out to Kathy Bricker and her husband Jim. They were kind enough to let us come over to their house and shower, do laundry, charge electronics and eat a meal. Thanks so much to Ed and Kathy and Jim for helping us out!

Finally on Wednesday (18th) the ice had melted off the nets and we were able to open for a full night of trapping. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any owls. Last night (19th) was more of the same, a full night of checking empty nets. However, around 2am while we were doing a net check we happened to look to Northwest to see the northern lights glimmering in the night sky! This was the first time either of us have seen the northern lights, so we grabbed our cameras and snapped a few photos to capture the event.

In the photo we’re looking Northwest with the lights on the far left being those of the Mackinaw Bridge.

With more pleasant weather on the way we’re hopeful that the saw-whets (and possibly long-ears) will start moving through again. Thanks for checking in and be sure to come back for more spring owl banding updates as well as updates from the hawk and waterbird counts!

-Matthew

April 19th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

-.6 C with 28kph winds out of the north at the start of todays count. By 9:30 the temperature climbed to just above freezing. The barometer rose slightly through the count. 2 ft waves were slapping into the shore ice and the heat shimmer was noticeable.

Waterbird Notes –

A lone COLO was seen rounding McGulpin Point a little after sunrise. This would be the first good look I have gotten of one since the beginning of the count. COLO continued to trickle through during the count today with no apparent rhyme or reason to their movements.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Solid raptor flight today for McGulpin Point. A lone MERL led the flight at 8:21AM. The falcon was locked into a trough between the waves headed north. It was a memorable migrant to see crossing the straits with such little effort. Shortly after the TUVU started to cross in very large flocks. In total 157 individuals crossed during the count today. 4 RTHA made there way west to the gazebo before beginning their crossing of the straits. TUVU were still stacking up at the end of the second half of the count in the evening.

Wildlife-

None

Freighters-

Virginiaborg east bound at 6:46. Ironmaster west bound at 7:00. Philip R Clarke east bound at 7:37. Roger Blough westbound at 5:20PM.

Visitors –

Jim Bricker, Matt, USCG

Total observer hours – 8.0 ( split shift 6:30AM – noon, 4:00PM – 6:30PM)

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 43. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Update on the road and conditions at the point. Thankfully the road down was plowed after this last storm. It shouldn’t be any trouble for vehicles with 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive. Parking is limited at 2-3 vehicles as the entire lot wasn’t plowed. By the afternoon the lot is quite muddy which could be problematic if you happen to park in a soupy spot. Two patches of ice remain on the road and can be slippery both on foot and in a car. A trail to the gazebo has been walked in nicely. Currently your best bet for an approach to the waterbird count is to park at the McGulpin Point Lighthouse ( if you don’t have a solid vehicle for snow and ice) and walk down the road to the parking lot. Care should still be exercised as there are a couple icy spots. Bring winter footwear though as the walk to the gazebo still has over a foot of snow. This is either rock hard in the morning or slushy by afternoon.

The shore ice is rapidly melting away. I still have a significant ice wall blocking about 20 % of my far western view.

5360

Today at the hawk watch  we had a great day with 5360 RED-TAILED HAWKS !! Also  1 Northern Goshawk and 16 Rough_legged Hawks  and at least 10 dark-morph Red-tails and 21 Bald Eagles. Tomorrow wind look to be good so more,more,more!

More to come!

Today we had 353 Red-tailed Hawks and 6 Rough-legged Hawks and 2 immature Golden Eagles. The weather has held the flight for the last few days and with nicer weather  predicted there could be alot of birds in the pipeline!

April 18th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

35cm of snow has fallen at McGulpin Point since the last count on April 14th. In places the drifts are even deeper. Just before dawn winds were out of the north at 12-19kph. Temperatures started off at -1.1C but climbed to above freezing by 9:30. Significant cloud cover for most of the day, but by 2:00PM the winds kicked up a little more to 20-28kph out of the NE and the straits cleared out quickly. The barometer climbed steadily through the count. Despite the cloud cover visibility was excellent with heat shimmer not becoming an issue until the last hour of the count. Light wave action at 1 foot.

Waterbird Notes –

Slow flight today despite it being the first decent day after a 3 day snowstorm impacted the area. RBME led the flight with LTDU nearly edging them out. COME are slowly increasing in numbers. Leonard Graf spotted the first two COLO of the day around 8:00AM. One was heading west and the other was returning south. I spotted another COLO at 9:16 on a similar flight path as the first one headed to the west over Gros Cap.

Non- waterbird Notes –

Raptors were on the move despite a late start. The firs TUVU tried to slip by headed west along the shoreline over the gazebo. They continued to trickle through, but the big numbers started to cross between noon and 2:00PM. One flock of 6 and another of 16. A RTHA was spotted returning from the west and headed back east over the gazebo looking for the proper place to cross. SACR were spotted over the northern side of the straits over Gros Cap. 2 resident SACR are making regular commutes south across the straits late in the count now.  Slow day for the forest birds as they recover from the storm.

Wildlife-

RESQ appears to have eaten all of the suet. He now feels comfortable barking orders and it seems McGulpin Point may have a “problem squirrel “. Like they say in Alaska, a fed squirrel is a dead squirrel. This situation will be monitored and I may need to borrow some pepper spray from the Bricker’s if this squirrel becomes more aggressive. About 7 White-tailed Deer were spotted above the lighthouse when I was leaving. I noticed tracks behind the gazebo too.

Freighters-

Stewart J. Cort westbound at 9:24. This ship helped me get all the LTDU detections as well as bump some WWSC. A tug General was out in the straits at 9:30 and was still there when I finished the count today. I was told by the Coast Guard this was part of the crew inspecting every one of the 5 lines that crosses the straits.

Visitors –

Leonard Graf joined me in the morning for 1.5 hours. He helped add some COLO to the count today. The Coast Guard was down again today and worker from a natural gas company. Evidently there is some excavating that will be going on just up the beach from me in the near future.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 38. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

I am no longer able to insert photos into the days blog posts so images will not be a part of the daily blog posts going forward.