Foggy fallouts, eared grebe continues

4/23 Bumper morning, as dawn fog caused fallouts among early fliers, many of which ended up loafing relatively close in the straits. For the first time, movements were strong among all waterfowl groups, with multiple dabbler species, several bay ducks, and loons and grebes moving in the double figures. Nearly all were headed West, with the dabblers moving earliest after a brief lift in the fog, followed by a series of loons and Aythya flocks, and ending with a rise in grebe movement near the end of the morning, when the wind was strongest. Big numbers especially among wigeon (83), mallard (64), and ring-necked duck (63), including a single-species raft of around 30 ring-necks.

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White-throated Sparrow, Wilderness SP

Many of the dabblers from the morning count likely ended up as part of a large loafing assembly seen at the evening count, with 30 mallards, 26 shovelers, 42 wigeon, 9 gadwall, 6 blue-winged teal, and 7 green-winged teal feeding frantically in a sheltered area to the West. Presented a real problem for counting, as many were obscured by vegetation, and I was racing the Sun setting directly behind them, but managed to find a good viewing location a bit up the road. The local calling marsh birds (woodcock, bittern, pied-billed grebe, sandhill), were all silent tonight, surely due to the wicked Northwest wind that was battering the marsh. No doubt this was the reason for the fallout, as well. 

The eared grebe put in an appearance for the fifth night in a row, and seems very content with its neighboring bufflehead flock. Sole Caspian tern flying West at sunset, and about 80% of the dabbler flock flew West around this time as well, though I would bet they settled in either Cecil Bay or somewhere off Wilderness SP that was more sheltered than Trails End Bay tonight. 

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4/24: Pretty slow morning, with only a smattering of ducks besides a large raft of long-tails out towards the UP. The big movers today were loons (76)—nearly all headed West—flickers (100), and sandhill cranes (54), plus the very beginnings of what would be a massive broad-wing day at the hawk watch, as a group of raptors and cranes was seen flying North alongside the bridge right at the end of the count.

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Evening count saw the marsh really come alive with resident breeders: bittern, sandhill crane, and pied-billed grebe were calling, and both woodcock and snipe (FOY) were doing their displays. Large groups of buffleheads continue, and were joined yet again by the little eared grebe, still seeming perfectly healthy and diving regularly. Five Bonaparte’s gulls were probably the only migrants on the night, headed West at the start of the count. 

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4/25: Very slow morning, with almost nothing moving apart from a smattering of loons and white-winged scoters. Bonaparte’s gulls were the only migrants in large numbers, with a total of 60 headed West over the five hours. FOY pine warbler sang once from the hillside, and FOY barn swallow flew past.

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Evening foggy and rainy, but the usual species were present, with a new high count for buffleheads (72). Notably, in these later stages of migration, the balance is way more heavily female, with a ratio of 25m:47f, the opposite of that earlier in the season. More female common mergs were present as well. Two great blue herons, calling pied-billeds, woodcock, and snipe (bittern silent tonight), and the still-continuing eared grebe, plus a couple loons and a horned grebe further out in the fog. Single Caspian tern flyby. 

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