Eared Grebe continues! (still here as of 4/23)

4/20: Slow morning, with light winds tamping down migration. White-winged scoters and cormorants appeared to be the only waterbird species on the move, with large rafts of several hundred long-tails and red-breasted mergs waiting on the water’s surface a few miles out. Flickers again made a big Northward push, with 49 making the journey, and at least five more waiting by 11:15. Decent raptor movement but not as much as yesterday. 

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55180812

The evening count was also relatively uneventful, but was highlighted by the reappearance of yesterday’s eared grebe, still associating with the buffleheads but this time just a bit closer, allowing slightly better phone-scoped photos. Six pintails and three ring-necks showed up to loaf right around sunset.

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55192922

4/21: Water smooth as glass all morning, with very little movement as a result. Two flyby white-winged scoter flocks, and a flyby redhead flock (though this group flew towards Mackinaw City and hence seemed semi-local). By far the biggest volume was among a massive group of loafing long-tailed ducks, which was stretched out in small groups along the full length of the straits, from below the bridge to up West of St. Helena. In one sweep I conservatively notched 940 individuals, but there were likely at least another 300 more, as I saw about this many in flight after being flushed by a passing ship, but couldn’t be 100% certain they came from behind the heat shimmer line. Red-breasted mergs in decent numbers—also almost entirely loafing—and a handful of grebes, with two red-neckeds and five horneds, one of which was calling.

Male Wood Duck, McGulpin

Scattered Northward flights among passerines and other small birds, but nothing like the past few days. 

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55211049

Evening count started well, with good raptor movement: a sharpie, a harrier, four turkey vultures, and an osprey headed East on warm afternoon winds, with five sandhills headed North as well. Activity slowed from then on, as a low bank of dark clouds rolled in, but I had nice close views of a preening pied-billed grebe, with its neighbor calling once more from the dense vegetation. A big flock of green-winged teals was also present, with 21 males and only 1 female; they were very skittish, and would take off at the slightest sign of danger, so I suspect they’ll move tomorrow. Late on in the evening, a male harrier came winging by along the shore, and I spotted a female kestrel perched on a tamarack about a mile distant while counting blackbirds, so there are raptors waiting in the wings for good winds tomorrow!

Pied-billed grebe, Trails End Bay Marsh

Yet again, though, the star of the show was the eared grebe, now here for its third night, seen diving and loafing with the same bufflehead flock in the usual spot. Hoping it sticks around! 

4/22: Decent morning, with a steady Easterly breeze that seemed to be aiding flights. The big long-tail raft from yesterday was slowly moving East, with most taking short flights of a half-mile or so before landing and loafing again (was careful to avoid recounts here). A couple white-winged scoter groups, five loons, a green-winged teal pair, a scaup pair, and a lone hoodie were also moving through, and there were notable movements of both other merg species that seemed to constitute migration. Raptor numbers were low but the species diversity represented gave a good idea of what was to come for the hawk-watchers, with a turkey vulture, three harriers, five sharpies, a red-tail, and a rough-leg. Highlight of the day was the arrival of the year’s first Bonaparte’s gulls, seen flying West at a distance of a mile or so. 

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55278688

Between counts I took a long walk in Wilderness SP, and turned up FOY fox sparrow, pine warbler, and purple finch, as well as abundant white-throated sparrows, drumming woodpeckers, calling hawks, and a blue-winged teal pair!

A great night at the marshes, with pleasant sunshine and light breezes bringing in lots of new Spring sights and sounds! Notable highlights were the arrival of a FOY Caspian tern, a calling American Bittern (FOY), a pair of calling pied-billed grebes, two active Canada goose nests, three great egrets briefly hunting in the marsh, and a bugling sandhill crane pair that came in to land (may try to nest). Eared grebe continued with bufflehead flock, and a male wigeon and nine green-winged teal were loafing with the usual mallards.

A successful hunt.
Sunset, Trails End Bay Marsh

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55279963