Author Archives: Jason Newton

Hawk Watch, June 4

Heavy fog and misting rain delayed the count all morning. It finally cleared around 1:00 PM and I got in an hour of watching before misting rain started again and reduced visibility. Unfortunately, no hawks moved by in that time. Tomorrow is the last day of the count for this season and the weather looks much more reasonable.

Hawk Watch, June 3

The Broad-wingeds continue to trickle in. It was pretty nice today despite a fairly strong east wind all day. Interestingly, it was the Turkey Vultures who hesitated to cross the Straits rather than Broad-wingeds. Thankfully, all the raptors crossed eventually. Hard to say how tomorrow will pan out with a northerly wind.

Turkey Vulture – 52
Bald Eagle – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 126

Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, June 1-2

With just a few days left of the count, there are still a handful of birds moving through. June 1 started quite nice but unexpected afternoon rain shut the modest movement down. Today was supposed to be west winds all day but instead it was northeasterly until late afternoon. This was a nice change of pace since the previous few days of west winds had been pushing birds way to the east side of Mackinaw City, mostly out of my view. Today the raptors were often right over head.

June 1
Turkey Vulture – 11
Broad-winged Hawk – 53
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

June 2
Turkey Vulture – 39
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 177
Red-tailed Hawk – 5
Merlin – 1

Hawk Watch, May 31

Unfortunately movement never picked up after the morning rain had stopped. I only managed a total of 2 Turkey Vultures. It’s really a shame because in the final days of the count, we can’t afford days like these if we want to improve our season totals. Tomorrow seems like it could be a decent day, hopefully the moderately strong winds don’t hurt the movement too much.

Turkey Vulture – 2

Hawk Count, May 30

As was the case yesterday, strong SW winds were not my friend. Raptors were seemingly being pushed to the eastern shoreline and that likely means many did not come into my view. Those that did were already very high and often drifting a bit southward from the northeast, creating a complicated counting situation. There was still a reasonably nice showing of raptors but not what I would have hoped from south winds. There have been a few big pushes of Broad-winged Hawks at a downstate hawkwatch recently, so I think there is still hope for us. Although tomorrow looks grim with rain in the forecast.

Turkey Vulture – 33
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 100
Red-tailed Hawk – 4

Hawk Watch, May 29

Today started with a bang but sadly fizzled out rather quick. The first hour had 229 Broad-winged Hawks go north, but this momentum died by 11:00 AM when it rained for about an hour. After the rain stopped, the only hawks that could be found were seen extremely high to the northeast, barely visible with binoculars and essentially invisible unless they were in front of a cloud. The gusty SW winds seemingly pushed all the birds to the lake shore and none were coming over my head. I can only imagine how many birds passed me by like this, given the good wind conditions. I’m hoping the raptors don’t repeat this again tomorrow, as the wind direction and speed is similar.

In the waterbird department, I once again saw decent sized flocks of migrant Canada Geese. Much less than yesterday, I still had around 130 geese migrating north.

Turkey Vulture – 52
Bald Eagle – 3
Broad-winged Hawk – 340
Red-tailed Hawk – 8
Merlin – 1

Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, May 28

Today felt more like a waterbird count than a hawk count. In the 5 hrs of counting I managed before it started raining, 991 Canada Geese flew over migrating north. I found this movement to be quite unusual for late May. I’m not sure what these geese are thinking. Perhaps they are nonbreeders moving together to a different summering ground, or perhaps these geese are still intending to attempt breeding. Other waterbirds included two Great Egrets flying southwest, two Great Blue Herons, a Common Merganser, and a Caspian Tern.

Hawk movement was pretty subdued, probably due to the impending rain. Most notable bird was a Northern Harrier. Another highlight was the local Merlin pair flying over calling. Tomorrow looks pretty good with the rather uncommon wind direction of WSW.

Turkey Vulture – 4
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 89
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Hawk Watch, May 27

Today was the warmest day I’ve ever experienced in Mackinaw City, as far as I can recall. It was in the 70s most of the day with a light breeze. These conditions managed to produce the second best Broad-winged Hawk day of the season, thus far. It was relieving to see that there are still birds on the move. In past years, the hawk watch has had multiple day of 1000+ Broad-winged Hawks, but I have yet to break 1000 in a day.

Turkey Vulture – 48
Bald Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 568
Red-tailed Hawk – 13

Hawk Watch, May 24-26

May 24 and 25 were essentially rained out, but a few hours during clear periods netted some birds. May 26 was the first nice day in a while. There was also finally westerly winds. The movement wasn’t all that impressive in the end, but it was the best day since May 15. The forecast through the end of the count has a few days of potential rain, but hopefully the remaining nice days will fill out our low Broad-winged numbers.

The Killdeer nest that was at our primary hawkwatch site hatched either before or on May 22 and the entire family has left the area now.

May 24
Turkey Vulture – 1

May 25
Turkey Vulture – 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

May 26
Turkey Vulture – 45
Bald Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Broad-winged Hawk – 370
Red-tailed Hawk – 19

American White Pelican – 2

Hawk Watch, May 21-23

After 2 days of being rained around, I thought migrants might be bottled up and ready to move on Tuesday (May 23). Unfortunately, there was an immense fog  throughout the morning. It finally cleared around 12:30 and a modest number of birds passed by. The variety was pretty nice for this late in the season, including a Cooper’s Hawk.

May 21
Turkey Vulture – 2

May 22
Rained out

May 23
Turkey Vulture – 11
Osprey – 2
Bald Eagle – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 53
Red-tailed Hawk – 5

Hawk Watch, May 20

An abysmally slow day thanks to strong, easterly winds suppressing movement. Tomorrow looks like it may be the same, except with possible rain in the mix.

Turkey Vulture – 7
Bald Eagle – 4
Broad-winged Hawk – 17
Red-tailed Hawk – 5

Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, May 19

Birds were flying incredibly high in today’s clear blue sky. It was a struggle to find them and keep track of them. Thankfully, these birds were largely crossing the straits without fuss. There was a relatively good movement of Broad-wingeds, but we have still not achieved the numbers we should have had by now. Tomorrow has strong, easterly winds in store….

Highlights: A single American White Pelican and 2 local Peregrine Falcons hunting together.

Turkey Vulture – 39
Bald Eagle – 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Broad-winged Hawk – 329
Red-tailed Hawk – 31

Hawk Watch, May 18

Rain plagued the count today and I only managed a short watch in the morning and then again in the afternoon. A few birds came by in that time, at least. Most notable was a Peregrine Falcon flying north as I pulled in to start watching again after the rain subsided. Also of note was a Northern Mockingbird hanging around in the morning at our main watch site, behind the Recreation Center. Coincidentally, two days ago there were two Northern Mockingbirds at our other site in Darrow’s field.

Turkey Vulture – 2
Broad-winged Hawk – 17
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Hawk Watch, May 17

The Broad-winged Hawks keep trickling in. The weather was quite nice, but the wind was predominantly north. There was a nice push of around 200 Broad-wingeds between 12:00pm and 2:00pm, but besides that it was fairly slow.

Turkey Vulture – 48
Osprey – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 8
Broad-winged Hawk – 239
Red-tailed Hawk – 9

Common Loon – 2

Hawk Watch, May 16

Despite owl banding and the waterbird count coming to an end, the hawk watch continues on until June 5. Today had some dramatic shifts in weather. I went from 3 coats to no coats to 1 coat throughout the day. The pressure dropped fairly dramatically and it also rained briefly. How this affected migration — I don’t know. There was a fairly small movement but some nice kettles accumulated since most of the birds came through in a short time frame. The most notable highlight was the two Northern Mockingbirds that were hanging out throughout the afternoon near the hawk watch.

Turkey Vulture – 36
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Broad-winged Hawk – 99
Red-tailed Hawk – 11

Hawk Watch, May 15

Throughout the morning it looked as though it was going to be a moderately slow but okay day for migration. Sometime around 1:00 PM, something changed and a nice push of raptors come through for several hours. Movement continued until 6:00 PM which is a bit later than typical. Broad-winged Hawks were the predominant species, with a good showing of Turkey Vultures as well. Late in the afternoon, an immature Golden Eagle passed through. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of this species for the season.

Turkey Vulture – 107
Bald Eagle – 5
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 17
Broad-winged Hawk – 420
Red-tailed Hawk – 56
Golden Eagle – 1

Common Loon – 1
Sandhill Crane – 10

Hawk Watch, May 14

Today very narrowly avoided being my lowest raptor count of the season. The weather was nice, but there was a gusty NW wind. I suspect the wind was a big factor in the suppressed migration. In the end, I managed 28 birds total.

Turkey Vulture – 18
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Broad-winged Hawk – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Hawk Watch, May 13

I was thinking today could produce a nice movement due to the northwesterly wind direction and nice temperatures. Unfortunately an unexpected rain delayed the count for 2 hours, and things only picked up a little bit after it cleared. A good number of Turkey Vultures and Broad-wingeds passed by, but there were few other raptors.

Tomorrow’s conditions look similar, minus the rain.

Turkey Vulture – 66
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Broad-winged Hawk – 103
Red-tailed Hawk – 9

Hawk Watch, May 12

Birds were flying very high and distant today, mostly invisible to the naked eye. The lift off birds were cooperative and went north pretty quickly, thankfully. Some kettles lingered for long periods of time but sooner or later everybody went north. This is the best outcome I could hope for on a day of easterly winds. It was a surprisingly good Turkey Vulture day and nice variety overall.

Tomorrow’s WNW winds with the recently improved weather could result in a nice movement.

Turkey Vulture – 105
Osprey – 2
Bald Eagle – 3
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 24
Broad-winged Hawk – 329
Red-tailed Hawk – 43
Golden Eagle – 1

Common Loon – 6
Sandhill Crane – 4

Hawk Watch, May 11

Today was the largest movement we’ve had in around two weeks. Despite northeasterly winds, many raptors were crossing the Straits, at least in the first few hours. Towards the afternoon, birds started to hesitate to cross, which resulted in some beautiful, large kettles.

I noted the first immature Broad-winged Hawks of the season today, which migrate a bit later than some of the adults. We are still getting good numbers of Red-tailed Hawks, which should progressively slow down as May goes on. We’re still getting some earlier migrants trickling through like Golden Eagle and Rough-legged Hawk.

Turkey Vulture – 47
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 44
Broad-winged Hawk – 458
Red-tailed Hawk – 73
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 6
Common Loon – 4

Hawk Watch, May 10

There were some raptors moving today but due to easterly winds, they didn’t cross the Straits. Tomorrow’s forecast is unfortunately very similar so it may be more of the same — raptors meandering back and forth for hours. It is a lovely sight, at least.

Turkey Vulture – 14
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 2
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 24
Broad-winged Hawk – 133
Red-tailed Hawk – 17
Golden Eagle – 1

Common Loon – 6

Adult Broad-winged Hawk

Immature Golden Eagle

Hawk Watch, May 9

The dearth of migrants continues. The forecast for the next 10 days does not predict any southerly winds until late May…. This may not matter that much, but it worries me that migration will continue to be depressed until then.  The good news is that it’s only getting warmer from here.

We had a nice variety of species despite low numbers. The highlights being all 3 Accipiter species, 2 falcon species, and a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Turkey Vulture – 8
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 6
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Northern Goshawk – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 44
Red-tailed Hawk – 18
American Kestrel – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Common Loon – 6

Hawk Watch, May 8

Today saw a slight improvement in raptor movement, but not by much. Winds were somewhat calmer and from the WNW. Tomorrow’s westerly winds are even calmer so perhaps that will boost movement more.

Thankfully we are seeing some nice birds despite the low numbers. Golden Eagles have been fairly consistent, with at least 1 most days. Today we had an adult Northern Goshawk, only our third of the season. We also had 2 Rough-legged Hawks today, which will be done migrating before long.

Turkey Vulture – 29
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 19
Northern Goshawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 50
Red-tailed Hawk – 19
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Golden Eagle – 1

Hawk Watch, May 7

Today was a repeat of yesterday — decent conditions but very few birds. The strong winds are likely one of the culprits for the depressed movement. The weather downstate may be another explanation. Perhaps we just need some south winds to finally get a good push of migrants. Tomorrow looks like it may be more of the same, with almost identical conditions as today.

Despite the low numbers, we had a few highlights: 2 Golden Eagles, a Peregrine Falcon flying through really low, and a light morph Rough-legged Hawk that we are fairly sure was the same individual caught and banded by Arthur and Nick a couple miles away while doing diurnal raptor trapping.

Turkey Vulture – 28
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 7
Broad-winged Hawk – 10
Red-tailed Hawk – 11
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Common Loon – 2

Hawk Watch, May 6

Today was mind-boggling slow considering the nice weather. The wind was gusty at times, but averaged a reasonable speed and was from the north which is usually a decent direction for raptors. It was also pretty warm, wind aside. Yet, we only managed 34 birds total….

Tomorrow’s forecast shows similar conditions, but with a northwesterly wind. Hopefully that makes the difference and we’ll actually get some birds.

Turkey Vulture – 9
Bald Eagle – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
Broad-winged Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
Golden Eagle – 1
American Kestrel – 1

Hawk Watch, May 5

Another nice day, but not a lot of birds. It was tough viewing today as birds were going very high in an entirely blue sky. Despite partially east winds, most raptors were crossing the Straits without much hesitation. Tomorrow’s stronger, northwesterly winds might produce a nice movement since that direction is more favorable for crossing the Straits.

Turkey Vulture – 51
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 27
Broad-winged Hawk – 247
Red-tailed Hawk – 8
Golden Eagle – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Sandhill Crane – 5

Hawk Watch, May 4

The weather was quite nice today with calm winds and temps in the 50s. The day started with a good Broad-winged Hawk push in the second hour but the momentum did not carry through the rest of the day. There was still a steady stream of birds throughout the day and a nice variety, at least. It was a decent falcon day for us, with both Peregrines and American Kestrels moving through.

Turkey Vulture – 36
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 45
Broad-winged Hawk – 367
Red-tailed Hawk – 21
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Golden Eagle – 3
American Kestrel – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 2

Sandhill Crane – 10
Common Loon – 32

Hawk Watch, May 2-3

Tuesday, May 2 was rained out. The forecast for Wednesday looked really promising, one of the nicest days in a while. I figured it could be a pretty big movement, as we’ve only had one  fairly large Broad-winged Hawk day so far this spring.

The actual movement was a bit disappointing… but we still had a decent number of Broad-winged Hawks and a nice variety of species. Birds were flying very high and far to the east, so it’s possible that we missed some birds that never came our way. With westerly winds, it’s also possible that many of the raptors island-hopped to Bois Blanc and Mackinac Island rather than crossing near the bridge. Tomorrow looks it will be fairly nice, though with variable winds I’m unsure what to expect. One of these days there will be a big push of Broad-wingeds….

Highlights: 2nd Peregrine Falcon of the season and Northern Waterthrush singing at the hawk watch in the morning.

Turkey Vulture – 44
Osprey – 4
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 50
Broad-winged Hawk – 288
Red-tailed Hawk 78
Golden Eagle – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Sandhill Crane – 13
Common Loon – 9

Hawk Watch, April 29 – May 1

These past three days have been quite slow. Saturday, April 29 was the best of the three with a total of 90 raptors moving through. That was a rather disappointing turn-out for what seemed like it might be a decent day for migration, weather-wise. The forecast for Sunday and Monday predicted a lot of rain. There ended up being a few clear hours on both days where I was able to watch for raptors, but to little success. Sunday produced 8 raptors and Monday produced 0 — my first day of actual counting where I didn’t see any migrants.

April 29
Turkey Vulture – 34
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 9
Broad-winged Hawk – 29
Red-tailed Hawk – 11
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 1
Common Loon – 3

April 30
Turkey Vulture – 6
Bald Eagle – 2

Common Loon – 18

May 1
Nothing

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Hawk Watch, April 28

The most unremarkable day that I’ve had thus far. The forecast seemed promising, but for the first two hours it drizzled with some occasional sleet. Since the chance of precipitation was 0% chance, I figured I should stay and wait it out in case it suddenly cleared. Eventually the precipitation stopped, but no raptors moved. I was optimistically awaiting the sun to come out in the afternoon, as the forecast predicted, but it never did. A few raptors moved throughout the whole day, but very few. The saving grace of today was the season’s first Peregrine Falcon.

Turkey Vulture – 6
Bald Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Sandhill Crane – 1
Common Loon – 13

Hawk Watch, April 27

As mentioned by Josh, the weather was quite beautiful today. Having never been in Mackinaw City in June or July, it is rare for me to be so warm here. It was even nice despite the 20mph southerly wind gusts!

I would have figured with the nice temperature, raptor movement would be pretty good. And it was for the first few hours. I guess the bulk of the movement today was largely lift off birds, because come noon the activity completely died off. I’m unsure why, but perhaps the increasingly high winds were unfavorable.

Thankfully tomorrow will see a break from the east winds. Unfortunately, it will be much less warm as well….

Turkey Vulture – 22
Osprey – 4
Bald Eagle – 3
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 40
Broad-winged Hawk – 227
Red-tailed Hawk – 15
American Kestrel – 1

Sandhill Crane – 5
Common Loon – 4

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Hawk Watch, April 26

After a bit of a rain and fog delay, a nice amount of raptors started moving. The majority of birds appeared to be crossing the Straits, despite an easterly wind. A good assortment of raptors passed by and it ended up being our largest Northern Harrier movement so far this season.

The Killdeer nest at our primary watch site now has 4 eggs, which may mean the mother will start incubating now, or perhaps there are more eggs to come. If only the east winds would stop so I could actually hawk watch from that site and monitor the nest.

Turkey Vulture – 40
Osprey – 3
Bald Eagle – 2
Northern Harrier – 25
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 45
Broad-winged Hawk – 349
Red-tailed Hawk – 21
Rough-legged Hawk – 3
Golden Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 24
Common Loon – 6

Hawk Watch, April 25

Today started off really nice with nearly 300 Broad-winged Hawks lifting off during the first half hour. Most or all of these early morning birds actually crossed the Straits pretty soon afterward — confirmed even further by Steve Baker who was watching from the other side of the Straits at Point LaBarbe. This is a bit atypical for Broad-winged Hawks with an easterly wind, who often hesitant more than other raptors to cross the Straits. The wind may have had a bit of an ESE component  which could have assisted them. After lift off, it was fairly slow all day, but with a consistent trickle of birds moving through.

Highlights: at least 4 Northern Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 65
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 3
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 49
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 423
Red-tailed Hawk – 34
Rough-legged Hawk – 4
Golden Eagle – 1

Hawk Watch, April 24

East winds are usually a hassle for counting raptors — as was the case today. There was a nice amount of Broad-winged Hawks, but it seemed as though very few were crossing the Straits. Instead they were just drifting from north to south and back again for hours. The east winds were also very strong, 10-20 kmph throughout the day. It made what would’ve been a warm day a rather cold day. It was nice to have so many Broad-winged Hawks to look at, at least.

Although we were at Darrow’s field today (due to easterly winds), Steve and I checked on the Killdeer nest at the Recreation Center and, predictably, there were three eggs now. Killdeer typically lay 4-6 eggs before incubation.

Highlights: 3 Golden Eagles in the sky at once, at least 5 Northern Red-tailed Hawks, and the local American Kestrels hunting in front of us all day.

Turkey Vulture – 39
Osprey – 2
Bald Eagle – 3
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 26
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 416
Red-tailed Hawk – 19
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Golden Eagle – 3

Sandhill Crane – 3
Common Loon – 11

Second year Northern Red-tailed Hawk (aged via retained juvenile secondaries and primaries)

Hawk Watch, April 23

The first three hours had very little movement, besides some Turkey Vultures going south. Between 10:00am and 12:00pm it was periodically drizzling, but finally at noon it cleared a bit and birds started moving. It would’ve been pretty nice out if not for a brisk NW wind. The cloud cover started to disperse by 3:00pm and afterward it was pretty nice. Raptors were flying very high, but we still had some nice kettles over our heads a few times. Migrant numbers were fairly low, though a nice amount of Broad-winged Hawks moved through. It was also our best Osprey day of the season.

Also, the Killdeer mother laid her second egg.

Other highlights: at least two Northern Red-tailed Hawks, one dark morph Red-tailed Hawk, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk catching an American Robin.

Turkey Vulture – 44
Osprey – 7
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 11
Red-shouldered – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 192
Red-tailed Hawk – 47
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 2
American Kestrel – 1

Sandhill Crane – 5
Common Loon – 4

Juvenile Northern Red-tailed Hawk

Hawk Watch, April 22

As I had hoped, today was a pretty great day for both raptor movement and weather. It was the first big push of Broad-winged Hawks of the season. It was also our largest Sharp-shinned Hawk day thus far. We also saw a good number of both Bald and Golden Eagles. I missed a Northern Goshawk while using the bathroom, reinforcing that you should never use the bathroom while at the hawk watch.

Aside from the raptors, one of the major highlights was a lone American White Pelican soaring around with the raptors for a little while before heading south west. The Killdeer mother did not lay a second egg while we were there, but it’s likely that she did later in the day.

Other highlights: at least 13 Northern Red-tailed Hawks and 3 dark morph Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 71
Osprey – 3
Bald Eagle – 16
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 57
Northern Goshawk – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 4
Broad-winged Hawk – 792
Red-tailed Hawk – 83
Rough-legged Hawk – 3
Golden Eagle – 4

Sandhill Crane – 25
Common Loon – 1

Juvenile dark morph Red-tailed Hawk

Second-year (due to retained juvenile primaries and secondaries) dark morph Red-tailed Hawk

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk

American White Pelican

Hawk Watch, April 21

Despite my optimism, there was not much movement today. After four days of minimal migration, Saturday looks like it may be a good day. Of course, I think that’s the third time I’ve said something like that this week. The thought is that less-than-ideal weather suppresses migration and birds end up piling up down state awaiting better conditions.

Not many highlights to speak of, but a Killdeer pair decided to make their nest at the hawk watch site and laid their first egg yesterday. It’ll be wonderful to watch the progression of this nest.

Turkey Vulture – 33
Osprey – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 20
Broad-winged Hawk – 10
Red-tailed Hawk – 20

Common Loon – 5

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) nest

Hawk Watch, April 19 and 20

The 19th was the slowest day I’ve had yet this season. I figured it would’ve been pretty decent, but I guess the west winds were too strong. It was actually a better day for waterbirds at the hawk watch than raptors. I had more Common Loons than any raptor species and also had 10 Gadwall and 4 American Wigeon fly by.

April 20th was rained out. Hopefully that means Friday will be productive for migrants.

April 19

Turkey Vulture – 12
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 4

Sandhill Crane – 1
Common Loon – 21

Hawk Watch, April 18

It was a rather unpleasant day with a strong, cold easterly wind. Raptors often hesitate to cross the Straits with easterly winds, and as a result, meander from the hawk watch to the shore and back again throughout the day. This causes difficult counting situations when old birds drift back south and mix with new birds heading north. Numbers were pretty low, but diversity was good.

Highlights: dark morph Red-tailed Hawk and Broad-winged Hawks outnumbering Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 36
Osprey – 3
Bald Eagle – 3
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 14
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 55
Red-tailed Hawk – 20
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 51
Common Loon – 12

Hawk Watch, April 17 — Harlan’s!

It was snowing as I left for the hawk watch in the morning, so the day started out pretty grim. The first few hours were cold and slow. Around noon, the activity started to increase. Raptors came in pretty steady after that, and at 4:00pm, the 100% cloud cover completely cleared to a nice blue sky. This created an influx of migrants later in the day than normal, so I stayed until 6:00pm when the activity stopped. The birds were flying very high all day today, and many times were not visible to the naked eye. The day definitely got progressively better as it went on, especially when around 5:15pm Steve spotted a dark-morph adult Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk coming our way! This is a predominantly western subspecies which breeds in Alaska and winters in the west USA, rarely east of the Mississippi. Although they are annual winter residents in Illinois (where I’m from), our bird represents only the 5th state record for Michigan!

Highlights: Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, at least 2 Northern Red-tailed Hawks, 4 immature Golden Eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk sparring with a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and the male Rusty Blackbird singing near us throughout the day.

Turkey Vulture – 108
Osprey – 4
Bald Eagle – 5
Northern Harrier – 8
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 29
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 31
Red-tailed Hawk – 144
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 4

Sandhill Crane – 22
Common Loon – 3

Dark-morph adult Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis harlani)

Hawk Watch, April 15 and 16

The count was rained out on Saturday, April 15. It looked like April 16 may face the same fate, but thankfully the forecast changed early on in the morning and the rain stopped around 10:00. It was still rather foggy, but a few raptors decided to move. By 2:00 the movement had pretty much stopped and no raptors were actually crossing the Straits. Monday looks pretty promising after two poor weather days and predicted NW winds.

Highlights: 8 Common Loons flying over us together.

Turkey Vulture – 8
Osprey – 2
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 10

Sandhill Crane – 2
Common Loon – 11

Hawk Watch, April 14

Another day of easterly winds provided a frustrating day of counting. Kettles of raptors went back and forth from over our heads to the shore and back again. It is difficult to keep track of new birds when already-counted birds drift back south constantly. Regardless, there was a nice amount of raptors to look at all day, often right over our heads. The weather was also quite pleasant.

In addition, it was the best Sandhill Crane movement that I’ve had this season, with 247 birds. Flocks were still moving through after the raptor movement had died down and I stopped the count.

Highlights: at least 8 Northern Red-tailed Hawks and 6 Broad-winged Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 38
Bald Eagle – 4
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 13
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 6
Red-tailed Hawk – 68
Rough-legged Hawk – 3
American Kestrel – 1

Sandhill Crane – 247
Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, April 13

After the large push of raptors yesterday, today was disappointingly slow. The day started strong with a large among of Turkey Vultures during the first two hours, but by noon movement was nearly dead. As the wind shifted from south to east, we moved to Darrow’s field. Thankfully, there was a good amount of raptors there. However, very few birds were crossing the Straits and many were drifting back southward, so counting was a challenge. Hopefully tomorrow’s east winds don’t result in similar movement as today.

Highlights: 5 Broad-winged Hawks, 1 Golden Eagle, and 3 Northern Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 136
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 15
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Broad-winged Hawk – 5
Red-tailed Hawk – 95
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Golden Eagle – 1
Merlin – 1

Sandhill Crane – 4

Adult Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Adult Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Hawk Watch, April 12

Today was a great day to be at the hawk watch. It started out a tad cold but once the sun came out it was quite nice. With the sun came a nice barrage of raptors, primarily Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures. It was a pleasure to count today because the birds were moving north pretty steadily without drifting back much, which can be quite frustrating some days when they hesitate to cross and drift all over the place.

Highlights from today: 8 Golden Eagles, 1 first-of-the-season Northern Goshawk, 2 first-of-the-season Broad-winged Hawks, 1 leucistic Red-tailed Hawk who hung around for a long time allowing many nice looks, 2 dark morph Red-tailed Hawks, and at least 4 Northern Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 203
Osprey – 5
Bald Eagle – 13
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 28
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Northern Goshawk – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 3
Broad-winged Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 975
Rough-legged Hawk – 9
Golden Eagle – 8

Immature Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Hawk Watch, April 9-11

The final day of Raptor Fest (Sunday, April 9) was a bit more low key than the preceding two days. There was a decent raptor movement but birds were flying very high and very far away, so it was a bit more challenging to see them. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and to everyone who helped me spot raptors! Highlights include a dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawk and at least 4 Northern Red-tailed Hawks.

Turkey Vulture – 45
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 16
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Red-shouldered Hawk – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 189
Rough-legged Hawk – 8
American Kestrel – 2
Unknown Buteo – 1

Sandhill Crane – 36

April 10 and 11 were even more low key because the count got completely rained out.

Crowd at the Hawk Watch, April 9 (Photo by Steve Baker)

 

Hawk Watch, April 8

Today was Raptor Fest and the hawk watch was attended by more people than I’d ever seen. While there was less raptor movement than yesterday and many of the migrants were far away, it was a great day. Thanks to all who came to the hawk watch and Raptor Fest! Hopefully tomorrow will be just as good, despite some afternoon rain in the forecast.

During the second hour, we were once again treated to a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk. Whether this individual was one from yesterday who did not cross or a new bird, I can’t say for certain as it was a bit too far to scrutinize. Besides that highlight, we also had 2 dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawks, at least 5 Northern Red-tailed Hawks (very likely an undercount), an immature Golden Eagle, and the first Opsrey of the year.

Turkey Vulture – 76
Osprey – 1
Bald Eagle – 8
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 11
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 305
Rough-legged Hawk – 5
Golden Eagle – 1
American Kestrel – 2
Merlin – 2

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola) that has been hanging out locally the past few days

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Hawk Watch, April 7

Today had a nice movement of raptors for all of the Raptor Fest attendees. Just as I had hoped yesterday, the leucisitic Red-tailed Hawk made another appearance today early in the day, passing directly over head. Not only that, but throughout the day two more leucistic Red-tailed Hawks were seen. We were able to determine these were three different individuals by their unique variations of colored and white feathers. Among the many Red-tailed Hawk migrants were at least 3 dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawks and at least 13 Northern Red-tailed Hawks. Other highlights include 2 Golden Eagles and 1 Cooper’s Hawk.

Turkey Vulture – 44
Bald Eagle – 9
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 9
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 610
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Golden Eagle – 2
Unknown Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 1

I know others got much better photos of the leucistic birds than I did, but here are mine anyway

Leucistic Adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) [first individual]

Leucistic Adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) [second individual]

Leucistic Adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
[third individual]

Leucistic Adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) [third individual]

Adult dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis calurus)

Adult Eastern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Hawk Watch, April 6

It’s a nice change of pace, as a former waterbird counter, to be looking south all day when there is a strong north wind. Conditions were gusty with variable cloud cover, with some brief appearances of the sun throughout the day. Raptors started out nice and steady, but once it hit noon a barrage of Red-tailed Hawks rolled through. Between 12:00 and 1:00pm I had 223 Red-tailed Hawks, which at times was quite intense to keep track of because the wind was blowing them everywhere and not many were crossing. By 3:00pm, movement had almost completely stopped. Highlights among the Red-taileds were at least 21 Northern Red-tailed Hawks (among many, many candidates that I couldn’t focus on or photograph), 1 dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawk, and 1 leucistic individual who was primarily white with a few dark feathers and 1-2 red tail feathers. Much to my disappointment, the leucistic bird was a bit too far for me to manage a photograph. However, I don’t think it crossed yesterday because it made another brief appearance an hour or so after the initial sighting and then disappeared beneath the trees. Hopefully it’ll reappear tomorrow much closer. Other highlights include a single immature Golden Eagle, an adult female Northern Harrier, and the local Merlin pair harassing a low-passing Red-tailed Hawk.

Turkey Vulture – 45
Bald Eagle – 6
Northern Harrier – 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 6
Red-tailed Hawk – 392
Rough-legged Hawk – 4
Golden Eagle – 1

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Eastern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)

Adult dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis calurus)

Juvenile Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Hawk Watch, April 3-5

Hi all,

I’m excited to be back in Mackinaw City this spring to fill in for Kevin Georg counting raptors for the rest of the season. Hopefully I can continue his legacy!

I arrived on Sunday, April 2 and was immediately greeted by a couple large kettles of raptors at the Darrow’s count site and temps in the 50s which is something I have not often experienced in Mackinaw City.

April 3 was my first day official day as counter and it was unfortunately rained out after just 2 hours. But we (Ed Pike, Bryant Eddy, and I) still had some decent numbers.

Turkey Vulture – 54
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 37
Rough-legged Hawk – 4

April 4 was rainy throughout the morning but at 2:00pm it finally cleared up and I was able to get in a couple hours of counting, which produced a decent variety despite low numbers.

Turkey Vulture – 16
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

April 5 was my first full day of counting. It was a pretty nice day with low easterly winds and temps in 40s, though it didn’t feel all that warm due to 100% cloud cover. A nice amount of Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures pushed through. Highlights include 2 dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawks and at least 6 Northern Red-tailed Hawks. Non-raptor highlights include 9 Greater White-fronted Geese that flew over.

Turkey Vulture – 118
Bald Eagle – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 10
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 326
Rough-legged Hawk – 4

Here are some photos from April 5 that I managed to get. As you may imagine, it’s often difficult to get a good photo of a migrating raptor.

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Adult dark-morph Western Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis calurus)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Adult Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola)

Waterbird Count, November 10 — Finale

The fall 2016 season has come to an end. Things were slowing down in the past few days and more birds were resting in the Straits than migrating. The last day was overall unremarkable, but at least it was warm despite strong SW winds. The highlight was probably 2 Black Scoters. This season brought more Black Scoters than I had anticipated. I suspect that Black Scoters may have surpassed Surf Scoters in total individuals. I will post a season summary once I have all the data compiled.

It was a very enjoyable season with many wonderful birds. This season’s data will tell us a lot about how waterbirds utilize the Straits in the fall. I’m grateful MSRW invited me to do the count!

Mallard – 3
Redhead – 53
Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 26
Black Scoter – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 291
Common Goldeneye – 8
Red-breasted Merganser – 14
Common Loon – 10
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Bald Eagle – 4

First winter Ring-billed Gull, 11/09/16

First winter Ring-billed Gull, 11/09/16

Waterbird Count, November 9

Quite a good day of movement, especially considering it’s the penultimate day of the count. The first three hours were very productive, but it slowed down heavily afterward. There were many raptors moving south, but the west winds pushed most of them beyond my detection. Still, I had 3 Golden Eagles and 8 Rough-legged Hawks. In the morning, I also had a presumably local Merlin flying northward. I hadn’t seen a Merlin in a month or so prior to today.

Redhead – 1020 (all birds from east of the Mackinac Bridge moving west)
Greater Scaup – 4
White-winged Scoter – 70
Long-tailed Duck – 886
Bufflehead – 101
Common Goldeneye – 10
Common Merganser – 1
Red-breasted Merganser – 38
duck sp. – 7
Common Loon – 7
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Golden Eagle – 3
Bald Eagle – 8
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
Rough-legged Hawk – 8
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, November 8

Strong NW wind made it feel much colder than it was, but it brought some decent movement. Aside from it being my best Bufflehead day, there wasn’t much of note. Overall, not a bad haul for the end of the season.

Gadwall – 11
American Wigeon – 1
Mallard – 6
Redhead – 257
Greater Scaup – 14
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Aythya sp. – 1
White-winged Scoter – 21
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 225
Bufflehead – 159
Common Goldenye – 22
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 32
duck sp. – 54
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 12
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 9

Bald Eagle – 1
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, November 5 & November 7

November 5
A bit out of order, but November 5 was actually pretty productive. I had good numbers for all the usual species, especially Bufflehead for which it was my best day as of yet. Another highlight was an adult Golden Eagle migrating south near the bridge. I’m thankful to Darrell who covered for me on November 6 so Steve Baker, Jack & Bev Kirby, and I could go see the Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Menominee, MI — the third state record!

Mallard – 3
Redhead – 185
Greater Scaup – 10
White-winged Scoter – 64
Long-tailed Duck – 463
Bufflehead – 80
Common Goldeneye – 19
Common Merganser – 1
Red-breasted Merganser – 26
duck sp. – 193
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 6
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 7
Double-crested Cormorant – 2

Golden Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 4
Bald Eagle – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

November 7
In contrast to the 5th, today was very slow. It reminded me of the days in early August in terms of slowness, but also in terms of nice weather. I still saw some nice species diversity, including my best day for American Black Ducks with an impressive 5 birds.

American Black Duck – 5
Mallard – 6
Redhead – 12
White-winged Scoter – 25
Black Scoter – 2
Surf/Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 133
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 20
duck sp. – 125
Common Loon – 3
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Bald Eagle – 2

Photos of the Fork-tailed Flycatcher — not very relevant to the count or Straits area, but relevant for Michigan’s avifauna history.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Menominee, MI, 11/06/16

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Menominee, MI, 11/06/16

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Menominee, MI, 11/06/16

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Menominee, MI, 11/06/16

Long-tailed Duck in Munising, MI, 11/06/16

Long-tailed Duck in Munising, MI, 11/06/16

Waterbird Count, November 4

Strong westerly winds all day brought some pretty good movement. It was my best day for Common Goldeneyes thus far. I saw a lot of raptors kettling across the Straits, but never ended up seeing many cross except a few Bald Eagles. Over the past few days I’ve seen some dead waterbirds floating in the lake, usually being picked at by Herring Gulls. It’s possible these birds are victims of botulism, or perhaps were killed by duck hunters — ideally the latter. The deceased birds have been primarily Long-tailed Ducks and a single White-winged Scoter.

American Black Duck – 2
Mallard – 3
Redhead – 110
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
White-winged Scoter – 86
Long-tailed Duck – 166
Bufflehead – 18
Common Goldeneye – 109
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 101
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 9
duck sp. – 467
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 16
Horned Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1

Bald Eagle – 9

Waterbird Count, November 3

I’m grateful that the nice weather has continued and looks like it will continue through the end of the count. It’s possible that this weather could be impeding movement, but perhaps migration is just winding down. Today had a moderate amount of movement, though the majority of it was the Redheads moving from the near the bridge westward. It was my best day for Buffleheads thus far. There have been many American Goldfinches flying around Mcgulpin Point this week, and today I estimated at least 95 in one flock.

Mallard – 1
Redhead – 575
White-winged Scoter – 53
Black Scoter – 3
Long-tailed Duck – 67
Bufflehead – 62
Common Goldeneye – 19
Hooded Merganser – 2
Common Merganser – 5
Red-breasted Merganser – 19
duck sp. – 901
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 13
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 7
Double-crested Cormorant – 3
Bonaparte’s Gull – 2

Bald Eagle – 2
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

Rough-legged Hawk and Snow Bunting, 11/03/16

Rough-legged Hawk and Snow Bunting, 11/03/16

Waterbird Count, November 2

With little to no wind, there was not much movement today. There were still some decent things to be seen, including, once again, all 3 mergansers, all 3 scoters, and 4 species of gulls. All morning a large group of American Goldfinches were flying around, at least 60 that I saw at once. Among them were 1 Pine Siskin and 1 Common Redpoll. The ducks east of the bridge, presumed 99% Redheads, lifted off the water and split off southward and westward, interestingly. I managed a poor photo of them.

Mute Swan – 1
Mallard – 5
Redhead – 156
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 26
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 94
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 5
Red-breasted Merganser – 14
duck sp. – 1848
Common Loon – 5
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 3
Bonaparte’s Gull – 2
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Bald Eagle – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 3
Rough-legged Hawk – 3

Red-breasted Mergansers, 11/02/16

Red-breasted Mergansers, 11/02/16

Horned Grebe, 11/02/16

Horned Grebe, 11/02/16

Ducks east of the Mackinac Bridge, 11/02/16

Ducks east of the Mackinac Bridge, 11/02/16

Waterbird Count, November 1

What better way to ring in November than  mid-60s and a winter gull.  Today a lovely adult Iceland Gull flew by McGulpin, granting me another four gull species day (with a lone Bonaparte’s Gull). In addition, I also had all 3 merganser species and all 3 scoter species — a good day for species combos. Overall there was nice waterbird variety.

Canada Goose – 10
Gadwall – 5
Mallard – 5
Northern Pintail – 2
Redhead – 3
Greater Scaup – 2
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 3
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 74
Black Scoter – 2
Surf/Black Scoter – 3
Long-tailed Duck – 175
Bufflehead – 6
Common Goldeneye – 9
Hooded Merganser – 3
Common Merganser – 8
Red-breasted Merganser – 19
duck sp. – 194
Common Loon – 5
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1
Iceland Gull – 1

Bald Eagle – 3

Adult Iceland Gull, 11/01/16

Adult Iceland Gull, 11/01/16

Waterbird Count, October 31

Perhaps the southerly winds are hindering waterbird movement, or maybe migration is winding down. At least the weather is pretty nice. There was a good amount of passerine activity along the beach, including 21 American Pipits, 68 Snow Buntings, and 70 American Goldfinches.

Canada Goose – 6
dabbling duck sp. – 6
Redhead – 110
White-winged Scoter – 22
Surf/Black Scoter – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 67
Bufflehead – 27
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 10
duck sp. – 438 (mostly presumed-Redheads east of the bridge)
Common Loon – 15
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 3

Bald Eagle – 3

Immature White-crowned Sparrow, 10/31/16

Immature White-crowned Sparrow, 10/31/16

Buffleheads, 10/31/16

Buffleheads, 10/31/16

Waterbird Count, October 30

Despite northerly winds, it wasn’t too cold today. I had decent numbers of the usual suspects but nothing out of the ordinary. Not many raptors passed over me, but I did see a Turkey Vulture circling over the UP — getting a bit late for this species. I had a decent number of passerines flying over and around the beach, including 45 American Goldfinch, 5 Pine Siskins (most I’ve had yet this fall), and 45 American Pipits (a large number for this date). I also had a Belted Kingfisher which I hadn’t seen for weeks.

Mallard – 2
Redhead – 63
White-winged Scoter – 56
Surf/Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 456
Common Goldeneye – 14
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 64
duck sp. – 37
Common Loon – 6
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 11
Double-crested Cormorant – 2

Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 5
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, October 29

It seemed like today might be another slow day, and though it was, there was a major highlight: a new migrant gull graced McGulpin Point for the season — a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake. Best of all, I managed some photos this time. I have been hoping a Sabine’s Gull would pass by McGulpin this fall, but I can’t complain with this consolation. Juvenile Black-legged Kittiwakes are among my favorite gulls in terms of plumage. Interestingly, and possibly coincidentally, the Black-legged Kittiwake that I saw on the spring count was also seen on a day of strong NW winds. Both kittiwakes were seen fairly close to shore and flying west. Aside from this excellent species, it was a pretty low key day. I had all three scoter species and four species of gull — probably the first time I’ve managed more than three at McGulpin. A large cloud of ducks seemingly flew in from southeast of the Mackinac Bridge and landed in the typical Redhead raft area during the first hour. I was hoping the strong NW winds would push some raptors over, but I only had a few, including a Northern Harrier flying north.

Redhead – 26
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 34
Black Scoter – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 276
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 53
duck sp. – 856 (~840 landed east of the bridge)
Common Loon – 21
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 4
Black-legged Kittiwake – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 4

Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake, 10/29/16

Juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake, 10/29/16

Waterbird Count, October 28

One of the slowest days since August, but at least the southerly winds made the weather at McGulpin pretty nice. The main highlight for me was a lone Black Scoter flying west, though I can’t complain about seeing hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks. I’m glad to still have Red-throated Loons passing through as well.

Mallard – 2
Redhead – 26
Greater Scaup – 10
White-winged Scoter – 12
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 289
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 5
duck sp. – 223
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 6
Horned Grebe – 11
Red-necked Grebe – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 4

Bald Eagle – 2

Female Pileated Woodpecker, 10/28/16

Female Pileated Woodpecker, 10/28/16

Common Loon, 10/28/16

Common Loon, 10/28/16

American Goldfinch, 10/28/16

American Goldfinch, 10/28/16

Horned Grebe, 10/28/16

Horned Grebe, 10/28/16

Waterbird Count, October 27

A slow day with only the usual suspects. The morning started out rather miserable with strong NE wind and persistent rain for a couple hours, but turned into a really nice day with essentially no wind. All species were few in number except Long-tailed Ducks, though I did have 5 Mute Swans which is the most I’ve seen at McGulpin Point. The ducks east of the Mackinac Bridge rose up off the water, so I had many unidentified ducks. These ducks are presumed to be 99% Redheads, but at this distance it can’t be confirmed that that is what I’m seeing, so I don’t count them as such. Within the mix are surely some scaups and perhaps some other ducks.

Raptor migration was definitely not as slow. I ended up with one of my best Red-tailed Hawk days, complete with 2 western subspecies, dark-morph Red-tailed Hawks. It also ended up as my best Rough-legged Hawk day. It is getting late for Turkey Vultures, but I’m still getting a few.

Mute Swan – 5
Mallard – 4
Redhead – 15
Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 22
Long-tailed Duck – 414
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 11
duck sp. – 958
Common Loon – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 3

Turkey Vulture – 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 11
Red-tailed Hawk – 132
Rough-legged Hawk – 13

Dark morph, adult, western Red-tailed Hawk, 10/27/16

Dark morph, adult, western Red-tailed Hawk, 10/27/16

Turkey Vulture, 10/27/16

Turkey Vulture, 10/27/16

Dark morph, juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, 10/27/16

Dark morph, juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, 10/27/16

Mute Swans, 10/27/16

Mute Swans, 10/27/16

Waterbird Count, October 26

Waterbird activity was a bit slow today, aside from Long-tailed Ducks. I had my first-of-the-season Great Black-backed Gull soar by headed west. A handful of raptors alleviated the lack of movement in the afternoon.

American Black Duck – 2
Mallard – 8
Redhead – 4
White-winged Scoter – 12
Long-tailed Duck – 515
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 5
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 173
Common Loon – 4
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 2
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Turkey Vulture – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 20
Rough-legged Hawk – 5

Snow Buntings, 10/26/16

Snow Buntings, 10/26/16

Waterbird Count, October 25

The temperature was much more tolerable today due to calmer winds. Even though there a lot of heat shimmer, the main species on the move today were Long-tailed Ducks, who are easy to ID at a far distance in shimmer. It was quite a good Long-tailed movement, as well as White-winged Scoters. Other highlights were 3 Northern Pintail and 3 Black Scoters. As for raptors, Rough-legged Hawks are now moving through.

swan sp. – 2
Northern Pintail – 3
dabbling duck sp. – 1
Redhead – 11
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 246
Black Scoter – 3
scoter sp. – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 1659
Bufflehead – 3
Common Goldeneye – 4
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 39
duck sp. – 62
Common Loon – 6
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 2

Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 15
Rough-legged Hawk – 5

American Crow – 72

White-winged Scoter flock, 10/25/16

White-winged Scoter flock, 10/25/16

Common Goldeneye, 10/25/16

Common Goldeneye, 10/25/16

Common Merganser, 10/25/16

Common Merganser, 10/25/16

2nd Cycle Ring-billed Gull, 10/25/16

2nd Cycle Ring-billed Gull, 10/25/16

Adult Ring-billed Gull, 10/25/16

Adult Ring-billed Gull, 10/25/16

Red-tailed Hawk, 10/25/16

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, 10/25/16

Rough-legged Hawk, 10/25/16

Juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, 10/25/16

Redhead raft, seen from the Mackinac Bridge, 10/25/16

Redhead raft, seen from the Mackinac Bridge, 10/25/16

Redhead raft, seen from the Mackinac Bridge, 10/25/16

Redhead raft, seen from the Mackinac Bridge, 10/25/16

Waterbird Count, October 24

Strong WNW wind, mid-40s, and occasional showers made today quite cold. There was thick heat shimmer so my visibility was a bit impacted. Long-tailed Ducks are still moving in large numbers and Double-crested Cormorants have nearly departed. A deceased Red-necked Grebe washed up on shore during the count, a potential victim of botulism.

American Wigeon – 1
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 41
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 71
scoter sp. – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 533
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 51
duck sp. – 429
Common Loon – 9
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Bald Eagle – 2

Deceased Red-necked Grebe, 10/24/16

Deceased Red-necked Grebe, 10/24/16

Waterbird Count, October 23

Darrell Lawson covered for me on the 22nd so I suspect he will post a summary about that. Today brought a pretty good duck movement. Redheads, Long-tailed Ducks, and White-winged Scoters were the biggest movers, predictably. A good number of Bonaparte’s Gulls passed through, which I always enjoy. Some passerine highlights were 46 Snow Buntings flying down the beach and an early Common Redpoll perched in the feeder tree. I also had my first Rough-legged Hawks of the season migrate over.

Mute Swan – 2
Redhead – 351
Greater Scaup – 14
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 154
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 431
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 33
duck sp. – 212
Common Loon – 13
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 3
Bonaparte’s Gull – 23

Bald Eagle – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
Rough-legged Hawk – 3

Mute Swans, 10/23/16

Mute Swans, 10/23/16

Waterbird Count, October 21

A bit of a slow day for waterbirds, aside from some very distant flocks of unidentifiable ducks in the dense heat shimmer. It was a bit cold, but thankfully the forecast for the remainder of the count doesn’t seem like it will get much colder. There was a very nice movement of Red-tailed Hawks and American Crows, easily my best day for the latter.

Canada Goose – 61
Mallard – 1
White-winged Scoter – 52
scoter sp. – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 64
Bufflehead – 1
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 45
duck sp. – 404
Red-throated Loon – 5
Common Loon – 55
Double-crested Cormorant – 5

Turkey Vulture – 13
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 116
Buteo sp. – 1

American Crow – 754

Waterbird Count, October 20

It was quite cold today with an unpleasant northerly wind.  It ended up being my best Common Loon day of the season and my best Bufflehead day at McGulpin Point. Other highlights were a single Bonaparte’s Gull, a nice flight of Red-tailed Hawks, and a juvenile Golden Eagle — the only one I’ve seen here this fall. Also, my first Snow Bunting of the fall was seen flying down the beach.

Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 343
Greater Scaup – 22
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 9
Aythya sp. – 1
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 80
Surf/Black Scoter – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 49
Bufflehead – 25
Common Merganser – 6
Red-breasted Merganser – 17
duck sp. – 428
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 98
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 11
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1

Turkey Vulture – 17
Golden Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 11
Red-tailed Hawk – 57
Buteo sp. – 2

American Crow – 199

Juvenile Golden Eagle, 10/20/16

Juvenile Golden Eagle, 10/20/16

Waterbird Count, October 19

A much slower day compared to the past couple days  but good nonetheless. The Long-tailed Duck movement seems to be calmed for the time being and Redheads returned as the dominant mover. Granted, a large portion of my Redhead and duck sp. numbers were from a large group of about 600 ducks that rose up from the east side of the bridge. It also ended up as my best Greater Scaup and Black Scoter day. Lots of American Crows were on the move and a handful of raptors as well. Raptors seem to be winding down as of late.

Canada Goose – 17
American Wigeon – 6
Mallard – 8
dabbling duck sp. – 6
Redhead – 311
Greater Scaup – 57
Lesser Scaup – 5
Aythya sp. – 4
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 44
Black Scoter – 8
Long-tailed Duck – 81
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 8
Red-breasted Merganser – 26
duck sp. – 729
Red-throated Loon – 3
Common Loon – 43
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 6
Double-crested Cormorant – 29

Turkey Vulture – 18
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned – 2
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-tailed Hawk – 3
Peregrine Falcon – 1

American Crow – 202

Muskrat – 1

Adult Peregrine Falcon, 10/19/16

Adult Peregrine Falcon, 10/19/16

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull, 10/19/16

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull, 10/19/16

Sunrise at McGulpin Point, 10/19/16

Sunrise at McGulpin Point, 10/19/16

Waterbird Count, October 18

Long-tailed Ducks have arrived in force. Today’s numbers rivaled the spring count, except that a large number of these were migrating rather than resting on the water. It was essentially a nonstop stream of Long-tailed Ducks with the occasional White-winged Scoter flock all day. It ended up being my best White-winged Scoter day, and among my best Long-tailed Duck days. The main highlight aside from those ducks was a late Osprey.

Canada Goose – 148
Gadwall – 1
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 2
Redhead – 67
Lesser Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
Surf Scoter – 3
White-winged Scoter – 321
Long-tailed Duck – 1904
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 8
Red-breasted Merganser – 73
duck sp. – 186
Red-throated Loon – 4
Common Loon – 49
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 7
Red-necked Grebe – 12
Double-crested Cormorant – 31

Turkey Vulture – 3
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 2
Bald Eagle – 1

Sandhill Crane – 10

Long-tailed Ducks, 10/18/16

Long-tailed Ducks, 10/18/16

Waterbird Count, October 17

Surprisingly, I had never counted at McGulpin during a thunderstorm before today, so I was curious how that would affect waterbird movement. During the first 2 hours, there was a bit of thunder and lightning but little to no rain. It appeared to suppress movement, because it was quite slow. Around the third hour, the thunder and lightning had stopped and it started raining hard with strong NE wind and waterbird movement definitely picked up. There was a rather large influx of Long-tailed Ducks, a nice variety of dabbling ducks, and all 3 scoter species. Even though visibility was low (the bridge was nearly, or entirely, obscured all day), a lot of birds were flying closer to shore than on a clear day. Thanks to Dave Jacobs who braved the rain and helped me spot birds for a few hours.

Canada Goose – 60
Gadwall – 9
American Wigeon – 2
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 4
Green-winged Teal – 2
Redhead – 33
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 10
Surf Scoter – 8
White-winged Scoter – 23
Black Scoter – 1
Surf/Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 372
Bufflehead – 2
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 10
duck sp. – 188
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 3
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 9
Bonaparte’s Gull – 3

Bald Eagle – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Waterbird Count, October 16

The first four hours were coated in a thick fog, with visibility as low as a quarter of a mile at some points. At first I thought this would result in very few birds. However, it seems the fog caused the waterbirds to fly much closer to McGulpin and lower to the water than usual. On top of that, tons of birds were moving. The primary species was Redhead, of course. I was grateful to have several visitors with me during this intense movement as they really helped me in spotting all of the flocks. Once the fog cleared around 11:30am , the movement came to a halt. Among the large movement were my first-of-season Buffleheads and the first Common Goldeneyes I’ve had in a few weeks. Later in the afternoon, 5 Bonaparte’s Gulls flew by. On the other side of the Straits, I saw 100s of Turkey Vultures and American Crows, but only a few ended up crossing.

Gadwall – 1
Mallard – 7
Northern Pintail – 2
dabbling duck sp. – 2
Redhead – 935
Greater Scaup – 20
Lesser Scaup – 6
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 141
Surf/Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 31
Bufflehead – 14
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 50
Red-breasted Merganser – 38
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 18
duck sp. – 55
Common Loon – 11
Horned Grebe – 20
Red-necked Grebe – 13
Double-crested Cormorant – 11
Bonaparte’s Gulls – 5

Turkey Vulture – 21
Northern Harrier – 3
Bald Eagle – 7
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Sandhill Crane – 38
American Crow – 25

Monarch – 3

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull, 10/16/16

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull, 10/16/16

 

Waterbird Count, October 15

Nice weather today — mid-60s approaching 70 by the last hour. Waterbirds were fairly average, but White-winged Scoters were the dominant species which is a welcome change. Tomorrow looks like nice weather once again, though that often means low waterbird activity.

Canada Goose – 10
Gadwall – 6
American Wigeon – 5
Mallard – 7
dabbling duck sp. – 1
Redhead – 46
Greater Scaup – 21
Lesser Scaup – 1
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 190
Surf/Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 69
Common Merganser – 34
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 173
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 22
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 32

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 8
Bald Eagle – 2

American Crow – 130

White-winged Scoters, 10/15/16

White-winged Scoters, 10/15/16

Waterbird Count, October 14

Much less hectic than yesterday’s flight, but still a lot of ducks passing through. I had even more White-winged Scoters today and 3 distant shorebirds which seemed to be Dunlin but were a bit too far to call. A decent handful of raptors passed over, but the primarily westerly wind pushed many of them far from me.

Canada Goose – 14
swan sp. – 2
American Wigeon – 7
Redhead – 178
Greater Scaup – 12
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Aythya sp. – 22
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 308
Surf/Black Scoter – 4
scoter sp. – 7
Long-tailed Duck – 23
Common Merganser – 39
Red-breasted Merganser – 14
duck sp. – 606
Common Loon – 12
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 12

Turkey Vulture – 125
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 31
Bald Eagle – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 6

Sandhill Crane – 4
American Crow – 139

Waterbird Count, October 13

Huge flight of ducks today, but as is the norm these days, there was also very dense heat shimmer. The majority of the ducks were distant and flew through in the first couple hours when it was overcast with low light, resulting in the vast majority being identified only as “duck sp.” There’s a high chance that most of the ducks were Redheads, given that there can be thousands found in the fall/winter around the north end of the bridge. And indeed, the majority of the ducks that I could ID were Redheads. It was also a very nice scoter day, with my best ever day of White-wingeds and my first Black Scoters of the season (though Darrell had a few when he covered for me a while back). Weather-wise, it was probably the coldest day of the fall so far, with 7-15 mph winds shifting from northwest in A.M. to west in the P.M. — northwest winds often provide some of the best waterbird movement here. Aside from ducks, other highlights include 4 Cackling Geese within a Canada Geese flock and 3 Trumpeter/Tundra Swans headed south, which were quite distant and I barely got them passed “swan sp.” I have yet to successfully ID either a Trumpeter or Tundra to species during the count… hoping to change that soon.

Cackling Goose – 4
Canada Goose – 17
Trumpeter/Tundra Swan – 3
American Wigeon – 16
Mallard – 5
teal sp. – 5
dabbling duck sp. – 22
Redhead – 628
Greater Scaup – 17
Lesser Scaup – 2
Aythya sp. – 33
White-winged Scoter – 223
Black Scoter – 3
Surf/Black Scoter – 3
scoter sp. – 5
Long-tailed Duck – 38
Common Merganser – 13
Red-breasted Merganser – 7
duck sp. – 2953
Common Loon – 14
Red-necked Grebe – 16
Double-crested Cormorant – 14

Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 2

Cackling Geese (left 4 birds) with Canada Geese, 10/13/16

Cackling Geese (left 4 birds) with Canada Geese, 10/13/16

3 Cackling Geese with 1 Canada Goose (lower bird), 10/13/16

3 Cackling Geese with 1 Canada Goose (lower bird), 10/13/16

Waterbird Count, October 12

During the 2nd hour today, a breeding-plumage adult Pacific Loon flew through the Straits headed west. Although it was very distant (over a mile away, I would guess), the beautiful silver nape of this species shines extremely bright in sunlight and was immediately obvious. Steve Baker was with me at the time and was able to see it as well, thankfully. This species is rare but regular in the Great Lakes. Aside from the loon, not much else was of particular note. The weather was wonderful until the last 2 hours when the wind picked up and it started to rain.

Canada Goose – 9
Mute Swan – 3
American Wigeon – 1
teal sp. – 2
dabbling duck sp. – 5
Redhead – 126
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 29
Aythya sp. – 10
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 40
Surf/Black Scoter – 19
Long-tailed Duck – 17
Common Merganser – 6
duck sp. – 149
Pacific Loon – 1
Common Loon – 28
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 43

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 26
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1

American Crow – 150

Waterbird Count, October 11

Pleasant weather has returned — it got up to 73 F by the final hour with little to no wind and calm water. Unfortunately, tomorrow seems like rain. I had the best day of White-winged Scoters of the season thus far, but aside from that it was pretty average. Double-crested Cormorants finally seem to be petering out. A good number of Sharp-shinned Hawks passed by.

Canada Goose – 50
Mute Swan – 2
Redhead – 71
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Surf Scoter – 6
White-winged Scoter – 85
Long-tailed Duck – 21
Common Merganser – 25
Red-breasted Merganser – 5
duck sp. – 338
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 10
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 11

Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 74
Bald Eagle – 4

Monarch – 1

First winter Ring-billed Gull, 10/10/16

First winter Ring-billed Gull, 10/10/16

Herring & Ring-billed Gulls, 10/11/16

Herring & Ring-billed Gulls, 10/11/16

American Crows, 10/11/16

American Crows, 10/11/16

Male & female White-winged Scoters, 10/11/16

Male & female White-winged Scoters, 10/11/16

Tailless Sharp-shinned Hawk, 10/06/16 (Photo by Lynn Fraze)

Tailless Sharp-shinned Hawk, 10/06/16 (Photo by Lynn Fraze)

Waterbird Count, October 10

This little bit of cold is giving me flash backs to the spring count…. Thankfully the next week or so should be warmer. Thanks to Phil Odum for once again joining me for a nice day of birds. Visibility was a impacted by heat shimmer until the last couple hours of the count, but at least the wind wasn’t too fierce. We didn’t have all that many waterbirds, but did have a good variety. Raptor-wise, we had very nice numbers of Turkey Vulture and Sharp-shinned Hawks. We also had some pretty nice movements of American Crows and Sandhill Cranes.

Canada Goose – 12
Mute Swan – 2
Gadwall – 2
Mallard – 2
dabbling duck sp. – 7
Redhead – 35
Greater Scaup – 7
Aythya sp. – 13
Surf Scoter – 5
White-winged Scoter – 79
Surf/Black Scoter – 12
scoter sp. – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 5
Common Merganser – 9
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 10
duck sp. – 181
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 16
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 8
Double-crested Cormorant – 35

Turkey Vulture – 288
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 47
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 8
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
American Kestrel – 4
falcon sp. – 1

Sandhill Crane – 98
American Crow – 113

White-winged Scoters, 10/10/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

White-winged Scoters, 10/10/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

Sharp-shinned Hawk adult, 10/10/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

Sharp-shinned Hawk adult, 10/10/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

Waterbird Count, October 9

A bit cold today but less wind made it bearable. I ended the count 3 hours early today to visit Mackinac Island with Kim Edgington and Dave Mayberry, which was a great time. Despite the abridged count, it still ended up being my best Turkey Vulture day ever. There was also a nice movement of American Crows crossing the Straits. Waterbird-wise, there was a good variety of ducks, including my first-of-the-fall Northern Pintails. Although number-wise, there weren’t that many waterbirds moving.

Canada Goose – 74
swan sp. – 3
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 1
Northern Shoveler – 1
Northern Pintail – 8
teal sp. – 1
Redhead – 45
Aythya sp. – 2
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 3
Common Merganser – 35
Red-breasted Merganser – 2
duck sp. – 185
Common Loon – 9
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 20

Turkey Vulture – 363
Osprey – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 36
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 8
Buteo sp. – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 2

American Crows – 189
Sandhill Crane – 304

Waterbird Count, October 8

It was the coldest day of the season thus far, made worse by strong WNW winds. There was a tremendous amount of heat shimmer which reduced my visibility and the wind was making it difficult to keep my scope steady. Combined with low morning light, this all resulted in many duck ID misses. Thankfully, at least some birds came in close enough that I could resolve their identity through the shimmer. Hopefully with tomorrow’s slightly reduced wind, conditions will be more forgiving.

Mute Swan – 2
Redhead – 178
Greater Scaup – 1
Aythya sp. – 30
White-winged Scoter – 4
Common Merganser – 6
Red-breasted Merganser – 3
duck sp. – 622
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 26
Red-necked Grebe – 9
Double-crested Cormorant – 61

Turkey Vulture – 3
Bald Eagle – 5
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Flock of Redheads, 10/07/16 (Photo by Lynn Fraze)

Flock of Redheads, 10/07/16 (Photo by Lynn Fraze)

Waterbird Count, October 7

Calm southerly wind in the morning turned into strong westerly wind as the day progressed. The temperature was very nice, mostly in the low 70s, I’ll miss it once it’s gone…. There was intense heat shimmer all day until the 8th hour when a cold front moved in, which also got some ducks moving. Despite reduced visibility, I managed to see a nice variety of species

Canada Goose – 38
Mute Swan – 2
American Wigeon – 3
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 4
teal sp. – 1
Redhead – 83
Greater Scaup – 4
Lesser Scaup – 1
Aythya sp. – 31
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 11
Common Merganser – 12
duck sp. – 224
Common Loon – 38
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 93

Turkey Vulture – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 9
Bald Eagle – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 2

Common Loon, 10/07/16

Common Loon, 10/07/16

Waterbird Count, October 6

Fog early in the day and heat shimmer all day caused some visibility issues and resulted in some ID misses and an overall slow day. Nonetheless, the variety was pretty decent. Once the fog lifted in the afternoon, the Sharp-shinned Hawk migration was excellent — my 2nd best day behind my 100+ day earlier this week. One minor highlight which may seem insignificant was 6 Tufted Titmice at the feeders on the beach. Prior to this, I had never seen more than 2 Titmice at once at McGulpin Point, which is the northern extreme of their range in Michigan, very rarely do they venture to the UP.

Canada Goose – 19
American Wigeon – 1
Mallard – 11
Northern Shoveler – 1
teal sp. – 2
Redhead – 59
Greater Scaup – 2
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 4
Aythya sp. – 75
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 7
scoter sp. – 20
Long-tailed Duck – 6
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 108
Common Loon – 26
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 68

Turkey Vulture – 10
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 73
Bald Eagle – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
American Kestrel – 3
Peregrine Falcon – 1
falcon sp. – 1

Monarch – 1

Waterbird Count, October 5

It seems only fair that I’d eventually face a slow day after a nice run of great days. The weather was quite nice with warm temperatures which exceeded 80 degrees in the afternoon. The wind was shifting directions regularly but was mostly coming from the ENE. I would have expected a better movement given the wind direction and speed, but it was surprisingly slow for waterbirds. There was a bit of raptor movement, but not as much as I would expect with that wind. The most notable sighting of the day was 5 Peregrine Falcons flying south, including 3 birds crossing at once. There was a good movement of American Crows going south, including one leucistic bird with white or pale flight feathers. The best non-avian sighting was of a Northern Water Snake sticking its head out of the water along the shore of Lake Michigan, the first time I’ve seen any snake at McGulpin Point.

Canada Goose – 85
Redhead – 3
Greater Scaup – 2
Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 5
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 3
duck sp. – 13
Common Loon – 22
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 115

Turkey Vulture – 2
Northern Harrier – 5
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 19
Bald Eagle – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 5

Sandhill Crane – 27
American Crow  – 48

Common Mergansers, 10/05/16

Common Mergansers, 10/05/16

Turkey Vulture. 10/05/16

Turkey Vulture. 10/05/16

Northern Water Snake, 10/05/16

Northern Water Snake, 10/05/16

Leucistic American Crow, 10/05/16

Leucistic American Crow, 10/05/16

Waterbird Count, October 4

Lovely weather today with very calm water and low, mostly easterly winds. Thanks to Phil Odum who joined me for the count today and helped spot many birds. Waterbird numbers were fairly low, but we had a nice scoter day with my best count of Surf Scoters to date. Long-tailed Ducks have started to increase after not having any since the single bird almost two weeks ago. Where today really shined was raptor movement. We had an exceptional Sharp-shinned Hawk migration, surpassing my previous high count by more than 5x. We also had 3, perhaps 4, Peregrine Falcons come through, including one juvenile which successfully caught a crossing Sharp-shinned Hawk over the water after a dramatic chase. Last but not least, it was also my best day of Northern Harriers to date.

Canada Goose – 152
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 50
Greater Scaup – 2
Lesser Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Surf Scoter – 15
White-winged Scoter – 30
Surf/Black Scoter – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 23
Common Merganser – 9
Red-breasted Merganser – 5
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 6
duck sp. – 22
Common Loon – 13
Horned Grebe – 8
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 100

Turkey Vulture – 38
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 10
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 123
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 7
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 8
Buteo sp. – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 3
American Kestrel – 2

Sandhill Crane – 123

Monarch – 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk, 10/04/16

Sharp-shinned Hawk adult, 10/04/16

Peregrine Falcon juvenile, 10/04/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

Peregrine Falcon juvenile, 10/04/16 (Photo by Phil Odum)

Peregrine Falcon with Sharp-shinned Hawk prey, 10/04/16

Peregrine Falcon with Sharp-shinned Hawk prey, 10/04/16

Waterbird Count, October 3

A nice day for waterbirds, raptors, and cranes. I ended up with my best Redhead, White-winged Scoter, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk of the season (and in some cases, of either season). Among the migrating raptors was a late Osprey, a Northern Goshawk, and a Peregrine Falcon. Yet another day where the ducks, presumably 99% Redheads, on the east side of the Mackinac Bridge lifted up off the water and headed west. They conveniently flew in very strung out lines from the start so I was actually able to get a rough but more-precise-than-usual count. I estimated about 1900 headed west, of which about 300 ducks came close enough for me to identify as all Redheads. White-winged Scoters increased quite a bit today, I’m still patiently waiting for my first Black Scoter of the season.

Canada Goose – 442
Northern Shoveler – 1
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 328
Greater Scaup – 5
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 58
Common Merganser – 14
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 1620
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 46
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 20
Double-crested Cormorant – 76

Turkey Vulture – 449
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 23
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Northern Goshawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 48
Red-tailed Hawk – 33
Buteo sp. – 4
American Kestrel – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1
falcon sp. – 2

Sandhill Crane – 319

Waterbird Count, October 2

Despite a rainy first half of the count, movement was pretty good. It ended up being my best loon day of the season thus far for both species. Highlights of the day for me were two close flying female Surf Scoters and two flocks of Red-throated Loons, both with five birds, flying east. Mergansers and scoters are increasing and Double-crested Cormorants are still around in large numbers.

Canada Goose – 20
Green-winged Teal – 8
teal sp. – 2
Redhead – 68
Greater Scaup – 5
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Surf Scoter – 2
White-Winged Scoter – 33
Surf/Black Scoter – 3
scoter sp. – 8
Common Merganser – 13
Red-breasted Merganser – 7
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 15
duck sp. – 17
Red-throated Loon – 13
Common Loon – 70
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 24
Double-crested Cormorant – 96
Great Blue Heron – 1

Turkey Vulture – 23
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 2

Sandhill Crane – 7

Great Blue Heron on McGulpin Rock, 10/02/16

Great Blue Heron on McGulpin Rock, 10/02/16

Waterbird Count, October 1

A tad slow today with intermittent showers throughout the count. I spent a while scrutinizing what I assume was a dark-eyed sub-adult Herring Gull that gave me a California Gull vibe, which subsequently got flushed by a Bald Eagle and never returned. I suspect it was just a Herring Gull. Other than that, nothing too noteworthy. Personal highlights were 4 female-type Surf Scoters that landed in the Straits and 2 Northern Harriers migrating in the rain.

Canada Goose – 60
Redhead -15
Greater Scaup – 4
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 3
Surf Scoter – 4
White-winged Scoter – 25
Common Merganser – 15
duck sp. – 30
Red-throated Loon – 3
Common Loon – 38
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 14
Double-crested Cormorant – 65

Turkey Vulture – 2
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 4

Sandhill Crane – 13

Waterbird Count, September 30

Strong northeast winds didn’t produce all that much today, waterbird-wise. Around 600 ducks rose up from the water east of the bridge and flew west, though much too distant for me to definitively ID them. A decent amount of Red-necked Grebes and Double-crested Cormorants are still hanging around. It was a fairly good raptor day, with Turkey Vultures on the move as early as 9:30am. In fact, it was the best Turkey Vulture day I’ve had, with 232 birds. The largest group I had crossing the Straits at once was 54. The strong NE winds were pushing many of the raptors far west of me, so I likely missed a lot. Steve Baker was across the Straits at Pointe La Barbe and saw at least 2 birds that I didn’t — an early Rough-legged Hawk and a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk.

Canada Goose – 131
Redhead- 65
Greater Scaup – 4
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 12
Aythya sp. – 8
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 8
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 23
duck sp. – 743
Common Loon – 36
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 35
Double-crested Cormorant – 95

Turkey Vulture – 232
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 13
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 21
Red-tailed Hawk – 18
American Kestrel – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 2

Sandhill Crane – 13

Waterbird Count, September 29

Not as many ducks moving today as in recent days, but thankfully most that were on the move were relatively close to shore. There was a good push of raptors late in the day between 1:30-2:30pm, a bit later than I usually see peak movement. At one point I had 88 Turkey Vultures crossing the Straits all at once. There was nice movement of Sandhill Cranes throughout the afternoon.

Canada Goose – 140
Redhead – 34
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 13
scoter sp. – 1
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 4
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
duck sp. – 31
Red-throated Loon – 4
Common Loon – 41
loon sp. – 2
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 11
Double-crested Cormorant – 40

Turkey Vulture – 103
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 9
Red-tailed Hawk – 9

Sandhill Crane – 375

Surf Scoters (probable first year females), 9/29/16

Surf Scoters (probable first year females), 9/29/16

Red-throated Loons, 9/29/16

Red-throated Loons, 9/29/16

 

Waterbird Count, September 28

A fairly slow day for waterbirds, but there was decent variety and a good number of raptors. The weather was quite pleasant with soft easterly winds and calm water. Thanks to Phil Odum for joining me for the entire count today. We had nice numbers of Turkey Vultures and Cooper’s Hawks, as well as all 3 species of falcon.

Canada Goose – 73
Mallard – 7
Redhead – 38
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 10
Aythya sp. – 9
scoter sp. – 1
Common Merganser – 6
Red-breasted Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 145
Red-throated Loon – 3
Common Loon – 17
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 10
Red-necked Grebe – 18
Double-crested Cormorant – 83
Great Blue Heron – 2

Turkey Vulture – 133
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 15
Cooper’s Hawk – 4
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Red-shouldered/Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
American Kestrel – 1
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
falcon sp. – 1

Monarch – 3

Waterbird Count, September 27

Although today was fraught with intermittent rain and frequent poor visibility, it was a pretty productive day. It was also the coldest day of the season, particularly due to the strong west wind. It was once again a great Redhead and loon day. Despite high waves, I saw a good number of Horned Grebes on the water, the highest so far this season. One highlight of the rainy conditions was 6 different rainbows over the Straits.

Canada Goose – 142
teal sp. – 1
Redhead – 267
Greater Scaup – 12
Lesser Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 14
duck sp. – 275
Red-throated Loon – 5
Common Loon – 60
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 15
Red-necked Grebe – 15
Double-crested Cormorant – 25

Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, September 26

A good amount of ducks and loons on the move today. It rained from around 8:00-9:00 and was overcast all day, which resulted in some missed identifications. Still, it was the best loon day of the season for both of the two species. From what I could ID of the many ducks, the majority were Redheads, with the highlight of a single Surf Scoter. Given the poor weather, I had very few raptors.

Canada Goose – 69
Mallard – 9
Redhead – 118
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 8
Common Merganser – 17
Red-breasted Merganser – 9
duck sp. – 365
Red-throated Loon – 11
Common Loon – 64
loon sp. – 12
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 57

Bald Eagle – 2
falcon sp. – 1

Waterbird Count, September 25

Not nearly as productive as Darrell’s day yesterday, but a good day nonetheless. I had my best loon day of the season for both species. The goose movement of the past few days seems to have slowed a bit, but I still had a decent amount. I had a large flock of Redheads move west, just as Darrell did yesterday, but it was 10x fewer… with about 230 birds. As waterbird movement slowed in the afternoon, I had a small movement of raptors, including a Peregrine Falcon. I saw an interesting interaction of a crossing Sharp-shinned Hawk flying just above the water getting mercilessly harassed by four Ring-billed Gulls. The Sharpie looked quite exhausted by the time it got to shore.

Canada Goose – 117
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 248
Lesser Scaup – 4
White-winged Scoter – 12
Common Merganser – 7
duck sp. – 73
Red-throated Loon – 5
Common Loon – 61
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 31

Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 14
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 7
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
American Kestrel – 5
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Ring-billed Gull vs. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/25/16

Ring-billed Gull vs. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/25/16

Waterbird Count, September 23

A pretty productive day with good waterbird movement in the morning and good raptor movement in the afternoon. Yet again I saw the large group of ducks on the east side of the bridge rise up and land back down on the water. I conservatively estimated 1600 but it’s rather difficult to count a dense, undulating cloud of ducks. Sandhill Cranes are beginning to move more and more.

Canada Goose – 529
Redhead – 16
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 12
White-winged Scoter – 19
Common Merganser – 29
Red-breasted Merganser – 3
duck sp. – 1666
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 32
Red-necked Grebe – 16
Double-crested Cormorant – 73

Turkey Vulture – 83
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 13
Red-tailed Hawk – 3
falcon sp. – 1

Sandhill Crane – 116

Monarch – 3

Waterbird Count, September 22

The day started off pretty bleak with rain from sunrise until around 10:20 AM. Once the rain stopped and visibility improved, waterbird movement increased pretty decently. I once again observed a huge group of ducks on the east side of the Mackinac Bridge lift off the water and land again, this time I estimated at least 1000. Geese were the main birds on the move, including 1 white morph Snow Goose. Passerine activity along the beach was quite high, I saw quite a few warblers and there were many American Pipits crossing the Straits.

Snow Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 234
American Black Duck – 3
Mallard – 11
Redhead – 88
Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 3
Common Merganser – 8
duck sp. – 1038
Common Loon – 6
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 55
Great Blue Heron – 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
American Kestrel – 5

Sandhill Crane – 2

American Pipit – 74
Orange-crowned Warbler – 1
Nashville Warbler – 4
Northern Parula – 1
Magnolia Warbler – 1
Bay-breasted Warbler – 1
Blackburnian Warbler – 1
Blackpoll Warbler – 3
Palm Warbler – 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 2
Black-throated Green Warbler – 2

Waterbird Count, September 21

Just a day after my best ever duck flight I had an even better duck flight. Right at sunrise, huge flocks of ducks were in the air above St Ignace flying west. They were so distant they were almost not visible at 20x with my scope. I estimated around 830 ducks in these flocks. During the second hour, a cloud of ducks rose up off the water on the east side of the Mackinac Bridge and quickly settled back down. I roughly estimated 500 ducks, but it could have potentially been many more. Outside of unidentified ducks, it was a nice day of movement with good variety. I was happy to have Louie Dombroski visit the count for several hours and assist in identifying some of the distant flocks. Aside from ducks, there was a large movement of Canada Geese, resulting in my best day ever with 436 birds headed south. It was also an excellent day of raptor migration. I had my best day of Bald Eagles with 44 birds. I also topped my highest count of Sharp-shinned Hawks by 1. Last but not least, it was also by far the best Monarch migration I’ve seen yet, with 108 butterflies crossing the Straits.

Canada Goose – 436
Gadwall – 3
American Wigeon – 3
teal sp. – 1
Redhead – 98
Greater Scaup – 33
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 9
White-winged Scoter – 33
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 9
duck sp. – 1524
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 17
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 42
Bonaparte’s Gull – 5

Turkey Vulture – 35
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 22
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Northern Goshawk – 1
Accipiter sp. – 2
Bald Eagle – 44
Broad-winged Hawk – 14
Red-tailed Hawk – 7
American Kestrel – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Sandhill Crane – 8
Sanderling – 3

Monarch – 108

Waterbird Count, September 20

Today was the largest duck flight I’ve had at McGulpin Point with over 1000 birds. Frustratingly, the majority of flocks were too distant to identify to species. A huge portion of the ducks were flying east.  I was thankful to have Phil Odum join me for the entire count today as it was very helpful to have two pairs of eyes. The predominant species was Redhead, with Scaup coming in at a distant second. There was an excellent variety of duck species with a couple first-of-the-season species — Gadwall and Lesser Scaup. Outside of ducks, it was also my best Loon day this season and the best falcon day I’ve ever had.

Canada Goose – 86
Gadwall – 1
American Wigeon – 3
Blue-winged Teal – 3
Northern Shoveler – 3
Green-winged Teal – 6
Redhead – 261
Greater Scaup – 13
Lesser Scaup – 10
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 48
Aythya sp. – 75
White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Goldeneye – 1
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 5
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 4
duck sp. – 921
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 51
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 6
Red-necked Grebe – 12
Double-crested Cormorant – 42

Northern Harrier – 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 9
Bald Eagle – 11
American Kestrel – 12
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
falcon sp. – 7
Sandhill Crane – 19

Monarch – 16
Black Swallowtail – 1

Waterbird Count, September 19

Today brought a nice variety, including two first-of-the-season birds — Northern Shoveler and Red-breasted Merganser. As with yesterday, there were many distant, unidentifiable duck flocks headed east today. I had a nice Common Loon flight, tying my season record from 9/12 of 46 birds. Very little raptor migration today, I only had Kestrels actually cross the Straits.

Canada Goose – 1
Mallard – 3
Northern Shoveler – 3
Green-winged Teal – 4
Redhead – 27
Common Merganser – 6
Red-breasted Merganser – 2
duck sp. – 160
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 46
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 5
Double-crested Cormorant – 69

Turkey Vulture – 16
Bald Eagle – 2
American Kestrel – 3

Waterbird Count, September 18

Nice numbers of ducks moving today, unfortunately most were too distant to ID…. The majority that I could ID were Redheads. Most of the unidentified ducks I saw landed to the east of the Mackinac Bridge. Aside from ducks, I had nice loon and eagle numbers. Another highlight was two Bonaparte’s Gulls among a feeding frenzy of Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and Double-crested Cormorants. These species all seem to congregate together to feed in productive areas. I’m not sure what exactly is going on, but it seems the Cormorants cause fish to swim closer to the surface for the Gulls to catch? I filmed a short video of it, which I’ll link below.

Canada Goose – 21
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 173
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 6
White-winged Scoter – 2
Common Merganser – 13
duck sp. – 231
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 30
loon sp. – 5
Horned Grebe – 6
Red-necked Grebe – 12
Double-crested Cormorant – 47
Bonaparte’s Gulls – 2

Turkey Vulture – 10
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Bald Eagle – 32

Monarch – 2

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqbddNnYggA&w=560&h=315]

Waterbird Count, September 17

A pretty unremarkable day. It rained for about 30 minutes during the first hour. Scaup and Horned Grebes showed an increase today and a decent number of Monarchs flew by.

Canada Goose – 7
Greater Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 15
Common Merganser – 22
duck sp. – 4
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 8
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 8
Red-necked Grebes – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 48

Turkey Vulture – 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Accipiter sp. – 4
Bald Eagle – 3

Monarch – 9

Waterbird Count, September 16

A decent morning of waterbirds gave way to a decent afternoon of raptors. A lot of Redheads were on the move, mostly flying west. An unidentified swan was flying and then landed on the water very far out, seemingly along Pointe La Barbe. I believe there are Mute Swans along that coast, so it was likely one of them. With raptors, I had the most Bald Eagles I’ve ever had on the count, as well as three species of falcons.

swan sp. – 1
Redhead – 139
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
Aythya sp. – 20
Hooded Merganser – 2
Common Merganser – 10
duck sp. – 21
Common Loon – 15
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 89

Turkey Vulture – 18
Osprey – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 7
Accipiter sp. – 1
Bald Eagle – 36
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
American Kestrel – 2
Merlin – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Monarch – 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/15/16

Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9/15/16

 

Waterbird Count, September 15

Nice weather today, but unfortunately as it often happens, it was slow with waterbirds. I hardly saw a waterbird after the 4th hour, but there were a good amount of raptors migrating at least. I’ve been happy to see Red-throated Loons the past few days as I hardly got to see that species in the spring.

Canada Goose – 35
American Wigeon – 1
Redhead – 29
Common Merganser – 4
duck sp. – 3
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 5
loon sp. – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 40
Great Blue Heron – 1

Turkey Vulture – 12
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 10
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 5
Bald Eagle – 25
Broad-winged Hawk – 8
Red-tailed Hawk – 3
Buteo sp. – 2
falcon sp. – 1

Monarch – 5

Waterbird Count, September 14

A fairly cold northeasterly wind today brought a decent movement of raptors and Canada Geese. Intense heat shimmer combined with low morning light caused some ID misses on ducks and loons in the first few hours.

Canada Goose – 136
American Black Duck – 1
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 11
White-winged Scoter – 5
Common Merganser – 5
duck sp. – 50
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 13
loon sp. – 4
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 55

Turkey Vulture – 4
Osprey – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 6
Broad-winged Hawk – 16
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Merlin – 1

Monarch – 6

Waterbird Count, September 13

Fairly productive day despite several hours of rain in the morning. Frustratingly, this rainy period is when many ducks passed through and due to low visibility and distance I missed out on IDing many of them. Also during the rain came a Jaeger, which actually hung around on the water for a while. Despite being so obliging, it was much too far for me to manage an identification, especially with the rainy conditions obscuring my visibility. Aside from the Jaeger, the most notable sighting was 2 Common Terns, of which I’ve had extremely few this fall — a total of 4 now.

Canada Goose – 27
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 3
Aythya sp. – 22
White-winged Scoter – 4
Common Merganser – 14
duck sp. – 28
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 21
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 13
Double-crested Cormorant – 45
jaeger sp. – 1
Common Tern – 2

Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Merlin – 1

Monarch – 2

Waterbird Count, September 12

A bit of a disappointing day compared to yesterday. The upside is that I had the first of fall Red-throated Loon among the many Common Loons that passed through today. Aside from the loon movement, it was fairly uneventful.

Canada Goose – 8
Aythya sp. –  6
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Merganser – 2
duck sp. – 50
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 46
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 109
Great Blue Heron – 1

Turkey Vulture – 15
Bald Eagle – 8
American Kestrel – 1

Monarch – 2

Waterbird Count, September 11

The slow period finally ended today, unfortunately a day after the field trp. Thanks to Phil Odum and Matt Hegwood for joining me for 6 hours and bringing a lot of birds with them, as well as Tracy Datlen and Rick Brigham. Ducks finally began moving through in larger numbers and I had a couple first-of-the-season species — Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye. The best sighting had to be the light morph adult Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger which flew through and allowed for good looks. Unfortunately, it was just a bit too distant to confidently rule out Pomarine. Another highlight was a flock of 16 American Wigeon, the largest flock I’ve ever had.

Canada Goose – 22
American Wigeon – 17
Blue-winged Teal – 1
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 73
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 6
duck sp. – 38
Common Loon – 40
Horned Grebe – 6
Red-necked Grebe – 98
Double-crested Cormorant – 48
Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger – 1

Turkey Vulture – 9
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk – 3
Northern Goshawk – 1
Accipiter sp. – 1
Bald Eagle – 11
Merlin – 1
American Kestrel – 2
Sandhill Crane – 2

Monarch – 4

Waterbird Count, September 10

Nice weather graced McGulpin Point for the field trip to the waterbird count this morning. Unfortunately, nice weather often means low waterbird movement. Still, we saw a decent variety of species including Common Loons, Red-necked Grebes, Redheads, Common Mergansers, and of course Double-crested Cormorants. Many warblers flew over head down the beach. After the field trip ended, activity remained mostly stagnant for the remainder of the day. In the afternoon the forecasted storm arrived and brought 20+ mph wind and a couple hours of rain, and no new birds except 2 Canada Geese.

Canada Goose – 8
Mallard – 6
Redhead – 3
Common Merganser – 31
Common Loon – 18
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 37

Bald Eagle – 3
American Kestrel – 1
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, September 9

Duck migration picked up today and I had two large flocks fly in from the east and land in the vicinity of Pointe La Barbe. Unfortunately, due to distance, heat shimmer, and the low morning light, I wasn’t able to identify them. Nonetheless, it was still a decent migration day.

Canada Goose – 10
Redhead – 1
White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Merganser – 3
duck sp. – 124
Common Loon – 25
Red-necked Grebe – 33
Double-crested Cormorant – 104

Turkey Vulture – 13
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 7
Bald Eagle – 4
American Kestrel – 3
Merlin – 1

Monarch – 2

Waterbird Count, September 8

Light rain and heavy fog for the first couple hours gave the impression it would be another slow day. Thankfully, once it cleared there was a bit of movement. Nothing of particular note, but did have 4 Sanderlings flying west and 2 Sandhill Cranes flying south.

The forecast doesn’t seem great for Saturday’s field trip to McGulpin, but I’m hoping for the best.

Canada Goose – 26
White-winged Scoter – 5
Common Loon – 13
Red-necked Grebe – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 68
Great Egret – 1
Sanderling – 4

Turkey Vulture – 3
Bald Eagle – 5
Sandhill Crane – 2

Monarch – 1

Waterbird Count, September 7

Everyday of the past week has been in competition for my slowest day ever at McGulpin Point. Unique to today was that I had no Common Loons. A little duck variety was a nice upside. Outside of waterbirds, I had a decent variety of warblers in the trees behind me.

American Wigeon – 1
Mallard – 2
Redhead – 6
Common Merganser – 31
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 27
Great Blue Heron – 1

Bald Eagle – 4

Black-and-white Warbler – 1
American Redstart – 3
Northern Parula – 2
Magnolia Warbler – 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 1
Blackpoll Warbler – 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1

Monarch – 3

 

Waterbird Count, September 6

A decent Common Loon day despite a fairly poor day otherwise. It rained for a couple hours in the afternoon. Today (Sept 7) looks like it will be similar weather-wise, but more foggy. Red-necked Grebes seem to have hit their peak a few days ago when I had 240.

Canada Goose – 9
Mallard – 1
Common Merganser – 20
Common Loon – 23
Red-necked Grebes – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 45

Bald Eagle – 3
Merlin – 1

Monarch – 1

Waterbird Count, September 5

The recent trend of slow days continues. Not as many raptors today, but Common Loon numbers were about average and I also had 9 Great Egrets. It was among the hottest days I’ve ever had at McGulpin Point, in the mid-80s in the afternoon.

Canada Goose – 36
Mallard – 6
Common Merganser – 1
Common Loon – 15
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 65
Great Blue Heron – 1
Great Egret – 9

Turkey Vulture – 23
Bald Eagle – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
Merlin – 2

Monarch – 1

Waterbird Count, September 4

Quite possibly the slowest day I’ve had at McGulpin Point, not only this season but the spring as well. At least there were a number of raptors to look at,  many kettling over the UP but many crossing along the bridge, primarily Bald Eagles.

Canada Goose – 31
Mallard – 1
Common Merganser – 2
Common Loon – 4
Horned Grebe – 1
Common Loon – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 7
Double-crested Cormorant – 92

Turkey Vulture – 27
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 25
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, September 1-2

September is off to a slow start, these past two days weren’t quite as eventful as the last few days of August. It’s unfortunate since the weather has been so pleasant. Darrell Lawson is covering me today (Sept 3) so hopefully he sees some good things.

September 1
Canada Goose – 122
Mallard – 1
White-winged Scoter – 4
Common Loon – 21
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 65
Double-crested Cormorant – 96
Great Blue Heron – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 8

Turkey Vulture – 10
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 4
Merlin – 1

Monarch – 1

September 2
Canada Goose – 11
Mallard – 2
White-winged Scoter – 2
Common Merganser – 5
Common Loon – 15
Red-necked Grebe – 11
Double-crested Cormorant – 116
Great Egret – 1

Turkey Vulture – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 3

Monarch – 2

Red-necked Grebe 8/20/16

Red-necked Grebe 8/20/16

Waterbird Count, August 31

An action packed morning produced the highest number of Red-necked Grebes I’ve had so far, with 240 birds. The grebes were almost entirely flying in and then landing on the water. I had a nice diversity of ducks, with the first American Wigeons of the season. Only other sighting of particular note was 6 Sanderling flying east.

Canada Goose – 8
American Wigeon – 3
Blue-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 1
White-winged Scoter – 1
Common Merganser – 3
Common Loon – 14
Horned Grebe – 2
Red-necked Grebe – 240
Double-crested Cormorant – 72

Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 4
Merlin – 1
Sanderling – 6

Monarch – 8

Waterbird Count, August 30

Had another Jaeger today and managed some photos. Upon review, structure and plumage seem to point to an immature Parasitic Jaeger, which is the most probable species of Jaeger at this time of the year. Another highlight was a single flock of 40 Bonaparte’s Gulls — the largest flock I’ve had on the count thus far. Aside from that, it was a fairly slow day.

Mallard – 5
Blue-winged Teal – 2
teal sp. – 4
Common Loon – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 14
Double-crested Cormorant – 41
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 4
Bonaparte’s Gull – 40
Parasitic Jaeger – 1

Bald Eagle – 1

Monarch – 2

Parasitic Jaeger 8/30/16

Parasitic Jaeger 8/30/16

 

Waterbird Count, August 29

Quite a slow day, but I had the season’s first Bonaparte’s Gulls fly by. I forgot to mention in the last post that I am also keeping track of migrant Monarch butterflies (and any other butterflies, though I’ve only had a couple sulphur sp.). I have had some nearly, if not every, day of the count so far. Although waterbirds were slow, I did have my best Monarch movement thus far, with 12 butterflies flying south over the Straits.

Mallard – 1
Redhead – 1
Common Loon – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 15
Double-crested Cormorant – 104
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 3

Turkey Vulture – 10
Bald Eagle – 1

Monarch – 12

Waterbird Count, Aug 23-28

Last few days of waterbird counting have been fairly eventful. August 23 and 24 were slow compared to the first three days of the count, but I did have 5 Great Egrets on the 23rd. August 25 brought a nice diversity of ducks finally, with 5 species seen. On August 26, an unidentified jaeger species was seen harassing a Herring Gull and then flying west extremely fast. Due to distance, identification was nearly impossible. August 27 was rainy and visibility was low. On August 28, I had my best day of Red-necked Grebes thus far with 120 birds. In addition, I had an adult Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger flying fairly close to shore. Unfortunately, my view of the jaeger was primarily of it flying directly away from me so I couldn’t visualize its tail streamers or body structure very well, which prevented me from making a definitive ID. Hopefully the third time is a charm and I will have another jaeger come by that I can actually identify.

August 23
Canada Goose – 35
Hooded Merganser – 1
Common Loon – 19
Red-necked Grebe – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 113
Great Blue Heron – 1
Great Egret – 5
Turkey Vulture – 2

Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 2
Merlin – 1

August 24 — Rainy and overcast
Canada Goose – 9
Mallard – 2
Common Loon – 8
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Comorant – 99
Great Blue Heron – 5
Green Heron – 1

August 25
Canada Goose – 25
American Black Duck – 1
Mallard – 7
Blue-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 2
White-winged Scoter – 2
Common Loon – 17
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 46
Double-crested Cormorant – 146
Great Blue Heron – 1
Great Egret – 2

Turkey Vulture – 5
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Least Sandpiper -3

August 26
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 2
White-winged Scoter – 3
Common Loon – 31
Red-necked Grebe – 37
Double-crested Comorant – 75
Great Blue Heron – 3
jaeger sp. – 1

Turkey Vulture – 9
Northern Harrier – 2
Bald Eagle – 5

August 27 — Intermittent rain
Mute Swan – 2
White-winged Scoter – 3
Common Loon -6
Red-necked Grebe – 13
Double-crested Cormorant – 156
Great Blue Heron – 1
Common Tern – 2

Spotted Sandpiper – 1

August 28
Canada Goose – 6
Mallard – 1
Common Merganser – 10
Common Loon – 29
Horned Grebe – 3
Red-necked Grebe – 120
Double-crested Cormorant – 119
Great Blue Heron – 1
Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger – 1

Turkey Vulture – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 3

Fall 2016 waterbird count begins, August 20-22

I’m pleased to be back in Mackinaw City to conduct this fall’s waterbird count! This is a bit out of order since I have yet to post the spring waterbird count summary, but I will post that soon.

The fall count has started off great. In just the first hour of the first day I surpassed the entire spring total of Red-necked Grebes (which was only 20). Red-necked Grebes and Double-crested Cormorants are the main species on the move right now, with a handful of Common Loons as well. Very few ducks so far, but of note were 4 White-winged Scoters.

August 20
Canada Goose – 15
Mallard – 1
White-winged Scoter – 3
Hooded Merganser – 1
duck sp. – 1
Common Loon – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 59
Double-crested Cormorant – 115
Great Blue Heron – 5
Green Heron – 1

Bald Eagle – 3
Spotted Sandpiper – 4

August 21
(Strong winds and dense heat shimmer resulted in some missed IDs)
Common Merganser – 1
duck sp. – 26
Common Loon – 7
loon sp. – 3
Horned Grebe – 6
Red-necked Grebe – 97
Double-crested Cormorant – 87
Great Blue Heron – 1

Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 1

August 22
Canada Goose – 7
White-winged Scoter – 1
Hooded Merganser – 6
Common Loon – 16
loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 81
Double-crested Cormorant – 177
Great Blue Heron – 1

Turkey Vulture – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
Bald Eagle – 5
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, May 3 – 8

As it turns out, loons weren’t passed their peak. Today I had the most Common Loons I’ve had all season, and quite a few the past few days as well, including 1 Red-throated Loon. Yesterday I added a new species for the season with 3 Surf Scoters.

A few new non-waterbirds have trickled in — Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

Highlights:
May 3
Gadwall – 2
Redhead – 8
White-winged Scoter – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 2058
Bufflehead – 4
Common Goldeneye – 1
Common Loon – 14
Horned Grebe – 5

May 4
Northern Shoveler – 2
Redhead – 21
Greater Scaup – 2
Lesser Scaup – 6
White-winged Scoter – 24
Long-tailed Duck – 245
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Loon – 13
Horned Grebe – 7

Peregrine Falcon – 1

May 5
Redhead – 5
White-winged Scoters – 59
Long-tailed Duck – 165
Bufflehead – 1
Common Loon – 66
Horned Grebe – 7

May 6
Wood Duck – 2
Greater Scaup – 1
Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 38
Long-tailed Duck – 2156
Common Goldeneye – 2
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 79
Horned Grebe – 6
Bonaparte’s Gull – 5

May 7
Gadwall – 1
American Black Duck – 1
Greater Scaup – 2
Surf Scoter – 3
White-winged Scoter – 32
Long-tailed Duck – 125
Bufflehead – 9
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Loon – 28

May 8
Redhead – 2
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 33
Long-tailed Duck – 650
Common Goldeneye – 11
Common Loon – 104
Red-necked Grebe – 1

Waterbird Count, April 29 – May 2

It’s been business as usual for waterbirds for the past few days. There hasn’t been much of a discernible decrease in activity for most species. The main thing I’ve noticed is fewer Common Goldeneye, non-Mallard dabbling duck species, and Canada Geese. It seems like Common Loons may have passed their peak, but I’m still getting 10 or so every day. It’s looking pretty grim for getting more Red-throated Loons, Black Scoters, or any Surf Scoters this season, but I’m still optimistic. On April 28 I noted how I had few Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks — I thought perhaps they may be winding down, but that did not continue. Red-breasted Mergansers have returned to their average of 100 or so per day, and today I had my highest count of Long-tailed Ducks of the entire season — 2945!

The best highlight of the past four days was a Say’s Phoebe at the hawk watch on April 29 and 30. According to the Michigan Bird Records Committee, this is the 23rd state record.

Highlights of April 29 – May 2:

April 29
Redhead – 108
White-winged Scoter – 58
Long-tailed Duck – 543
Common Loon – 15
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 4

Golden Eagle – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

April 30
Redhead – 75
Lesser Scaup – 2
White-winged Scoter – 66
Long-tailed Duck – 886
Common Loon – 7
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 7

May 1
Redhead – 7
Greater Scaup – 13
Lesser Scaup – 7
White-winged Scoter – 18
Long-tailed Duck – 166
Common Loon – 15
Horned Grebe – 5

May 2
Redhead – 45
White-winged Scoter – 19
Long-tailed Duck – 2945
Common Loon – 15
Horned Grebe – 13
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1

Common Redpoll – 1 (getting late)

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe – April 29, 2016

Waterbird Count, April 28

A decrease in Long-tailed Ducks today and to a lesser extent Red-breasted Mergansers as well. White-winged Scoters are still going strong. Only sighting of note was the largest flock of Common Goldeneyes that I’ve had yet, with 15 birds.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 2
Redhead – 103
White-winged Scoter – 56
Unidentified scoter sp. – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 52
Common Goldeneye – 19
Common Merganser – 18
Red-breasted Merganser – 68
Unidentified duck sp. – 3
Common Loon – 14
Horned Grebe – 3
Double-Crested Cormorant – 58
Bonaparte’s Gull – 25

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 19
Osprey – 5
Golden Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 8
Bald Eagle – 2
Broad-winged Hawk – 33
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
Sandhill Crane – 1
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 27

More business as usual. Once again strong winds in the morning subsided into a calm afternoon. I finally had my first warbler at McGulpin Point — a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 4
Redhead – 71
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 5
White-winged Scoter – 25
Long-tailed Duck – 300
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 93
Unidentified duck sp. – 14
Common Loon – 13
Horned Grebe – 2
Double-Crested Cormorant – 48
Great Blue Heron – 4
Bonaparte’s Gull – 3

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 1
Osprey – 2
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 7
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Sandhill Crane – 3
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 26

Strong winds in the morning subsided into a nice and calm afternoon. Numbers continue to be about the same. Most notable sighting was a pair of Horned Grebes doing a partial courtship dance.

Canada Goose – 1
Gadwall – 2
Mallard – 3
Redhead – 177
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 18
Long-tailed Duck – 161
Bufflehead – 2
Common Goldeneye – 9
Common Merganser – 20
Red-breasted Merganser – 90
Unidentified duck sp. – 10
Common Loon – 21
Unidentified loon sp. – 2
Horned Grebe – 8
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-Crested Cormorant – 19
Great Blue Heron – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 7

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 8
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 12
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Sandhill Crane – 5
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 25

It rained until around 11:00am today but visibility was mostly good. The wind wasn’t too bad, surprisingly. There were occasional strong gusts but in between it was pretty calm. My only sighting of note was all three expected grebe species. But the best sighting of the day occurred at the hawk watch where Kevin found two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Canada Goose – 1
Wood Duck – 4
Mallard – 2
Redhead – 25
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 22
Long-tailed Duck – 211
Bufflehead – 2
Common Goldeneye – 7
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 81
Unidentified duck sp. – 2
Common Loon – 17
Pied-billed Grebe – 1
Horned Grebe – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-Crested Cormorant – 23
Bonaparte’s Gull – 18

Others:
Osprey – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 1

Waterbird Count, April 24

More of the same today. Had a little bit of rain in the afternoon but visibility was mostly unaffected. Tomorrow’s forecast of rain and strong wind looks pretty dismal.

Wood Duck – 2
Mallard – 8
Redhead – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 3
Unidentified Aythya sp. – 3
White-winged Scoter – 29
Long-tailed Duck – 243
Common Goldeneye – 8
Common Merganser – 17
Red-breasted Merganser – 103
Unidentified duck sp. – 4
Common Loon – 13
Horned Grebe – 3
Double-Crested Cormorant – 79
Great Blue Heron – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 7
Osprey – 2
Northern Harrier – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Bald Eagle – 6
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, April 23

Pretty average day, with strong wings from the northeast. The largest flock of Redheads I’ve had yet (around 210) flew in from the west and landed around Pointe La Barbe early in the day. Still good numbers of White-winged Scoters around.

Around 6:00 this morning there was an Eastern Towhee singing outside of our bathroom window.

Canada Goose – 1
Mallard – 7
Redhead – 300
Greater Scaup – 2
White-winged Scoter – 45
Long-tailed Duck – 179
Common Goldeneye – 1
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 92
Unidentified duck sp. – 22
Common Loon – 9
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-Crested Cormorant – 60
Great Blue Heron – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 15
Osprey – 1
Golden Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Bald Eagle – 10
Broad-winged Hawk – 17
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Sandhill Crane – 2
Peregrine Falcon – 1
American Kestrel – 1

Waterbird Count, April 22

Not a bad day for waterbird migration. Many flocks were flying much higher than usual. The majority of Red-breasted Mergansers I saw today appeared to be migrating, which is interesting because as of late they had almost all been loafers. I had a new species for the season with a flock of 13 Gadwall. Quite a few Bonaparte’s Gulls passed by heading west, unfortunately I couldn’t find yesterday’s Little Gull among them. Very few raptors passed over me today.

Canada Goose – 4
Gadwall – 13
Mallard – 9
Northern Shoveler – 3
Northern Pintail – 2
Green-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 51
Greater Scaup – 39
White-winged Scoter – 27
Long-tailed Duck – 164
Bufflehead – 6
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 27
Red-breasted Merganser – 143
Unidentified duck sp. – 58
Common Loon – 18
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-Crested Cormorant – 41
Great Blue Heron – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 43

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 9
Northern Harrier – 3
Bald Eagle – 3
Sandhill Crane – 16

Waterbird Count, April 21

I had a decent variety of species in spite of persistent rain and heavy fog. I ended the count about an hour and a half early in hopes of seeing the Little Gull that Ed, Steve, the Kirbys, and others had found in St Ignace. We searched thoroughly but could not relocate it.

At home, Kevin and I had two Chipping Sparrows at our feeders — our first of the year.

Wood Duck – 1
Mallard – 7
White-winged Scoter – 7
Long-tailed Duck – 205
Bufflehead – 16
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 58
Unidentified duck sp. – 23
Common Loon – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-Crested Cormorant – 10

Others:
Northern Harrier – 1

Waterbird Count, April 20

Another new species for the season today — a male Blue-winged Teal. The male Black Scoter was still around today, again loafing with Red-breasted Mergansers. Hawks were sparse, I had more going south than going north.

Canada Goose – 11
Wood Duck – 1
Mallard – 9
Blue-winged Teal – 1
Redhead – 6
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 13
White-winged Scoter – 23
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 591
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 64
Unidentified duck sp. – 2
Common Loon – 28
Double-Crested Cormorant – 55
Great Blue Heron – 2

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 8
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Bald Eagle – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Crane – 3

Waterbird Count, April 19

Pretty average day for waterbirds, but I did have a new species for the season — a male Black Scoter. He was flying and foraging with Red-breasted Mergansers. The best bird of the day was not at the waterbird count but at the hawk watch, when the dark morph Swainson’s Hawk from April 17 made another appearance and I was able to see it this time! I also had a nice variety of hawks migrating over me. The down side is that they were quite high up today.

Canada Goose – 113
Wood Duck – 1
Greater Scaup – 2
Lesser Scaup – 3
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 2
White-winged Scoter – 11
Black Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 424
Common Merganser – 24
Red-breasted Merganser – 98
Unidentified duck sp. – 4
Common Loon – 11
Double-Crested Cormorant – 46

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 75
Osprey – 3
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 8
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 51
Red-tailed Hawk – 34
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Crane – 15

Waterbird Count, April 18

Yesterday Darrell covered for me giving me a chance to sleep in a little, but I joined him for around 4 hours. I don’t have the full report, but we had good numbers of Common Loons (19 while I was there), Turkey Vultures, and most interestingly a Pied-billed Grebe fairly close to shore. There were more Long-tailed Ducks than there had been (at least 310), and many were vocalizing. Thanks to the calm water and wind, we also got to hear Red-breasted Mergansers vocalizing while displaying. Weather-wise, it was very nice.

Today was pretty nice as well, but with stronger winds from the west that were sometimes quite cold. Raptor numbers were down, probably in part due to the westerly winds. There was heavy heat shimmer, probably the worst I’ve had yet, that reduced visibility. Common Loons numbers continue to rise and there were way more Long-tailed Ducks resting in the straits. I also had a new species for the season with a flock of 13 Bonaparte’s Gulls that were flying west, close to shore.

Canada Goose – 5
Mallard – 4
Green-winged Teal – 3
Redhead – 3
Greater Scaup – 20
White-winged Scoter – 14
Long-tailed Duck – 670
Bufflehead – 3
Common Merganser – 17
Red-breasted Merganser – 119
Unidentified duck sp. – 77
Common Loon – 29
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-Crested Cormorant – 67
Great Blue Heron – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 13

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 32
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 5
Bald Eagle – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 6
Sandhill Crane – 35

Waterbird Count, April 15 & 16

Didn’t get a chance to post yesterday but I finally made it out to owl banding, which was great — thanks for having us all Emily and Kim! I expected to have to leave before they caught anything but I was grateful that we got lucky with two saw-whets so early.

Loons have been steadily increasing and Long-tailed Ducks have been dwindling. Yesterday I had my first-of-the-year Eastern Phoebe and Osprey. Today I had two new species for this season’s count — Northern Shoveler and Red-throated Loon! I’ve been enjoying the east winds pushing many of the raptors over my head.

April 15
Canada Goose – 31
Trumpeter/Tundra Swan – 6
Mallard – 4
Northern Pintail – 16
Redhead – 8
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 15
Unidentified Aythya sp. 1
White-winged Scoter – 37
Long-tailed Duck – 194
Bufflehead – 2
Common Goldeneye – 4
Common Merganser – 30
Red-breasted Merganser – 120
Unidentified duck sp. – 79
Common Loon – 10
Double-Crested Cormorant – 34
Great Blue Heron – 2

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 88
Osprey – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 13
Cooper’s Hawk – 3
Bald Eagle – 13
Red-shouldered Hawk – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 54 (at least one Western dark morph)
Rough-legged Hawk – 5
Sandhill Crane – 45
American Kestrel – 2
Merlin – 2

April 16
Canada Goose – 107
Wood Duck – 2
Mallard – 4
Northern Shoveler- 4
Green-winged Teal – 17
Redhead – 6
Greater Scaup – 10
White-winged Scoter – 56
Long-tailed Duck – 115
Common Goldeneye – 1
Common Merganser – 35
Red-breasted Merganser – 120
Unidentified duck sp. – 44
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 17
Double-Crested Cormorant – 41
Great Blue Heron – 4

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 107
Golden Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 21
Cooper’s Hawk – 5
Bald Eagle – 7
Red-tailed Hawk – 34 (one Western dark morph and at least one Northern)
Rough-legged Hawk – 8
Sandhill Crane – 88
American Kestrel – 2
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 14

Three new species for the season and good numbers today as well. New additions were Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and Lesser Scaup. I almost had another new species but couldn’t resolve a group of 16 Trumpeter/Tundra Swans that were just too far out on the water. Among non-waterbirds, new for the year was a Barn Swallow flying east along the beach.

Canada Goose – 148
Trumpeter/Tundra Swan – 16
Unidentified swan sp. – 3
Wood Duck – 1
Mallard – 19
Northern Pintail – 3
Green-winged Teal – 4
Redhead – 237
Greater Scaup – 2
Lesser Scaup – 2
White-winged Scoter – 25
Long-tailed Duck – 178
Common Merganser – 29
Red-breasted Merganser – 96
Unidentified duck sp. – 40
Common Loon – 5
Red-necked Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 31

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 111
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 49
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Sandhill Crane – 1
Snowy Owl – 1

Waterbird Count, April 13

Not quite the day that the hawk watch had, but I had decent numbers of waterbirds. The weather looks to be much warmer for the foreseeable future so I’m hoping for more and more movement.

Canada Goose – 73
Mallard – 8
Redhead – 194
Greater Scaup – 2
White-winged Scoter – 80
Unidentified scoter sp. – 31 (probably all White-winged)
Long-tailed Duck – 470
Common Goldeneye – 9
Hooded Merganser – 2
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 104
Unidentified duck sp. – 18
Common Loon – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 5

Otheres:
Turkey Vulture – 166
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 14
Red-tailed Hawk – 134
Rough-legged Hawk – 2
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 12 — Black-legged Kittiwake!

A fairly slow day until the last 10 minutes when I saw a smaller gull that I thought was going to be the first Bonaparte’s of the season. As it got closer, I noticed the black collar on its nape and the bold, black M pattern on its wings, which didn’t have black trailing edges. It was in fact a first cycle BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE. I was able to get very good views as it gradually flew northwest into a strong headwind across the straits, landing several times on the water. I called Steve Baker to come and try to photograph it, but it was pretty distant by the time he arrived, though he may have got some identifiable shots. A very exciting and unexpected bird!

Aside from that, it was business as usual. Many Turkey Vultures were on the move.

Redhead – 5
White-winged Scoter – 16
Long-tailed Duck – 419
Common Goldeneye – 4
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 99
Unidentified duck sp. – 38
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 5
Black-legged Kittiwake – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 140
Bald Eagle – 6
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, April 11

Today was quite active for a change. The first two hours had so much movement in both directions it was stressful to keep up. Aside from heavy fog at sunrise, visibility was excellent. The wind was consistently strong from the west, but it was still pretty nice out. And to top it off, I had a new arrival — four Double-crested Cormorants.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 10
Redhead – 62
White-winged Scoter – 34
Long-tailed Duck – 678
Bufflehead – 6
Common Goldeneye – 27
Common Merganser – 14
Red-breasted Merganser – 206
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Unidentified duck sp. – 33
Common Loon – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 4
Great Blue Heron – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 48
Bald Eagle – 9

Waterbird Count, April 10

It snowed for the majority of the time today, but there were around two hours of no snow and good visibility in the late morning. The only thing of note today was the amount of Redheads — my highest count so far, with one flock of 55.

Redhead – 66
Long-tailed Duck – 322
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 4
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 72
Unidentified duck sp. – 31

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 5
Bald Eagle – 1

Waterbird Count, April 9

The day started out quite cold in the mid-teens with strong winds, but by the end of the day it wasn’t too bad. Heat shimmer was quite extensive and resulted in some missed IDs of distant ducks. I had fewer Red-breasted Mergansers than average but otherwise it was business as usual for waterbirds. I also had the most Turkey Vultures of the season so far.

Redhead – 3
White-winged Scoter – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 474
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 54
Unidentified duck sp. – 63
Great Blue Heron – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 73
Bald Eagle – 6

Waterbird Count, April 8

Better weather brought poorer variety, with only 5 species of waterfowl. But at least there were more raptors today. Tomorrow’s weather looks about the same as today’s but even colder.

White-winged Scoter – 18
Long-tailed Duck – 324
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 82
Unidentified duck sp. – 12

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 17
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, April 7

Yet another snowy day with low visibility, except today there were stronger winds. It felt much slower than yesterday but numbers were pretty similar. Tomorrow is looking like it’ll be a comparatively nice day.

Canada Goose – 20
Mallard – 3
Redhead – 2
White-winged Scoter – 10
Long-tailed Duck – 287
Common Goldeneye – 13
Common Merganser – 11
Red-breasted Merganser – 77
Unidentified duck sp. – 16
Common Loon – 1

Other:
Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, April 6

Constant snow and low visibility today, but at least it was fairly warm with calm wind. It’s interesting that despite such poor visibility, my numbers and variety were about the same as a clear day. Tomorrow’s forecast shows snow once again.

Mallard – 1
Redhead – 2
White-winged Scoter – 14
Long-tailed Duck – 430
Common Goldeneye – 9
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 87
Unidentified duck sp. – 6
Great Blue Heron – 1

Other:
Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, April 5

Nice weather today with fairly calm winds which made it feel less cold. Tomorrow’s forecast looks pretty bleak in comparison. Waterbirds were fairly standard. Most notable was my largest flock of White-winged Scoters so far (50) and an adult Great Black-backed Gull.

Canada Goose – 20
Unidentified swan sp. – 3
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 78
Long-tailed Duck – 361
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 14
Red-breasted Merganser – 98
Unidentified duck sp. – 4
Common Loon – 1
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 4
Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, April 4

Quite a cold morning due to strong winds, but around 2:00pm the wind subsided and it was pretty nice afterward. There was extensive heat shimmer all day which reduced visibility.

Canada Goose – 1
White-winged Scoter – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 491
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 9
Red-breasted Merganser – 87
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 5
Unidentified duck sp. – 58
Unidentified loon sp. – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 5

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 13
Bald Eagle – 5
Rough-legged Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, April 3

Although today’s weather was similar to yesterday’s, activity was much lower. There was pretty much constant snow and poor visibility, especially from 11:00am onward.

Long-tailed Duck – 111
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 10
Red-breasted Merganser – 82
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Unidentified duck sp. – 50
Horned Grebe – 1

Others:
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 2

Waterbird Count, April 2

Nearly constant snow throughout the day, especially in the morning. Visibility was mostly poor but it cleared up intermittently. Wind was pretty calm until the last two hours. But it was still a productive day since poor weather doesn’t seem to concern the waterbirds.

Canada Goose – 4
Redhead – 3
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 95
Long-tailed Duck – 834
Bufflehead – 2
Common Goldeneye – 4
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 116
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Unidentified duck sp. – 16
Common Loon – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1

Others:
Bald Eagle – 5

Waterbird Count, April 1

Waterbirds were back to the same old species again. Most interesting sightings today were of passerines — two Snow Buntings heading north over the Straits and five Eastern Meadowlarks who seemed like they were going to cross the Straits but decided to turn around.

Canada Goose – 1
Greater Scaup – 1
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 5
Long-tailed Duck – 438
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 15
Common Merganser – 16
Red-breasted Merganser – 169
Unidentified duck sp. – 215

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Waterbird Count, March 31

Despite rain and heavy fog for most of the day, I had three new arrivals — a Common Loon, three Red-necked Grebes, and a Great Blue Heron. I again had six unidentified swans, four flying south far to the west and two foraging off Pointe La Barbe. I also had amazing views of a male Northern Harrier flying along the shore very close to me.

Canada Goose – 6
Unidentified swan sp. – 6
Mallard – 5
Redhead – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 930
Common Goldeneye – 9
Common Merganser – 37
Red-breasted Merganser – 119
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 4
Unidentified duck sp. – 8
Common Loon – 1
Horned Grebe – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 3
Great Blue Heron – 1

Other:
Northern Harrier – 1

Waterbird Count, March 30

Today was the warmest day I’ve had yet, in the 40s and 50s, with very calm winds. There was only about 30 mins of rain early in the day. There was nice diversity with four species of dabbling ducks and 6 distant swans, in addition to the usual suspects. Many American Robins were also on the move.

Canada Goose – 94
Unidentified swan sp. – 6
Wood Duck – 5
American Wigeon – 2
American Black Duck – 2
Mallard – 3
Redhead – 35
White-winged Scoter – 11
Long-tailed Duck – 913
Common Goldeneye – 14
Common Merganser – 28
Red-breasted Merganser – 104
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 2
Unidentified duck sp. – 72

Other:
Turkey Vulture – 16
Golden Eagle – 1
Bald Eagle – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 7
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Crane – 13
American Robin – 86

Waterbird Count, March 29

Compared to the hawk watch, my day was pretty slow. I did have a new arrival — a single Horned Grebe that flew in and landed in the Straits for a while. Good numbers of White-winged Scoters were moving. One highlight was a Merlin mercilessly diving at a Pine Siskin over the water, which managed to escaped.

Canada Goose – 15
Wood Duck – 2
Redhead – 2
White-winged Scoter – 107
Long-tailed Duck – 639
Common Goldeneye – 5
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 114
Unidentified duck sp. – 60
Horned Grebe – 1

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 40
Bald Eagle – 8
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, March 28

An average day, duck-wise. The Long-tailed Ducks continue around St. Helena Island. A passing helicopter helped me count them by making many of them fly around briefly. Raptors kept things interesting with a Snowy Owl flying north low over the water around 8:30am and a good movement of Turkey Vultures later in the day, mostly in the last hour.

Canada Goose – 1
Mallard – 6
Redhead – 6
Greater Scaup – 3
White-winged Scoter – 22
Long-tailed Duck – 739
Common Goldeneye – 20
Common Merganser – 13
Red-breasted Merganser – 164
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 2
Unidentified duck sp. – 140

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 32
Bald Eagle – 10
Red-tailed Hawk – 5
Snowy Owl – 1

Waterbird Count, March 27

Pretty productive day number and variety-wise until the rain started around 1:00pm. Darrell Lawson joined me in the afternoon and brought the raptors with him, including a Northern subspecies Red-tailed Hawk. Large numbers of Long-tailed Ducks continue around St. Helena Island, but with the overcast and fog, it was difficult to get an accurate count. The best sighting today was two Greater White-fronted Geese that were flying south across the Straits, west of McGulpin Point.

Greater White-fronted Goose – 2
Canada Goose – 54
Wood Duck – 2
Mallard – 16
Redhead – 7
White-winged Scoter – 25
Long-tailed Duck – 554
Bufflehead – 9
Common Goldeneye – 12
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 258
Unidentified duck sp. – 74

Others:
Golden Eagle – 1
Bald Eagle – 3
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 17
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
Sandhill Crane – 2

Waterbird Count, March 26

Southerly winds brought nothing new, but White-winged Scoter numbers were way up. Large groups of Long-tailed Ducks continue around St. Helena Island, where they rested on the water all day.

Mallard – 1
Redhead – 1
Greater Scaup – 4
Greater/Lesser Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – 102
Long-tailed Duck – 780
Common Goldeneye – 2
Common Merganser – 24
Red-breasted Merganser – 155
Unidentified duck sp. – 144

Others:
Turkey Vulture – 4
Bald Eagle – 10
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Waterbird Count, March 25 — 1000+ Long-tailed Ducks

A welcomed improvement from yesterday — weather-wise and bird-wise! It was sunny and in the mid-30s with very calm, westerly winds. Around 9:30am, I spotted approximately 400 Long-tailed Ducks in flight south of St. Helena Island, where they eventually resettled. Throughout the day, many more groups of Long-taileds moved west toward the south side of the island, where I could see that nearly all of them were landing. Aside from this, the ducks were about the same as usual. But I did have a first or second cycle Great Black-backed Gull flying south across the Straits and also had two flyover blackbird sp. that I believe were Brewer’s Blackbirds based on call, but I’m not confident enough to say for sure. Unfortunately, I missed Kevin’s call about a Black Vulture headed my way and it had likely crossed the Straits before I could look for it.

Tomorrow’s forecast shows southerly winds, so I’m hopeful for some new arrivals.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 2
White-winged Scoter – 18
Long-tailed Duck – 1115
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 8
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 106
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Unidentified duck sp. – 59

Others:
Northern Harrier – 3
Bald Eagle – 5
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Waterbird Count, March 24

Rough conditions today — 20-25 mph winds, heavy snow for most of the morning, and about a mile or less of visibility all day. Interestingly, most of the ducks were traveling east into the strong headwind. Overall, very few birds were moving, but I still managed two new species for the season: American Black Duck and Greater Scaup.

American Black Duck – 1
Redhead – 7
Greater Scaup – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 1
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 25
Unidentified duck sp. – 13

Waterbird Count, March 23

Pretty slow day despite decent conditions. Variety and numbers were mediocre. Canada Geese were on the move and 4 Mute Swans were my first for the count. Tomorrow’s forecast of snow and strong winds sounds pretty dismal.

Canada Goose – 80
Mute Swan – 4
Redhead – 3
Unidentified Aythya sp. – 150
Common Goldeneye – 5
Common Merganser – 26
Red-breasted Merganser – 73
Unidentified duck sp. – 149

Others:
Bald Eagle – 7
Northern Harrier – 1
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Cranes – 2

Waterbird Count, March 22

Today was plagued by snow and poor visibility. From around 8:30 AM onward, I could only see about 1 mile or less across the Straits. Despite low numbers, I still had decent variety, including a lone Hooded Merganser.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 8
Redhead – 4
Common Goldeneye – 2
Bufflehead – 1
Common Merganser – 26
Red-breasted Merganser – 53
Hooded Merganser – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 12
White-winged Scoter – 4
Unidentified duck sp. – 34

Others:
Bald Eagle – 2
Merlin – 1

Waterbird Count, March 21

A pretty active morning turned into a slower day with activity dropping off around the third hour of observation. Wind was reasonably calm and temperatures were cool. There was much less raptor diversity today and very few land birds were heard in the forest behind me at McGulpin Point. But waterbird numbers were fairly good — a lot more Long-tailed Ducks were on the move today and we have now surpassed last fall’s waterbird count total for Red-breasted Mergansers.

Canada Goose – 6
Redhead – 31
Unidentified Aythya sp. – 1020 (probably Redheads — briefly took flight and then resettled on the NE side of Mackinac Bridge)
Common Goldeneye – 5
Common Merganser – 36
Red-breasted Merganser – 115
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 21
White-winged Scoter – 31
Unidentified duck sp. – 176

Other notables:
Turkey Vulture – 15
Bald Eagle – 8

Waterbird Count, March 20

The first day of spring brought calm winds and cool temperatures — a nice change from yesterday. The Straits had frozen a bit overnight, and as the day warmed the ice stacked up along the shore creating nice sights and sounds.

I was joined again by Darrell Lawson today. Movement and variety was similar to yesterday, pretty good for early in the season.

Canada Goose – 47
Mallard – 3
Redhead – 44
Unidentified Aythya sp. – 33
Bufflehead – 2
Common Goldeneye – 7
Common Merganser – 21
Red-breasted Merganser – 86
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 1
White-winged Scoter – 31
Unidentified duck sp. – 109

Other species of note:
Turkey Vulture – 5
Bald Eagle – 15
Golden Eagle – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Crane – 2

Waterbird Count begins, March 19

I’m honored to be joining the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch to conduct this spring’s waterbird count!

Today, Darrell Lawson and I surveyed from McGulpin Point for eight hours starting at sunrise. Visibility was excellent and the wind was fairly calm.  We had good numbers and variety for being relatively early in the season.

Canada Goose – 6
American Wigeon – 2
Redhead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 11
Bufflehead – 6
Red-breasted Merganser  – 128
Common Merganser – 38
White-winged Scoter – 4
Long-tailed Duck – 4
Unidentified duck sp. – 155

Other birds of note:
Turkey Vulture – 1
Bald Eagle – 15
Golden Eagle – 4
Red-tailed Hawk – 4
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Northern Goshawk – 1
Merlin – 1

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Ice 5