We caught an American Woodcock early in the night, but were not having much luck with owls. We almost went the entire night without catching any owls, so we were very excited to find a Long-eared Owl in our nets at sunrise! The bird was a second year female and our third LEOW banded this season.
There was a lot of frog activity last night. We heard both Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs calling. We also came across several Northern Leopard Frogs while we were walking to check nets.
It should be cloudy tonight with winds from the northeast at 10 to 15 mph. The next saw-whet we band will be the 40th one we have banded this spring. Hopefully we will do it tonight!
We captured eight Northern Saw-whet Owls last night. We banded seven of them, and one was a foreign recapture. All were female except for one, which was only our second male of the season so far.
We have been hearing woodcocks calling for the past couple of weeks, and we found one in our nets at sunrise this morning.
Tonight looks like a good night for catching owls. We should have clear skies and mild winds out of the southeast.
Setting up nets at sunset.
We banded two Northern Saw-whet Owls last night. I guess I should say this morning, beacause the first was captured around 2:45am and the second around 5:15am. The first owl was a thrid year female with a full brood patch. The second owl was an after third year female, and she was a big bird by saw-whet standards, weighing 108 grams.
It seems like the owl migration may have finally started up again! We are excited to see what develops over the next few nights. The forecast for tonight is partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 30’s and southeast winds.
Here are a couple of my favorite photos I’ve taken so far this season.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
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
The spring counts are quickly approaching! Here are the dates:
The Raptor Count will take place from March 5th until June 5th. We are pleased to be welcoming back Kevin Georg as our counter for the third year in a row.
Spring Owl Banding will take place at Cheboygan State Park for the second consecutive year. Banding operations will start on March 20th and end on May 15th.
We are excited to announce that this spring we will also be conducting Waterbird Counts from McGulpin Point starting March 25 until May 15, 2016.
We hope to see you are our count locations this spring! We are looking forward to a good year.
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.
Redheads at north end of bridge
The Mighty Mac
Boats at sunrise
Ed scanning the Straits
The waterbird count on Saturday started out with a bang. I had difficulty keeping up with the number of Common Goldeneyes that were flying by. One flock even contained a Hooded Merganser. I believe this was the first Hoody I had counted during the waterbird count. By the end of the first hour the Goldeneye had slowed significantly, but Red-breasted Mergansers then took over to keep things interesting. Other notable species included Red-throated Loons. Ten of them flew by. Of the identified Loons, this meant that more Red-throated than Common were counted, although a few unidentified Loons went by as well. Here are the numbers with some photos and videos to follow.
One of a few Bald Eagles that were flying around the straits.
A flock of Common Goldeneye.
An early morning flock of Common Goldeneye. Even as a silhouette the identification is relatively obvious (for those with experience waterbird counting anyway).
Photo by Emily Grasch. Selena and Ed with the 2100 hour captures. Take note of the slight color differences in each owls’ head and face.
The saw-whets are still on the move and we saw a nice push during the first few hours of the night. Between 2000 hours and 2330 hours, seven saw-whets were captured and banded. The winds really picked up around 2130 hours, which slowed the movement down quite a bit. The last two birds came in at 0330 hours and 0530 hours. I really tried to reach double digits last night, but nine is a great number!
The winds are still pretty strong out of the west at the moment, so I have yet to open the nets. They’re due to die down sometime around midnight, so we’ll give it a shot then.
NSWO: 242 LEOW: 3 BDOW: 1
Long-tailed Duck. 158
Unidentified duck. 107
Common Loon 34
Red-throated Loon 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.
A very slow morning at McGulpin Point. Just a smattering of waterbirds. The highlight was a tight murmuration( or is a group of crows termed a murder?) of 200+ crows that followed the bridge south. A few photos of the bird observers are added here.