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Slow days continue for waterfowl at Cheboygan SP

3/31. Another day of almost nonexistent migration at Cheboygan SP. A bitter wind was roaring out of the North, only picking up after sunrise. What few birds were flying were visibly struggling—both gull species flew close to shore, and a pair of adult bald eagles looked almost like black vultures with their labored wingbeats. One of these birds took three different tries to fly past where I was stationed. 

Red-breasted mergs and goldeneyes were the only waterfowl spp. showing in any numbers, with decent flights North over two hours, with no loafing birds seen. However, I had a suspicion that many were still local birds heading to a more sheltered area nearby. With wind only increasing and temperatures hovering low, I decided once more to head to the Cheboygan River mouth to look for sheltering birds and fallouts.

Perhaps as expected, a large congregation of goldeneyes had gathered in the River mouth, with around 45 seen mixed with a few red-breasted mergs near the ice edge. Heat shimmer and piled ice made it impossible to see the open water out towards Bois Blanc, but I suspect that many of the moving mergs and goldeneyes that passed the State Park today were staging somewhere out in that direction, as large numbers of both spp. were seen there yesterday. A couple nice surprises: a pied-billed grebe diving by the marina (almost certainly the same individual I saw at Cheboygan SP a few days ago), and a singing adult male Northern shrike in the riverside brush. I heard this bird yesterday but had no idea what it could be, as I’d never heard the song before. Nice to get good views!

More Southerly/Easterly winds predicted for tomorrow and scattered days throughout this week, so should be some decent movements once more. The straits are still locked up, though there are promising signs: on a ski at Headlands Park this afternoon, I couldn’t miss the line of massive ice crushes running along the shoreline, where the sheet in the middle of the straits has rammed against the sheets along the shore. Still, most of the blocks tossed about by this action are at least a few feet thick, so thaw-out may be a ways away yet!

Hourly totals:

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54425310

4/1. Surprisingly slow day. Began promisingly, with light wind out of the Southeast, and clear skies, and I was expecting a decent push of both waterfowl and passerines. Perplexingly, almost nothing showed within identifiable range, with four red-breasted mergs the only definitive Northward fliers of the waterfowl cohort. Gull movements were decent, but lower than previous pushes—both species seem to move here in at least some numbers regardless of wind and weather conditions. 

Unfortunately, winds shifted after about an hour, and a Northwest wind further depressed what little was moving. The Coast Guard icebreaker went by close to Bois Blanc around this time, and I noticed it was churning up a lot of ice from the water out beyond the heat-shimmer line (about two miles out). Most likely yesterday’s Northwesterly winds shifted a large portion of detached ice mass to this side of the channel, and indeed, on closer inspection, I found there were significant numbers of ice floes behind the heat shimmer line across most of the horizon. This could have acted as a migratory barrier, despite the favorable winds, as I’ve noticed in the preceding week that when ice floes occupy a significant amount of the channel’s surface area, more migrant waterfowl tend to fall out and loaf near the ice-line. As if to confirm this hypothesis, I spotted a far-off group (maybe 4-5 miles out) of 45 ducks—likely Aythya sp. headed swiftly Northeast, beyond Bois Blanc. 

The one highlight of the day was a lone adult sandhill crane, who came in low and calling from the East and flew Northwest towards town. From the sounds of things shortly after, this flyover caused some commotion with a local raven pair. 

Hourly totals:

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54446284

4/2: Another slow day. Woke up at 6:15 to dense fog in front of the house, and rain passing over Cheboygan, so I waited an hour for things to clear and got out to the site by 8:20 hoping for fallouts. Unfortunately, despite mild winds and improving visibility, almost nothing was migrating, with most passing waterfowl moving locally. Sporadic flights of blackbirds and robins in the first hour, and a handful of ever-migrating gulls, but otherwise not much activity. 

Have developed the theory that there may be a large mass of ice floes somewhere south of here (perhaps near Presque Isle County) stymieing migration, as on previous days at this site, large migratory flocks have fallen out and loafed when they reach a front of high ice floe density. Hopefully these blocks will clear out with more wind and warm weather. 

After a couple hours, I decided to head to the Cheboygan River mouth, but again came up short, with most of the same local birds, and the singing male shrike now moved on to other environs. 

However, promising signs from the straits, as several narrow open-water channels were visible between ice sheets today, so a strong wind could open up a lot of countable water—stay tuned!

Hourly totals: 

eBird lists: 

Cheboygan SP: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54500701

Cheboygan River Mouth: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54479697

Waterbirds slowed by wind and weather (Cheboygan SP)

3/29: A slow day off Cheboygan State Park, as a persistent NW wind offshore was working against migrants, and had additionally driven a large mass of ice sheets into the channel. Numbers were good in the first hour, especially among gulls, which turned up in the hundreds in the hour around sunrise, when the wind was lighter. Decent numbers of goldeneyes and mergansers, too, although groups of both were seen loafing and feeding throughout the morning, so many may be moving locally. A single flock of mallards and one of ring-necks rounded out duck numbers for this hour.

In the ensuing hours, wind increased, and migration slowed to a trickle by 10 AM, with just a pair of geese and a handful of gulls moving North amidst otherwise local movements. Scattered passerine movements, with grackles, red-wings, robins, and two more Eastern bluebirds on the move. Also picked out what I determined was an acceptable candidate for a rusty blackbird—its flight call stood out as immediately distinct from the other icterids, and matched pretty closely with recordings.

Hourly totals:

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54348859

3/30: Even slower day, as a massive snow front was moving through from the Southwest, just a few miles South of the watch location. Cloud movement confirmed that winds in this system were persistent, and the snow was falling heavily, as it obscured much of the Eastern horizon. 

This front was almost certainly acting as a near-impenetrable migratory barrier, as Northward fliers up Michigan’s East coast would have to work very hard not to be swept off to the East. This effect was visibly the case, as the only ducks moving in North substantial numbers were seen at a distance of maybe five miles—barely visible through the scope, and moving around the East side of Bois Blanc Island with the wind. 

Movements within identifiable range were essentially nonexistent, with a single flock of mallards the only Northward-flying ducks besides goldeneyes, long-tails and mergansers (many of which, again, were likely local birds). The largest collective movement (4 Canada goose, 2 red-breasted mergs, and 6 goldeneyes) was produced by a passing immature bald eagle. Even the previously hardy gulls were in short supply, and these were flying much higher than their congeners in the previous few days. 

The largest flock seen was one of 18 Canada geese, which flew in low from inland and headed ENE towards Bois Blanc Island (most geese entering the channel here over the past few days have tended a bit more Easterly than passing duck flocks, but these birds were headed almost due East. 

With a check of the radar, I found the front would not be passing until afternoon, so I headed to the Cheboygan River mouth at 9:30 to see if any fallouts were loafing around. This location was relatively unproductive, too. Large numbers of geese and mergansers were loafing, but these were likely local birds, as were the pair of greater scaup and the ring-neck male nearby. Decent movement out beyond the ice edge, but again entirely goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, and long-tailed duck, and with no strong Northward trend.

Promising signs, though, as a large wedge of open water out towards Bois Blanc appears to be making its way towards the Bridge, so hopefully the straits open up soon! Red-winged blackbirds, grackles, mourning doves, and song sparrows singing aplenty.

Hourly totals (Cheboygan SP):

eBird lists:

Cheboygan SP: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54392828

Cheboygan River: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54366121

Migrants abound at Cheboygan SP (still waiting on straits)

3/27: First full morning at Cheboygan SP, and conditions were optimal, with considerable numbers and diversity of migrating waterfowl, raptors, and passerines, with some other surprises, too!

Started at 7:15 to a rosy sunrise, glassy inshore waters now completely clear of ice floes, and a steady Southeasterly breeze scalloping the waters further out. Waterbirds were already on the move: large numbers of herring gulls (at an estimated rate of 1-5 per minute) were driving Northwest a couple miles offshore, all headed towards their island breeding colonies up in the straits. Common goldeneye, mallard, and all three merg species were moving, too, and one group loafing just offshore was joined briefly by a smart little male bufflehead, who continued on NW a few minutes later. Long-tailed ducks were swirling about in a large feeding/loafing assemblage way offshore, and many more ducks were on the move towards the East side of Bois Blanc Island, but were too far off to identify.

Goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, and mallard numbers peaked in the second hour, and herring gull numbers had begun to decline, but were continuing steadily. Ring-billed gulls were moving, too, though these seemed much more tied to the shoreline, as most were well within binocular range. Waterbirds in general tended closer to shore than in the first hour, as the Southeast wind continued.

Duck diversity peaked in Hour 3, with a flyby flock of mallards and black ducks that included a surprise pintail pair—a first for Cheboygan SP. Red-breasted mergansers continued in large numbers, and Canada goose flights reached their peak. By now, the temperature had risen by about 5°C, but a Northwesterly breeze had picked up in inshore waters, and appeared to be depressing flights somewhat. What’s more, the goose flocks now were being pushed towards Bois Blanc Island, instead of continuing right up to the straits. 

By 1015, most waterbirds had passed peak numbers, though a migrating bald eagle that had just reached the South tip of Bois Blanc appeared to have dislodged a large group of loafing ducks: 3 red-breasted mergs flew NW, one flew SE, five long-tailed ducks flew about a quarter-mile before landing to the South, and, most surprising, an early pair of white-winged scoters set off to the South in the commotion. Another first for the park.

I concluded the waterbird count at 1115 as numbers of all species had dwindled to a trickle, and focused my efforts for the next 45 minutes on getting a sense of whether this site hosted decent raptor movement, as well. Rewarded with a circling immature golden eagle, several more balds, and a pair of unidentified large accipiters.

Perhaps most remarkable today was the great diversity of moving passerines and other small birds: I had a killdeer, a male kingfisher, an early eastern bluebird, a pine grosbeak, a white-winged crossbill, a pine siskin, and 16 redpolls, all flying Northwest. Robins, grackles, and blackbirds were also streaming past, with 20-30 of each species, though I’m sure I undercounted as many were heard-only above the canopy. What’s more, had a single crow and a single raven—both far out over the water headed North—so corvids may also be migrating.

Hourly Spp. Totals:

Full eBird List: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54275910


3/28

Another stellar day at the start of waterfowl migration in the area! Far fewer passerines, as a moderate yet steady Northwesterly breeze may have proved difficult to fly against; but the wind did little to suppress northward waterbird movements, and flocks were steadily churning up the channel between Cheboygan and Bois Blanc Island for all five hours. 

Just before sunrise, the ring-billed gulls put on a real spectacle, flying over en masse just above the shoreline (143 of the total 150 Northward migrants for the day were seen in the first hour, and 83 of these within the first ten minutes of the count). Herring gull numbers were down from yesterday, with 52 total birds, most likely due to the heavier wind further out, where most of them were flying yesterday. 

The heavy-hitting waterfowl today were the mallards, with 167 total birds. Most of these came in small flocks of 5-15, and many flocks contained surprises! Seen with mallard flocks today were two wood duck pairs, ten pintails, a wigeon pair, a green-winged teal pair, a male shoveler, and healthy helpings of ring-necked ducks, redheads, and black ducks. Goldeneyes were also moving in large numbers, with 82 Northward fliers. Some of these may have been local birds, as regular handfuls of goldeneye were seen loafing and diving near the shoreline; but the majority set an unwavering trajectory Northward in flocks of 5-10. 

Red-breasted and common mergs were moving North in smaller numbers, with many local loafers. Uptick in buffleheads as well. Goldeneyes, red-breasted mergansers, and mallards were all performing breeding displays, at times turning their loafing flocks into an array of office desk toys.

Another surprise was a very contented pied-billed grebe, which was seen on and off throughout the five-hour count period as it dove for food. 

Raptor numbers were surprisingly low given what came through at the Hawk Watch today, but I did have four immature bald eagles put on a show, continually harassing the loafing flocks of dabblers and divers, especially as increasing wind and a growing mass of ice floes seemed to hamper Northward progress for several large mixed flocks, making them sitting ducks in both the literal and figurative sense! Single male harrier, too, flying Southwest from Bois Blanc.

Hourly Totals:

eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54322611

Straits Still Frozen

3/26: Recap of Days 1-9.

Winter continues for Mackinaw waterfowl, as the straits remain locked beneath a foot of ice—in fact, the only waterfowl in Emmet County so far was a single Canada goose in a wet depression off of the road to Wilderness S.P. Hence, we’ve had to be a bit creative about finding ways to count. 

The Cheboygan River, mostly ice free, has been pretty productive. Ed and I had a good morning here on my first full day (3/19), with 11 waterfowl species (lists below). Most appeared to be local over-winterers, though a few new migrants had arrived. Highlights included two pairs of hoodies below the Dentist’s office, and the first wood duck pair of the year at the end of Mill St. One of the owl-banders says he saw a shoveler on the river recently, but this did not show for us.

River mouth: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54022354

First bridge: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54022384

River lock: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54022466

Below dentist’s office: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54022495

Upriver stops: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54022552

Returned to the river lock for photos in the evening, and picked out a greater scaup pair among the milling mallards, redheads, and goldeneyes, plus a new pair of black ducks:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54024207

3/19-3/22: For the next few days, water-birding was minimal, and I spent most birding time at the hawk watch, plus some exploring in Chippewa county (primarily on the lookout for my lifer sharp-tailed grouse and the abundant snowy owls in the area):

Snowy Owl, Pickford, Chippewa County

Fortunately, on the evening of the 20th, after helping with owl nets in the afternoon, I discovered that the channel East of Cheboygan State Park was essentially ice-free; what’s more, I had a flyby group of long-tail ducks while standing, binocular-less, on my skis—so surely there was more to be found further out!

3/23: Quick scouting trip on the evening of the 23rd, once I’d picked up the scope and data sheets. It was a calm evening, with relatively minimal movement, though both merg species were present, and herring gulls were moving purposefully offshore.  

List:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54150722

3/24: The morning of the 24th was surprisingly productive. A relatively warm start grew colder over the two hours I was there, as an increasing wind out of the East eventually brought fog and light snow, and with it, a number of birds from further out on Lake Huron—most notably, a flock of 25 redheads that cruised in from open water and banked up towards the straits to the NW. Also notable: a continuing pattern of herring gulls flying steadily NW, most likely towards island breeding colonies up near Bois Blanc and Mackinac Is. An adult male harrier cruised over at 11:58, headed out towards Bois Blanc—likely island-hopping. Overall breakdown:

CAGO: 1 adult flying NW
MUSW: 1 adult flying NW
MALL: pair flying NW; 2 males flying SE
CANV: female flying NW
REDH: 25 adults flying NW
LTDU: male flying NW; 5 males, 1 female loafing
COME: 8 males flying NW
RBME: 5 males; 5 females flying NW
COME/RBME: pair flying NW
duck sp.: 9 flying NW
RBGU: 1 adult flying NW
HEGU: 20 adults flying NW, 4 adults flying SE (likely recounts), 2 adults loafing
NOHA: male flying East to Bois Blanc I.

List:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54172784

3/25: Both overall numbers and species diversity decreased on the 24th, as a moderate yet bitter wind from the NW fronted down from the still-frozen straits. The watch began with a good deal more ice just off the beach, as a large jam appeared to have rumbled down from near the straits. However, this cleared as the wind picked up, leaving mostly open water out to where the heat shimmer began to affect visibility. No new or particularly notable species. Another steady flight of herring gulls, mostly NW. Overall breakdown:

CAGO: 4 adults flying NW
MUSW: 1 adult flying NW
TRSW: 2 adults flying NW
LTDU: 1 adult flying NW
COGO: 3 males, 1 female flying NW; 2 males, 1 female flying SE (one male a likely recount)
COME: 1 male flying NW
RBME: 1 male flying NW; 6 males 6 females loafing.
COME/RBME: pair flying NW
duck sp.: 3 flying NW, likely LTDU
RBGU: 1 flying NW
HEGU: 17 adults, 1 1CY flying NW, 2 adults flying SE (likely recounts)
BAEA: 2 local birds

List:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54212538

The morning of the 26th was even slower, with temperatures hovering around freezing for the hour I was there, and originally stagnant winds picking up once more into a North-westerly breeze. Seemed to be mostly local back-and-forth movement today, aside from continuing steady herring gull flights.
A thin sheen of ice webbed between the larger blocks on the near-shore waters, leaving only the outer channel free for scanning for most of the count period. Heat shimmer was a real issue today, though I managed to pick out a few long-tails by their batlike wings as they ducked above and below the line of invisibility within the heat shimmer, and by their eventual emphatic bellyflop-landings, which due to the warping and magnification of the heat shimmer, looked as if they must be 20 feet tall. Red-breasted mergs were also identifiable in the heat, especially as the males began their comical duck-and-bob displays, though these, too, appeared absurdly disproportioned. Overall breakdown:

CAGO: 2 heard only
LTDU: 3 loafing.
COGO: 2 males, 2 females flying SE
RBME: 3 males, 1 female loafing; 2 males flying NW
duck sp.: 10 loafing, probably RBME
HEGU: 22 flying NW, 1 flying SE (likely recount)
BAEA: 1 immature flying SE from Bois Blanc, one (presumably local) adult overhead

List:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S54243697

Have been getting out later than I’d like as I’ve been trying to sleep off a cold, but planning a full pre-sunrise-to-noon count tomorrow. 

19 Golden Eagles

19 Golden Eagles were seen today along with first of the season Kestrel,Goshawk and Cooper’s Hawk 23 Bald Eagles were also counted along with 2 light-morph Rough-legged Hawks also had a Northern Loggerhead Shrike

Spring migration trickles along

Spring migration has been trickling along.  On March 17 we had a good day with 40 Bald Eagles and 28 Golden Eagles and a few other Hawks for a total of 74 for the day.  Other days there have been just a few Raptors migrating.  On March 19 the first Turkey Vulture appeared.  Daily numbers can be seen at Hawkcount.org.

On March 24 the first Am. Robins, Common Grackles and Redwinged Blackbirds were seen at the Hawk Watch Site and the first E. Meadowlark landed in a tree and sang for the hawk watchers.

Hopefully this next week, with the predicted sunny weather more Raptors will be migrating.

Another quiet day at the Hawk Watch

A couple more days with mostly sunny skies and moderate winds. However the raptors have not made it this far north and the skies are mostly empty. A couple of local Bald Eagles make an appearance during the day and then move back to the south. Maybe there will be some migration in front of the storm system moving in on Saturday night.

2019 Hawk Count begins

The spring 2019 Hawk Count officially began March 5. With partly sunny skies we had hoped for a few raptors, especially a Golden Eagle or 2 and some Red-tails. It seems migration is somewhat behind this year. With 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground and daytime temperatures in the teens and nights around zero there seems to be little interest in migration yet.

Hopefully with sunny skies and slightly warmer temps some Raptors will be thinking about migration on Friday and Saturday

Hawk Count-October 25th-30th-Golden Eagles

One of twenty-one Golden Eagles on the 29th

Raptors have slowed down quite a bit during the period, with the first half of it once again impacted by poor weather.  The 29th was by far the best day for raptors.  Thanks to Steve and Ed for covering on the 27th and 28th.

buy propecia from usa official website 10-25: A drizzle in the morning gradually turned into rain at 1:00, at which point it rained the rest of the day.  Just 1 Red-shouldered and 1 Rough-legged were tallied.

10-26: Rain throughout the day.

10-27:  A drizzle to light rain all day resulted in just 4 Sharpies, 20 Red-taileds, 2 Rough-leggeds, and a Merlin being tallied.  One “dark morph” Red-tailed was also tallied.

10-28: Forty-six raptors were tallied, the highlights being 2 Harriers, 1 Red-shouldered, and 8 Rough-legged Hawks.

10-29:  A high-quality day with nice numbers of the “later” migrants.  Golden Eagles were moving through most of the day, the best of which was when 3 were seen simultaneously crossing south in different flight paths.  All Goldens crossed with virtually no hesitation, most of which were adults.  At  the end of the day a rather nice total of 21 Golden Eagles were tallied.  Rough-legged Hawks had their first push of the season, with 19 birds, and Red-shouldered Hawks continued in good numbers, with 11 birds.  The accipiter hat trick was completed for the 3rd time this season, the best of which was an immature Northern Goshawk.  Bald Eagles finally made a decent push, with 13 birds.  Surprisingly, this is the largest number seen in a day this month.  An American Kestrel was the first in 9 days.

10-30:  An overcast day, with moderate southeast winds led to a small movement of raptors.  Two Golden Eagles were the best of the 49 raptors tallied, with 5 Red-shoulderedsa Rough-legged, and a “dark morph” Red-tailed nice as well.

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Non-raptors have been rather great lately, with a much more “wintery” feel to them.  The best of the period has been 77 Snow Buntings on the 25th, 112 Sandhill Cranes on the 27th, 566 Sandhill Cranes on the 28th, 166 Sandhill Cranes on the 29th, a Sharp-tailed Grouse on the 28th and 29th, 46 Rusty Blackbirds on the 28th, 18 American Tree Sparrows on the 28th, an American Pipit on the 28th, a Northern Shrike on the 29th and 30th, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the 29th, a White-winged Crossbill on the 29th, 722 Long-tailed Ducks on the 30th, a Great Blue Heron on the 30th, a White-crowned Sparrow on the 30th, a Common Redpoll on the 30th, and 645 American Goldfinches on the 30th.

Hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks were flying west over the woods on the 30th

A Northern Shrike has been around the past couple of days

Thursday through Saturday look really good for raptor migration and this period is very likely the “last hurrah” of any sizable migration of raptors for the season.  Friday and Saturday are likely to be the best of the three.  Large numbers (for Pointe LaBarbe) of Red-shouldered Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, and Golden Eagles are likely to pass through this period.  The last remaining big Red-tailed days are likely to be during this period as well, with 400-1,000 birds likely moving through during these three days.  Northern Goshawks should be daily, and their biggest day of the season is likely to occur during this period.  If there are any 20+ Bald Eagle days left this season, they should occur during this periodHundreds of Sandhill Cranes, thousands of finches, and hundreds-thousands of ducks are all likely as well.  Thousands of birds should move through these three days, and it’ll be a great finale to the season.

Grant it, the season goes until November 14th, but after November 3rd hawk migration will be rapidly winding down, and the theme of October will continue into November: bad weather for raptor migration.  Of course, the forecast will change many times between now and the end of the season, but the forecast image below is incredibly ominous.  There should be a few nice days of raptor migration left after November 3rd, but it’ll greatly pale in comparison to October (or earlier).

If the forecast significantly alters for Thursday through Saturday, updates will be posted here.

The most disheartening forecast of the season for Pointe LaBarbe but it will undoubtedly change and not be as bad as is currently predicted…right???  (Image courtesy of weather.com)

Hawk Count-October 20th-24th

One of three Goshawks on the 23rd

Red-shouldered Hawk

The past 5 days has been rather nice for raptor migration, with no weather significantly impacting the count.  In fact, more than 1,000 raptors have passed through, or 15% of the season’s count.  The typical late-season raptors have been picking up quite a bit, especially Red-shouldered HawksSeventy-four have been tallied in the last 5 days, with a peak of 25 on the 20th.  Nearly all have been adults.  Turkey Vultures have dropped off significantly, with only a modest peak of 67 on the 22nd.  It appears they may be done with big numbers for the season, which is rather surprising given the weather this season.  Likewise, Bald Eagles have occurred in much smaller numbers than expected for October and no double digit days have occurred since the 2nd.  Also following suit slowing down are Sharp-shinned Hawks with a very small peak of 7 on the 22nd.  Northern Goshawks have been nice to see, with an adult on the 20th and 2 adults and an immature on the 23rd.  Red-tailed Hawks have been moving through in consistently moderate numbers, with a few hundred most days now.  The peak of the period (and season) occurred on the 22nd, with 335 birds tallied.  “Dark Morph” Red-tailed Hawks have occurred on a few days, with a peak of 4 on the 22nd. We are in Rough-legged Hawk season now and 2-5 birds have been daily.  The start of peak Golden Eagle migration is upon us, with lone birds tallied on the 21st and 22nd, and four on the 24th.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

We have definitely shifted more towards “quality raptors” vs. big numbers at this point in the season.  It was hoped that with the poor weather this month, large numbers of Turkey Vultures and moderate numbers of Sharp-shinned Hawks still would have continued, particularly the last 2 days.  Additionally, it seemed set up for a monster Red-tailed day on either of the last 2 days, but that has not occurred.  With a fair amount of rain now forecast through the rest of October, it’ll be really interesting to see what Red-taileds do through the rest of the month and season.  Have they already peaked?  Regardless, it’s still an exciting 3 weeks ahead of us, with Rough-legged Hawk and Golden Eagle peaks still ahead of us, and possibly Goshawks as well.

Recent non-raptor highlights have included over 500 Sandhill Cranes, dozens of White-winged Scoters, hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks, daily Horned Grebes on the lake, a Sanderling, Greater Yellowlegs, a  Great Black-backed Gull, hundreds of Crows, dozens of Chickadees, and the (presumed) long-staying Carolina Wren.  Snow Buntings and Redpolls arrived on the 21st, and American Tree Sparrow on the 24th.

Great Black-backed Gull