Waterbird Count, April 23

Though moderate winds were blowing in from the west this morning, the temperature was maintained at 43°F for nearly the entire day.  The first two hours got expectations running high with a high variety of species, though by 8:00 AM the dark storm clouds forming over the Upper Peninsula was beginning to lower my optimism.  However, before the drizzle started at 10:00 AM, I sighted a pair of two uncommon migrants for mid-spring:  Surf Scoters.  It’s interesting that after confirming their identity I was quick to question myself despite being very familiar with this sea duck.  Though with large, solid black bodies, and the brightly colored bill of the male visible at a great distance, there was no doubt these were not White-winged Scoters, nor breeding male Long-tailed Ducks.  It’s easy to lose faith that you’ll see something interesting within the final hour, because by mid-afternoon, most of the birds in migration stop moving around.  However, within the last thirty minutes of my shift, Mother Nature gave me a Laridae lagniappe:  a Caspian Tern, and the flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls I’ve been waiting for.  The only downside for today was that the wind gradually shifted from west to northwest, which seemed to slow down raptor movement, and did no favors for my eyes.

Canada Goose – 4
Mallard– 2
Redhead– 5
Greater Scaup – 3
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 91
scoter sp. – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 236
Common Merganser – 12
Red-breasted Merganser – 174
Common Loon – 25
Horned Grebe – 3
Double-crested Cormorant – 66
duck sp. – 26
Bonaparte’s Gull – 18
Caspian Tern – 1

Other Species:
Great Blue Heron – 2
Turkey Vulture – 13
Osprey – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 5
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Buteo sp. – 6
Merlin – 2
falcon sp. – 1