Midseason Review

Things have been going really well at the waterbird count as of late. The timing is everything, however. Early in the morning there is a rush of birds and the activity steeply drops off in the afternoon. But I wanted to take a look at the first half of the season’s migration count. The halfway point happened about a week ago and so these totals reflect the bird’s seen at the point in time. There has since been an incredibly large number of ducks that have been seen, but those will be included in the season end count.

 # Waterbird SpeciesWaterbird Abundance# Bird SpeciesTotal Bird Abundance
Graham Point335,619927,877
Mcgulpin Point307,429889,389
Data Totals4213,04811917,266

This chart compares the number of waterbird species, individuals, and the same for all bird species combined. Counting at 2 locations has allowed us to analyze differences in how the Straits are used by migrating waterbirds. This isn’t a very detailed analysis because that will come at the end of the season, but it does summarize the first half fairly well. That being said, there is subtle biases that could easily go unnoticed with this data. For instance, there is quite a few more waterbirds being seen at Mcgulpin compared to Graham Point (1,812 more). However, this is misleading because there was a stretch of consecutive survey days at Mcgulpin that perfectly aligned with strong NW winds and clear skies, while Graham was relegated to rain and foggy days. Therefore taking these differences in total with a grain of salt is very important. I do find it interesting that Graham Point has recorded 3 more waterbird species. This location has some features that Mcgulpin does not, such as the bay to the West, buoys in the lake, and protected area near St. Ignace. This has allowed for species such as parasite jaeger, sabine’s gull, wood duck, mute swan, trumpeter swan, and black scoter to all be seen from this location, but not the other. Mcgulpin has seen many more waterbirds, and although there is the obvious bias, there does seem to be a noticeable difference. Birds fly closer to Mcgulpin Point and are generally more active throughout the day than from Graham. I think that the species’ totals for Mcgulpin will slowly catch up with Graham, as this sight has seen so many more birds thus far.

                As for all other birds, there has been almost identical checklists for both of the sights. This has surprised me, because Mcgulpin Point has much more traditional habitat for songbirds etc… However, Graham has held its own, thanks to the deciduous trees, beaches, and bushes from neighboring properties. The first half of the season started off very slow and picked up in late September. Having over 13,000 waterbirds thus far is an overall fantastic start. I am looking to the future surveys to exponentially build upon these totals and make this a great migration season.