Waterbird Count, April 12

This morning had a rude surprise to start the day:  evidence of snow the previous night all over the ground, and light snow during the count at approximately 7:30 AM.  In fact, there was so much ice on the ground, that the Mackinac Bridge had been closed down, and only when the heat of the day started melting the ice away did traffic become visible again.  One thing worth noting was that as the ice melted, the wind started blowing it off the bridge in huge chunks, and I had initially mistaken these falling ice blocks for terns dive bombing for fish.  Although the morning was cold and windy, the bird activity was wild, and the weather continued to improve throughout the day.  I was fortunate enough to be visited by Ed Pike at around 9:30 AM for him to check on my progress and give me new data sheets.  Before his visit I spotted a first cycle Greater Black-backed Gull, and no sooner after he arrived did we find the first Bonaparte’s Gull for the season.  There were also high counts of Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters and Common Loons spread throughout the day rather than concentrated in the early hours.  The activity of the other birds around McGulpin Point was also exceptional.  There was the first confirmed Golden Eagle moving north above the bridge, Sandhill Cranes, a myriad of Red-tailed Hawks, and even an Osprey.  As April moves along, I wait in anticipation for growing numbers of summer visitors and migrants out on the straits.

Canada Goose – 10
Redhead – 8
White-winged Scoter – 44
Long-tailed Duck – 305
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 23
Red-breasted Merganser – 96
Common Loon – 13
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 27
Bonaparte’s Gull– 1
Great Black-backed Gull – 1
duck sp. – 24

Other Species:
Turkey Vulture – 21
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
Golden Eagle – 1
Bald Eagle – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 48
Buteo sp. – 1
Sandhill Crane – 12