Hawk Count and Other Goodies-September 18th-22nd

Raptors:  The forecast was incorrect for most of the last 5 days, but the raptor migration has continued to be great, with nearly 800 raptors in the last 5 days.

September 18th:  Rather than having moderate NE winds, it was variable winds to light to west winds.  Raptors remained good though, with 175 tallied.  The biggest highlight was a rather early subadult Golden Eagle.  The bird circled with some vultures for a short period before crossing the straits.  Six additional species of raptors met or exceeded their peaks for the season.  They were: Osprey-3, Northern Harrier-8, Red-tailed Hawk-7, American Kestrel-22, Merlin-1, and Peregrine Falcon-2.  Four Northern Harriers came high together which was pretty neat.  Also, every Broad-winged Hawk crossed (18), as well as 17 of the 24 Vultures.

September 19th: The winds ended up being easterly the entire day which led to a similar day as the previous, but with less numbers and species.  Fifty-six Sharpies and 6 Northern Harriers were the standouts.

September 20th: The rain hit early in the day, although a lone Merlin crossed the straits before the rain started coming down hard.

September 21st: Extremely strong winds exceeding 50 mph at times led to no count being conducted.

September 22nd:  The best day of the period and the season.  In fact, today more than doubled our previous daily season high (of 225 raptors).  A total of 501 raptors were recorded today, with the period between 10 and 11 best.  A total of 165 raptors were recorded this hour alone, which would make this the 7th best day of the season, if that was all there was to the count today.  The winds were very light during this hour and 99 Turkey Vultures, 43 Bald Eagles, 6 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 16 Broad-winged Hawks, and 1 Red-tailed Hawk all took advantage and all crossed the straits.  Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures remained strong for the next few hours, before Sharp-shinned Hawks took over the flight for most of the rest of the day.  Sprinkled in the flight were 2 rather early Rough-legged Hawks.  One was a light morph juvenile, while the other was a light morph adult female.  Four additional raptors exceeded their previous season peaks.  They were: 178 Turkey Vultures, 119 Bald Eagles, 122 Sharp-shinned Hawks, and 17 Red-tailed Hawks.  Most raptors crossed today, including 140 of the Turkey Vultures, all but 3 Red-taileds, and all Bald Eagles (except locals).  Overall, an excellent day of migration.

Golden Eagle on the 18th

Rough-legged Hawk today (the 22nd)

One of many Bald Eagles today

Red-taileds had their first push today, with 18 birds

Non-raptors: 

September 18th: The best day of the period with many flocks of Canada Geese, resulting in a day total of 738.  Mixed in with these flocks were 1 Snow Goose, 1 Snow/Ross’s Goose, as well as a group of 3 Snow Geese by themselves.  Sandhill Cranes made their first big push of the season, with 196 recorded.  Other highlights included American Golden-Plover-4, Semipalmated Plover-1, Least Sandpiper-2, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-1, Red-bellied Woodpecker-1, Eastern Wood-Pewee-1, Blue Jay-112, and the first Horned Larks (2), American Pipit (2), and Lapland Longspur (1) of the season.

September 19th: Highlights included American Golden-Plover-1, Least Sandpiper-1, Solitary Sandpiper-1, Lesser Yellowlegs-2, Eastern Bluebird-1, American Pipit-16, and Rusty Blackbird-44

September 20th: The day’s few highlights at the count site included an American Golden-Plover and a Semipalmated Plover.

September 22nd:  Highlights included Canada Goose-499, Snow/Ross’s Goose-1, Redhead-77, Red-throated Loon-2, Common Loon-9, Sandhill Crane-39, American Golden-Plover-7, Greater Yellowlegs-1, Lesser Yellowlegs-1, Blue Jay-162, and American Pipit-14.

This Pileated Woodpecker flew around in circles for a few minutes at the count site, providing excellent views

Pileated Woodpecker

Snow Geese

A lone American Golden-Plover has occasionally been on the ground

Most American Golden-Plovers have been fly-bys though

Monarchs: Smallish numbers continue with the best days being 38 on the 18th and 26 on the 22nd.

Bonus: On the evening of the 18th, Kyle and I headed to Point Iroquois.  Highlights included over 300 Canada Geese, 1 Cackling Goose, and 1 Red-throated Loon.

In the rain on the 20th, Steve and I had a rather great day of birding in the eastern U.P. from SW of Rudyard to Munuscong WMA to Cedarville.  The best of the day was 11 shorebird species, including a Hudsonian Godwit (which also called).  Other highlights included Snow Geese-3, Canada Geese-600+, most dabbling ducks, American Pipits-300+, Lapland Longspur-5+, Barred Owl-1 probable, American Bittern-1, Black-crowned Night-Heron-1, Virginia Rail-1, Sora-1, American Golden-Plover-11, Black-bellied Plover-2, Rusty Blackbird-8 in the surprising location of a field on Hantz, Sandhill Crane-700+, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler eating bugs while hopping from one lily pad to another.

In the wind on the 21st, Jessica and I went to Cheboygan State Park.  At least 6 Ruffed Grouse were the only noteworthy birds, but the wind made things rather interesting.  At least 4 trees fell down when we were walking the woods, and we were able to watch as Cedar Trees were literally being uprooted.  I hope to post that video here eventually.

An Osprey over town today was the last ‘other’ of interest of the period.

Snow Geese have been surprisingly regular lately