Author Archives: Steve Baker

Record day at Pt. Labarbe for Rough-legs. 86 on October 29!

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A great day for buteos. Greeted by a hard overnight frost, the Hawks were slow to get moving, but by 10:30 the Red-shouldered Hawks quickly kettled up and moved south with 10 in view overhead at one time. Just before noon the Red-tails and Rough-legs dominated the migration and the counters were busy scanning the skies for the next 4 hours. Sunshine ruled the day (clouds had been forecast ) and the raptors took advantage of thermals and rose to tremendous heights before heading south over the Straits. Most afternoon birds were not visible without binoculars which meant constant scanning and some sore necks.
The Rough-legs were the stars of the day with a total of 86 tallied, the highest fall total ever in Michigan, and included 13 stunning dark morph birds. Other highlights were 415 Red-tails, 31 Red-shouldered, 2 Golden Eagles, and a very cooperative Peregrine Falcon which perched nearby for 15 minutes.

Peregrines up close. October 2 Hawk Watch , Steve Baker posting.w

A pleasant day at the hawk watch with good views of special birds and good company. Highlights included some sweet  views of curious Peregrines (one landed and observed us for 15 minutes!), an adult northern Red-tailed Hawk,  and a steady stream of Sharp-shinned Hawks overhead. We also had six White-winged Scoters fly west and many wandering flocks of Blue Jays and Pipits.

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Farewell dinner and misc. photos

Monday,November 9 there was a farewell dinner for Selena at the Keyhole in Mackinaw City. We celebrated a very successful owl banding season thanks to Selena’s efforts. Thanks to Tony for the group photo. Tuesday was the last day for the waterbird count and Ed closed out the season. Sunrise over the straits was a good show as usual and I will miss these early morning scenes.

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Redheads at north end of bridge

Redheads at north end of bridge

Redheads

Redheads

The Mighty Mac

The Mighty Mac

Boats at sunrise

Boats at sunrise

Ed scanning the Straits

Ed scanning the Straits

Cheers!

Cheers!

Waterbirds for November 5

it was supposed to be a foggy morning but a visit to the bridge view cam showed pretty good visibility at 6 am so I did a few hours of observation at McGulpin Point. Migration has definitely slowed to a trickle. Several flocks of 20-50 small birds, probably finches, were seen headed south, but none were close enough to ID.

RB Merganser 2
Common Loon 3
Unidentified Flying Ducks 33
Mallard 2
Long-tailed duck 12
C. Goose 19

November 1 waterbirds

Goldeneye 1
Long-tailed Duck. 158
Buffleheads. 11
Unidentified duck. 107
Redhead. 4
Common Loon 34
Red-throated Loon 1
Mallard 1
WW Scoter 3
R-b Merganser 1

Bald Eagles 6
Snow Bunting 1

Blustery west winds with driving rain showers slowed migration until the 3rd hour when the sun poked through and the birds perked up. Common Loons totaled 23 the 3rd hour , all east bound. Photo shows flock of crows and Bald Eagle following the bridge south.

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Redheads are gathering!

Every autumn large flocks of ducks gather in the Lake Huron waters at the North end of the Mackinac Bridge. Rafts of thousands can be seen when northbound on the bridge. The vast majority are Redheads but study of photos usually show a few Canvasbacks and Scaup in the mix. They are often so tightly packed that they appear as dark smudges on the water. These rafts will remain until ice up and can be a spectacular show when taking to the air. Already this October there are at least a few thousand present with more to come.

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October 23. A slow day for waterbirds

Light NE winds and frost greeted us this morning but the Ducks were few and ID was challenging with water level distortion and aberrations. Two hours of observation produced these totals:
Mallard-11
Long-tailed Duck-110
DC Cormorant-2
Horned Grebe-1
Unidentified duck-138
Common Loon-2
Buffleheads-1
Red-breasted Merganser-1

Other birds : crow>200
Coopers Hawk-1