Monthly Archives: September 2018

Waterbird Count 9/18-9/20

On the 18th, things with wings of all categories were on the move, waterbirds, raptors, and the highest count of Monarch Butterflies I’ve had in a few weeks now.  The 19th was not as productive as the 18th, and today, a rainy and foggy day, even less so.  Friday afternoon into Saturday the winds are predicted to come from the northwest, so on Saturday morning there might be a good number of birds to count.

Here are the migrants counted from McGulpin Point in the past 3 days…

9/18

Snow Goose – 1 (First of season)

Canada Goose – 63

Mute Swan – 2

Gadwall – 4

White-winged Scoter – 8

Common Merganser – 1 (Plus the local family of 5 are still around)

Red-breasted Merganser – 3

Common Loon – 21

Double-crested Cormorant – 65

Turkey Vulture – 1

Osprey – 3

Northern Harrier – 5

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 23

Cooper’s Hawk – 2

Bald Eagle – 16 (9 immature & 7 adult)

Broad-winged Hawk – 2

Unidentified Eagle – 4

Sandhill Crane – 66

Ring-billed Gull – 6

Herring Gull – 3

American Kestrel – 1

Merlin – 4

Unidentified Falcon – 1

Unidentified Raptor – 10

American Pipit – 1

Monarch Butterfly – 20

list via eBird.

9/19

Canada Goose – 46

Teal sp. – 1

Aythya sp. – 2

Red-breasted Merganser – 6

duck sp. – 2

Common Loon – 9

loon sp. – 1

Double-crested Cormorant – 121

Turkey Vulture – 2

Ring-billed Gull – 28

Herring Gull – 3

Merlin – 1

American Pipit – 5

list via eBird.

9/20

Mallard – 4

Common Merganser – 17 (plus local family of 5)

Double-crested Cormorant – 45

peep sp. – 1

Ring-billed Gull – 40

Herring Gull – 2

Peregrine Falcon – 1

list via eBird.

Another saw whet season begins

Greetings all!

My name is Maycee and I’ll be the owl bander on Point la Barbe for MSRW this fall. It’s been a long haul from my natal homeland of northern California to get here, and boy am I so, so excited to experience all the new sights and critters of the upper peninsula!

The weather at the station will be rather wet and cruddy till Friday night, but then Ed and I can start to run the nets in earnest and hopefully catch some early migrating saw whet owls. And hoo knows, perhaps we’ll nab a long-eared owl or barred owl passing through.

Since arriving on the 18th, I’ve been having much fun poking around the blooming plants. The goldenrod, in particular, is teaming with a menagerie of pollinators. I’ve already tallied 15 unfamiliar species of moths, flies, wasps, and bees.  I’m looking forward to identifying the insects and spiders!

Until next time! Take care.

This one was very busy, shoving her way past flies and bees to get at the best nectaries.

 

 

Her orange fluff is a handsome touch.

Vespid wasps are generally docile when going about their business outside of the nest. She toddled onto my hand before taking off.

Hawk Count-September 15th-17th

Raptors:  Raptors have continued to be steady these past 3 days.  Hardly any wind on the 15th and 16th resulted in nearly every raptor being high, while the moderate SW winds today resulted in nearly every raptor low.

The 15th had another nice day of diversity, with 10 raptor species recorded.  The bulk of these were Sharp-shinned Hawks (80) and Broad-winged Hawks (56).  All 3 falcon species were recorded, as well as 2 Osprey and a Northern Harrier.  Forty-five of the 56 Broad-wingeds crossed, as well as 8 of the 10 Turkey Vultures.

The 16th was similar to the 15th, although the Bald Eagle count was higher with 24 on the former and on the latter date.  Twenty Broad-wingeds crossed, as well as 16 of the 22 Turkey Vultures.

Today was mostly Sharpies attempting to cross (perhaps 2/3 unsuccessfully) before eventually heading east.  A brief pulse between 2:00 and 2:15 of 8 American Kestrels was just a tease before they quickly tapered off.

Non-raptors:  Highlights the past few days have included Green-winged Teal, Solitary Sandpiper, at least 14 warbler speciesPectoral Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Common Nighthawk, American Golden-Plover, American Wigeon, Redhead, Rock Pigeon, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a probable Yellow-throated Vireo, and an increase in Blue Jays.

A pair of Parulas

Common Nighthawk

Best of the next 5 days:  While the next 5 days should be a nice stretch of raptor migration, it’s not as good or straightforward as it was just a few days ago.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, should be a great day, and the day most likely to be the best of the next 5, with hundreds of raptors likely moving throughWednesday and Friday are too tough to tell what will happen right now, but a couple hundred raptors should move through on each day, particularly on Wednesday.  Thursday looks like rain all day and Saturday should see a result similar to the last 3 days, or slightly better.

Waterbird Count 9/17/2018 – Prequel of tomorrow?

Birds were moving today, and the winds still aren’t from the north like they are predicted to be starting tonight.  Based on how many birds were found today, tomorrow, as well as some of the other days this week might have the highest counts of this season so far.

Here are today’s totals…

Canada Goose – 5

Mallard – 3

Blue-winged Teal – 1

Greater Scaup – 8 (First of season)

Common Merganser – 15

Red-breasted Merganser – 23

duck sp. – 19

Common Loon – 31 (highest of season so far)

Double-crested Cormorant – 333 (This is the number I’m using at least as I did not want to over-count them.  See the eBird list for details.)

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3

Bald Eagle – 2 migrating adult (plus 2 resident adult and 1 immature adult)

Ring-billed Gull – 44

American Kestrel – 4 (all female)

Merlin – 1

Monarch Butterfly – 4

Today’s list via eBird.

Waterbird Count 9/14 & 9/15

Not many birds were seen from McGulpin Point in the past 2 days that I would say were definitely migrating.  There have been a decent amount of warblers (especially Yellow-rumped), and other passerines moving around the woods south of McGulpin Point, but from this angle it’s hard to tell which ones are really on the move.

The migrants counted on the 14th were: 9 Canada Geese, 1 Common Loon, 251 Double-crested Cormorants including a single southbound flock of 145, 1 Least Sandpiper, and 3 Ring-billed Gulls.

eBird list 9/14/2018

Migrants counted on the 15th were: 5 Canada Geese, 5 Common Mergansers, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Common Loons, 115 Double-crested Cormorants, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 adult Bald Eagle, 1 American Kestrel, and 1 Merlin.

Additional birds were seen resting on the water like the local family of Common Mergansers that have still been around, 2 Common Loons, and 1 Red-necked Grebe.  2 Pine Siskins and 2 Purple Finches were seen flying past yesterday, and all the birds found can be viewed on this complete eBird list.

The wind is predicted to become more northerly on Monday night and stay that way for at least the following 2 days.  This should hopefully bring a lot of birds to the Straits area with lot’s of counting to be done.

Hawk Count and Woodpeckers-September 12th-14th

Raptors:  Raptors have been rather good the last 2 days and slowish on the 12th.  Highlights on the 12th included a lone Osprey, and a Peregrine Falcon that remained in the general area for most of the day, including making a really nice pass over the count site.

Yesterday’s 202 raptors were dominated by 4 species: 58 Turkey Vultures, 21 Bald Eagles, 87 Sharp-shinned Hawks, and 26 Broad-winged Hawks.  Of the 58 Vultures, 38 crossed the straits, while just 2 Broad-winged Hawks made the crossing.  A total of 9 American Kestrels was the second best day this season, and the last three days have seen them start to pick up.

Today’s flight of 190 birds was dominated by 3 species, all of which have seen their best days so far this season.  Sharp-shinned Hawks reached triple digits for the first time, with 108 recorded.  Broad-wingeds had their best showing thus far with 48 birds, and 13 American Kestrels was rather nice to see.  A single Northern Harrier was the first in 12 days, but hopefully they will start picking up when the weather finally shifts.

Up to half of the Sharpies crossed the lake today, mostly before the wind started to ‘pick up’, (from no wind, that is) while most of the rest flew towards the east side of the point.  Relatively few (6-8) appeared to linger around the point.  Broad-winged Hawks remained off to the north and northeast throughout the day, building their lone kettle most hours until around 2:00.  No attempt at crossing was made.  American Kestrels frequented the telephone wires for most of the day.  A few would be on the wires briefly before deciding to make the crossing some time later.  Shortly after they crossed, a few more would replenish those that had left on the wires.  Most of the time it was 2 birds, but up to 4 were seen simultaneously.  All combinations were seen on the wires at some point (male-male, female-female, and male-female).  A few successfully caught dragonflies as well.

The Peregrine that passed over the count site

The lone Osprey on the 12th

One of the Kestrels that caught a (presumed) dragonfly

Non-raptors: Woodpeckers have been the highlights of the past few days.  A Red-headed Woodpecker today, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the 12th are both relatively rare species in the U.P., especially the former.  Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Northern Flicker have all been seen the last few days, making for 6 species of woodpeckers, and a new fall goal: to see all of the annual woodpeckers in Michigan in one season at one site.  Only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Black-backed Woodpecker remain to be seen this season.  Yellow-bellied should be relatively easy, while Black-backed should be relatively hard.

Other highlights the past few days include Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, an Eastern Bluebird, and a continued finch flight, dominated by American Goldfinches.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (with Blue Jay)

Monarchs:  Just 24 the past 3 days.

Best of the next 5 days:  The weather pattern of light, southerly winds is finally coming to an end in the near future.  The next 3 days looks like more of the same weather (light southerly winds, mostly sunny), which is likely to see results most similar to today and yesterday.  In fact, more birds may actually be seen, as the forecast appears to be 10-30% cloud cover on each day (which makes spotting high raptors easier) versus the very unusual (for the area) 5 day stretch of nearly cloudless skies.

As good as the past few days have been, and are likely to continue to be good for the next 3 days, Tuesday is likely to be the start of one of the best stretches of hawk migration of the season.  Wednesday currently looks like it’ll be one of the best days of the season, with one of the best Sharpie and Broad-winged days likely (Sharpies-hundreds, Broad-wingeds-dozens to possibly hundreds).  Beyond that looks like more northerly winds, so hopefully this forecast remains true.  If it does, we should have 3,000+ raptors the second half of September.

Waterbird Count September 11th-13th.

Wednesday had the highest count of Common Loons for a day this season so far.  The winds have predominately been southerly lately though making for some slow days.  Today came from the northeast for a while, and I noticed a good number of vultures and eagles flying south over McGulpin Point.

Counts of migrants are below.

9/11

Mallard – 2

Red-breasted Merganser – 12

duck sp. – 4

Common Loon – 5

Red-necked Grebe – 13

Double-crested Cormorant – 90

Bald Eagle – 1 (plus 3 resident, all adult)

peep sp. – 1

Ring-billed Gull – 18

Herring Gull – 1

Merlin – 1

eBird list

9/12

American Black Duck – 1 (first of season)

Mallard – 4

Red-breasted Merganser – 4

Common Loon – 28

Red-necked Grebe – 9

Double-crested Cormorant – 139

Ring-billed Gull – 17

American Kestrel – 1

Peregrine Falcon – 1

Monarch Butterfly – 1

eBird list

9/13

Common Merganser – 2

Red-breasted Merganser – 4

Common Loon – 5

Double-crested Cormorant – 78

Turkey Vulture – 25

Bald Eagle – 8

eBird list

Hawk Count and Western Kingbird-September 11th

Raptors:  It was a decent day for raptors, with Sharp-shinned Hawks saving the count.  49 of the 55 raptors were Sharpies.  A fair amount of Sharpies were milling around during the last hour of the count, so there may be a nice, small push of them early tomorrow morning, and a good day for them overall.

The day’s lone migrant Bald Eagle

Non-raptors:  A Western Kingbird was undoubtedly the day’s, and one of the season’s, highlights.  The bird was initially detected when it gave a few ‘kip’ calls, and was subsequently seen flying east across the open area in front of the hawk counting site.  The bird briefly perched on a cedar before flying further east to a spruce, then another spruce, and then out of sight to the east.  Sadly, this entire encounter only lasted 4 minutes before the bird was never seen again.

Ten Common Loons was the most seen so far this season, as was 27 Blue Jays.  Other notables included an American Golden-Plover, Least Sandpiper, and 89 American Goldfinches.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Monarchs:  Just 3 were detected.

Best of the next 5 days:  The weather continues to look similar for the next 5 days, making the better days harder to predict.  Sharpies should be consistent throughout the period, possibly picking up on some days, and Bald Eagles are likely to push through on some of these days as well.

Hawk Count-September 2nd through 10th

Thanks to Ed and Steve for covering for me, while I was downstate for several days.

Raptors:  Raptors have been fairly good for the first third of September and rather great the last 2 days, considering the east winds.  Most noteworthy were 122 raptors on the 2nd, 225 raptors on the 9th, and 119 raptors today.  The 1,000th raptor of the season flew by today.

Yesterday, the 9th, had a rather excellent early season total of 80 Turkey Vultures, while the total of 58 Turkey Vultures on the 2nd, wasn’t too shabby either.  From the twenty-one Vultures tallied on August 30th to the 80 yesterday, this is the earliest I’ve personally seen Turkey Vultures, in numbers, clearly migrating.  Of the 80 yesterday, 41 crossed over the straits at some point during the day, with an additional 39 lingering around the count site.  Of the 39, about half made half-hearted attempts at crossing the straits but eventually came back to the general count site area.  Many vultures were crossing at the western tip of the point and were only visible crossing the straits in the scope.  Broad-winged Hawks have been consistently around 30 most of the past 4 days.  Some of these have crossed as well, mostly before noon.  Sharp-shinned Hawks are just starting their month or more peak period, with 84 yesterday and 57 today.  Interestingly, nearly all have been flying east across the point, directly into the moderate to strong east winds.  Bald Eagles have been steady and American Kestrels had their best day so far on the 8th, with 11 birds.  An Osprey spiced things up today, the first detected in a week.

Broad-winged Hawk

Turkey Vultures

Non-raptors: The 6th was by far the most interesting day, the best of which were 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, an early Rusty Blackbird, a Green Heron, and 3 Rock Pigeons.  14 warbler species were nice this day as well, including 13 Palm.  The other rarity of the period was a lone Dickcissel on the 2nd.

Canada Geese are beginning to migrate, with 180 in the last few days.  A few shorebird species have been flying over most days, the best of which have been a lone American Golden-Plover on the 8th, and Semipalmated Plover and Solitary Sandpiper on the 6th.  Cedar Waxwings had their best day so far on the 2nd, with 271 birds.  Three finch species have been daily, with over 300 American Goldfinches the last several days.

A rather early Rusty Blackbird

Green Heron

Rock Pigeons may be relatively rare at Point LaBarbe

Monarchs: Monarchs have been steadily dwindling, especially the last 4 days.  The biggest day during the period was on the 3rd with 579 Monarchs.  Other notable days included 294 on the 2nd and 246 on the 6th.

Best of the next 5 days:  Mostly SW to SE winds appear to dominate the next 5 days.  Not ideal, but Bald Eagles have been moving in fairly good numbers on these types of days, particularly between 11 and 1.  It’ll be interesting to see if they move consistently on each of these days or pick a few days versus others.

Waterbird Count 9/8-9/10

The winds have been easterly in the past few days, which seems to have put the grebes on hold.  I have noticed more raptor movement from the McGulpin point side in the past few days, this includes large kettles of Turkey Vultures over the U.P. but only a small amount were detected flying across on this side.  The first of season Long-tailed Ducks have now made their appearance.  Also of note, this morning some warblers were seen foraging in the trees by the beach including Pine, Blackburnian, and American Redstart.

Here are the total counts of migrants in the past few days.

9/8

Canada Goose – 69

Long-tailed Duck – 1

Red-breasted Merganser – 3

Common Loon – 2

Red-necked Grebe – 2

Double-crested Cormorant – 57

Turkey Vulture – 10

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1

Bald Eagle – 4  (Resident adult 1, migrating adult 2, migrating immature 1)

Sandhill Crane – 2

Ring-billed Gull – 23

Herring Gull – 4

American Kestrel – 1

Monarch Butterfly – 2

eBird list

9/9

Canada Goose – 144

White-winged Scoter – 2

Red-breasted Merganser – 3

Common Loon – 1

Double-crested Cormorant – 78

Turkey Vulture – 4

Osprey – 1

Bald Eagle – 14  (10 adult & 4 immature)

Spotted Sandpiper – 6

Ring-billed Gull – 9

Herring Gull – 3

American Kestrel – 1 (female)

Merlin – 3

Monarch Butterfly – 2

eBird list

9/10

Canada Goose – 9

Long-tailed Duck – 2

Common Loon – 1

Double-crested Cormorant – 81

Turkey Vulture – 3

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5

Bald Eagle – 6  (3 adult, 3 immature)

shorebird sp. – 1

Ring-billed Gull – 28

Herring Gull – 2

Merlin – 1

Peregrine Falcon – 1

eBird list