As September has winded to a close, the waterbird count has ramped up with intensity. There are waterbirds moving past during most of the counting hours, and the first few continue to be a mirage of varying flocks. Here is what I have been seeing the last few days:
The numbers of loons these last few days has been incredible. In my last 3 counts at Mcgulpin Point, I have racked up over 400 common and red-throated loons. This brings the season total just under 1,000! Additionally, large numbers of scaup, redhead, and unidentified Aythya species are flying East. Both species of scaup will fly fairly close to shore, but the redheads have continued to maintain their distance. The peak season for red-necked grebes is clearly over, but a few birds will still wander through. Additionally, red-breasted mergansers, white-winged scoters, and long-tailed duck all made their season high totals today with 84, 39, and 103 respectively. Overall, the diversity and abundance of waterbirds is pretty spectacular these last few days. We are now at 42 different species of waterbirds and almost 12,000 individual birds!
Rarities: The last few days have also been good in finding somewhat unusual birds in the Straits. For example, a few days ago at Graham Point a juvenile sabine’s gull was seen for nearly an hour resting, foraging, and flying with a large group of ring-billed and herring gulls. Sabine’s gulls are strikingly beautiful, effortless fliers, and generally pelagic in their habits. This bird braved the wind and rain, but never came close to shore for any spectacular shots. Additionally, 2 cackling geese were seen flying over within larger groups of canada’s. These smaller geese used to be lumped into the same species as canada geese, but have since been split apart. They are fairly regular to the region, but still a rare sighting.
Migration in the Straits has been excellent as of late! Hopefully the trend continues and the waterbirds continue to pass through.