Sep 3 – Sep 6 2020

Sep 3: I went into this day knowing that there was a thunderstorm on the horizon. The second I started my count, I could begin to see the storm pushing across the islands to the west and making its way towards me. I had great company throughout the morning, and we were able to find some good waterbirds that had decided to get in front of the storm. There was a group of blue-winged teal (6) that flew past the point, as well as a handful of red-necked grebes (2), common loons (13), common mergansers (3), horned grebes (4), and a single red-throated loon. Although I had to cut the day short, I was able to get in a good amount of study and reading in to supplement the day and prepare for some future surveys.

Sep 4: September 4th was a fairly slow down as far as numbers, but above average for bird diversity. Early in the morning, when the light was faint and the waves were tall, a small group of ducks sped past in the distance. Even though I saw them for a little while, I couldn’t make out any identifiable traits. This always bums me out when I can’t pick up on a bird that flies past, but the truth is that it happens. A little while later a dashingly handsome male common goldeneye flew by just a few meters from shore to cheer me up and get me back on track. Overall, the usual species all showed up: red-necked grebe (7), common loon (29), common merganser (4), blue-winged teal (4), and horned grebe (1). There was a small flock of “peeps” that flew past as well. A “peep” is a generic term for a small shorebird, especially the smaller sandpipers which can be hard to distinguish. For me, these peeps were flying fast over the water and I was only able to narrow it down to semipalmated or least sandpiper.

Sep 5: September 5th was a beautiful day! I had great company again for most of the day, which makes counting all the more exciting. Luckily, a few common loons and red-necked grebes flew by much closer than usual and allowed for excellent views. The day as a whole yielded steady numbers of red-necked grebes (91), common loons (15), and canada geese (109). I also counted 22 bald eagles, mostly all flying parallel to the Mackinac Bridge heading south. There was also a fair number of shorebirds that moved past. Semipalmated sandpiper (8), spotted sandpiper (1), and sanderling (1) all flew past. Although none made the kind gesture of stopping on the beach to allow for observation, they flew just feet from shore, a gift of its own. One of the better days of migration so far, with red-necked grebes continuing to be the star of the season so far. Ed Pike dropped off a new sweatshirt for me, and I have fallen in love with it! The new design is fantastic, and I recommend everyone get one of your own!

Sep 6: For the first time this season, I realized just how cold Michigan can get. The wind was whipping from the Southeast early in the morning and chilling an already cold day. I was repping my new MSRW sweatshirt and hiding behind a small willow for parts of the morning. It seemed that the birds were equally bothered by the strong Southerly winds, as nearly nothing passed by. There were some common loons (10) throughout the day, a group of red-breasted mergansers (5), red-necked grebes (3), common mergansers (2), and common goldeneyes (2). Even the bountiful double-crested cormorants seemed somewhat unwilling to fly in large groups today. I heard a new species for the season, pileated woodpecker calling in the distance this morning, but the highlight of the day came from the local beach dog. Almost every survey I have conducted at Graham point, there has been an old dog that wanders down to the beach. Clearly old and cautious, the dog relaxes in the sun for a while before moving on back through the neighborhood. I don’t get many visitors, and having a short period of canine company is something I always look forward to.

I have not gone through the pictures on my camera, but these are some bird photos that I snapped through the spotting scope. I apologize for the quality!

Adult male merlin (Falco columbarius) at Graham Point
Adult common loon (Gavia immer)
Juvenile common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula).