April 12th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Light winds out of the north east today with a temperature of 1C. By 7:30AM it had begun to snow lightly. The snow steadily increased and it became quite still. By 10:30 it had switched over to a light drizzle. The barometer fell steadily throughout the day. By 1:30 the precipitation tapered off and the winds picked back up out of the north east. Visibility was limited during the snow and rain to 2km or less. By the end of the count the weather had cleared.

Waterbird Notes –

When I was able to see the birds they were definitely moving. No doubt the poor visibility hindered detections. One advantage to heavy precipitation is it sometime causes the wind to subside and a fog comes in close to shore. Many birds move by much closer to McGulpin which makes spotting and identifying them easier. Redhead came by closer today than they have the entire count thus far, 14 individuals in two flocks. A small group of Bufflehead came close which was nice as it had been a while since I saw them last. COGO were active today with 9 individuals moving through, 8 in 1 group. COME were a big surprise today with 50 individuals spotted, moving throughout the count today.

Non- waterbird Notes –

The usual feeder birds were happy to visit considering the storm forecast over the weekend. Nothing special to report today though.

Wildlife-

A red squirrel was spotted running around on the bench in the gazebo behind where I sit during the count.  I believe it may be assessing the scene for a possible cookie theft.  Otherwise it was non- confrontational and preferred to find its way to the seeds the PISI are shoveling out of the hopper feeder onto the ground.

Freighters-

Arnold Freight Co was out in the shipping channel at 2:30.

Visitors –

A member of the Coast Guard came by to inspect the reports of discolored ice. He was unprepared to take photos or make observations and he eventually asked if he could use my spotting scope. In addition to the Coast Guard two members of the USDA stopped by and were quite helpful in spotting birds as there were several flocks moving in between the time the snow transitioned to rain. They had brought binoculars. Both were quite informative on what types of behavior I should be on the look out for with consideration to waterbirds in distress. Their level of outreach, information they shared and willingness to take reports was greatly appreciated. Towards the end of the day the Bund family of Harbor Springs stopped by. The Bund’s are supporters of MSRW and we had a nice visit even though the drizzle made observing waterbirds less than ideal.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Snow and freezing rain before noon, then rain and snow. High near 34. East wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. New snow accumulation of around 2 inches.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

There has been a request to post an explanation of the 4- letter codes used as a shorthand for bird names. This link here will take you to the master list prepared by Peter Pyle at IBP. This is the 2017 supplement so it may not be the newest. It should have all the common species observed at McGulpin Point. It certainly saves time on a daily basis such that I am not typing Red-breasted Merganser repeatedly.

An initial trial of using my cell phone as a wi-fi hotspot to relay the waterbird migration via Dunkadoo has been assessed. With all of the cold weather this spring it drains my phone battery in a couple hours. This requires additional effort to fish out a battery pack, plug in the phone and find a suitable place inside my parka. As the migration begins to ramp up additional distractions and fidgeting with cables and cold hands isn’t a high priority. Keeping my binoculars and spotting scope clear of snow, rain and fog is a priority. As such I have decided to end the live broadcast that was in a feed here. No need to fret! I will upload the tally upon my return to Kathy and Jim Bricker’s homestead in the afternoon and as always will type in my observations to eBird. Please forgive this interruption in the live broadcast, but as migration ramps up rest assured I am focusing my energy on documenting the waterbird migration in Mackinac Straits!