Category Archives: 2015

Owl Update: 3 November-4 November (partial update)

It wasn’t too long after opening the nets that the fog lifted and the sky cleared. The east winds switched over to the southeast sometime around 0100 hours and died down quite a bit. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was captured at 2100 hours and the nets remained empty for the rest of the night. Perhaps I should have said in my last blog update that I would be happy with twenty?

Slow as it was, I’m glad we had the one come through, but I’d say the most exciting part of the evening was watching the northern lights. They were quite low in the horizon and the lights along US-2 drowned them out a bit, but they were still beautiful. The display showed some beautiful reds-my first time seeing that color in the auroras.

Tonight (4 November) started off just like last night. The fog was super dense and I, again, couldn’t see the bridge from our furthest net. I planned on keeping the nets open until around midnight or 0200 hours and shutting down if I hadn’t caught anything by then. Sure enough, at about 0030 hours, the fog lifted and exposed the bright, star-lit sky. A half hour later, our first owl of the night was captured in the Long-eared Owl audio lure net and it was a…..wait for it……a Long-eared Owl! Our third of the season and our first one in the LEOW audio lure location.

As of 0345 hours, there have been no other captures, though I just heard a saw-whet talking over by the NSWO nets. We’ll see what the next net check brings.



A foggy morning

On Nov. 3 Ed Pike did a waterbird count 7:20 am till 9:50 am, from McGalpin Point.  The Straits were foggy and I could not see the bridge.  I believe there was about a mile of visibility.  In the second hour the fog started to lift and I could see almost half of the bridge.  Then the fog moved back in and the bridge disappeared again.  Only a few waterbirds seen with such low visibility.  The other problem was that every time I went to use my spotting scope the lenses would be fogged up and needed to be wiped off to see.

C. Loon    3                                                                                                                                                        C. Merganser         2                                                                                                                                Mute Swan             4                                                                                                                                         Red-necked Grebe            5                                                                                                                White-winged Scoter           5                                                                                                         Canada Goose                 4                                                                                                                         Long-tailed Duck              33                                                                                                                       C. Goldeneye                       5                                                                                                                   Duck sp.                 76

Two C. Crows were seen flying south across the Straits.  Very few gulls were seen; only a few Ring-billed Gulls.  The D. C. Cormorants seem to have all moved south.  Hoping for better conditions nest time.

Slow night

Four Northern Saw-whet Owls were captured and banded last night. The first owl came in at around 2100 hours and the last owl of the night was captured around 0300 hours just before the dense fog rolled in. One of the females from last night-a second year bird- weighed in at an astonishing 120 grams. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had one that heavy before. I actually had to weigh her twice because I couldn’t believe my eyes. Just a fun little tidbit for you.

By dawn, the fog had moved off of the point and settled over the Straits, which probably made things interesting for Ed during his waterbird count this morning. The freighters were busy blowing their fog horns all day, which will likely continue throughout the night as conditions haven’t improved. In fact, the point is socked in again and I can’t even see the bridge from the passive net. Having said that, I’m not expecting much action from the owls tonight. Plus, we currently have a lovely 12 mph east wind, which should switch to the southeast at some point. I’ll consider it a good night if I can just get one by dawn.


A great night of diversity

Last night’s west winds brought a few birds to the point. A few saw-whets were captured between dusk and 2100 hours and our first Barred Owl of the season came in at 2200 hours. I wasn’t able to capture an image of the bird, but I do have several bite marks on my hands for proof. It was a feisty one-and smelly, too.  After banding and releasing the barred, I checked the far locations and found a Long-eared Owl in the passive net. That makes our second long-eared for the season with hopefully more to come in the next nine nights left on the point.

We still haven’t captured any long-eareds in the LEOW audio lure location, which has us wondering if we need to change things up next season. There has been a recent increase in banding stations using a LEOW audio lure to bring in long-eareds and some banders are reporting having success. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes and make changes where we think are necessary.

After 0100 hours, the winds switched to the southwest, which slowed the movement to a screeching halt. In total, six Northern Saw-whets were captured last night along with the barred and long-eared owls. Season totals at this time are listed below.

Northern Saw-whet Owl: 232
Barred Owl: 1
Long-eared Owl: 2

Tonight’s wind is predicted to be out of the west at 5 mph, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a few more birds move thru. As always, stay tuned.

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.



Lots O’ Long-tails

While the count was generally pretty slow on Saturday, October 31st, there were plenty of Long-tailed Ducks moving.  Almost 500 (497) were counted heading west, compared to a meager 72 going east.  Other than Long-tails, a few Bufflehead, Common Mergansers, and White-winged Scoters were seen.  Twenty-five American Crows was a relatively light number compared to recent counts.  They were joined by three Common Ravens.  Two Bonaparte’s Gulls flying east were a highlight.  Here is the total breakdown of the count.

Species East West
Common Loon 1 1
Mallard 5 0
Long-tailed Duck 72 497
Bufflehead 0 3
Duck sp. 0 108
White-winged Scoter 0 13
Red-necked Grebe 0 1
Common Merganser 0 4
Greater Scaup 3 0
Bonaparte’s Gull 2 0

News from the banding station 1 November

On 30 October, Ed Pike filled in for Selena Creed and ran the banding station until 0100 hours. Winds started out at 8-12 mph from the southwest and eventually began blowing from the south. The movement was rather slow, but two Northern Saw-whet Owls were captured-a real treat for our patient visitors. One of the birds was a new capture for us and the second bird was a foreign retrap originally banded at Yellowwood State Forest, Indiana in November of 2012. They banded this bird as a second year female, which makes her at least 5 years old.

Last night, the wind and rain kept the banding station closed. Tonight, however, looks like a good night despite the gusting west winds. They’re predicted to die down as the night progresses and will, hopefully, bring a few birds with them.

A slow morning of waterbirds

On Oct. 29, 2015 Ed Pike and Steve Baker counted waterbirds.  Waterbird movement was very slow with light southwesterly winds, cloudy skies and drizzle.  Waterbirds seen were:

Mallard                           4                                                                                                                                     C. Goldeneye            7                                                                                                                                    C. Merganser                 27                                                                                                                            C. Loon                          6                                                                                                                                      Horned Grebe              5                                                                                                                        Long-tailed Duck             38                                                                                                              White-winged Scoter       2                                                                                                                  Red-breasted Merganser    1                                                                                                              Duck sp.                               3                                                                                                                             also seen flying south across the Straits were:                                                                                C. Crow                                  69                                                                                                                 One adult Bald Eagle was seen flying north across the straits (maybe confused).  After conducting the count we traveled north across the bridge and saw the Redheads by the north end on the east side; many were near the bridge with a string of them extending to the east for a half mile or more.  We estimated 3,500 in the flock.

Owl update

After having the last three nights off due to inclement weather, I was really looking forward to opening the nets last night. The winds were out of the NW at around 14 mph to start out and I was hopeful for a push of birds. Six hefty females were captured between 2000 hours and 0100 hours. At around 0100 hours, the temperature dropped to below freezing and frost  collected on the mist nets, which scintillated in the moonlight. If I could see it without my headlamp on, the owls could, too. From 0100 hours to 0600 hours, the nets remained empty.

We’re at 215 Northern Saw-whet Owls and one Long-eared Owl with 12 nights left of banding. Still time for a busy night or two.