April 25th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

Trace amount of rain in the area overnight. Even though the temperature was 2.8C it seemed cold as wind was blowing out of the north west at 19kph. The sunrise was awesome and it lit up the birds well for the first few hours before it clouded up. The barometer rose slightly through the count. 21 cm of snow still remain from the last storm at McGulpin Point.

Waterbird Notes –

Slow day for waterbirds in the straits. Fortunately Leonard Graf was on deck to help with detections. Leonard helped me hone my GRSC (2) / LESC (10) skills. He also picked up a HOGR (1) and RNGR (1) at nearly 3 miles. We both enjoyed the light this morning on the (20) COLO.

I did want to provide an update on how this years count has been going. For most of the beginning of the count waterbirds were unable to use the area in front of McGulpin Point due to ice. Another issue was poor weather conditions to count in, both visibility being and issue and an inability to keep blowing snow off the binoculars and spotting scope. The first 3 weeks of the count shouldn’t be considered an accurate approximation of birds using the straits as it was less than ideal for a host of reasons to even detect them. Fortunately for me I am just now feeling comfortable with a routine of capturing the migrants in the tablet and scanning properly to pick up as many birds as is possible.  As of today 18,794 birds have been counted of 73 species. Not all of the birds counted are waterbirds as I am counting everything that flies or calls. Since migration is hardly underway I would imagine it will be easy to exceed 20,000 birds during this seasons count. I am keeping busy and on task attempting to capture as much information as is possible about waterbird migration. The days literally fly by when there are plenty of birds to count! I have a routine of spiffing out my tally at the end of the day, transferring the information to eBird and putting up a blog post. After that very little daylight is left to cook up some food and set up camp.

Non- waterbird Notes –

A lone adult male NOHA (1) was spotted early in the morning setting off across the straits near McGulpin Rock. A cold and windy day quieted things down in the forest behind the gazebo.




Spencer F. Baird west bound 9:50, Pere Marquette west bound 10:49, Manitowoc west bound 12:38 and RTC 100 east bound at 12:41.

Visitors –

Leonard Graf lent his expertise in spotting and identifying distant waterbirds for 3 hours of the count today. I greatly appreciate his skills and knowledge as new species continue to pour through the straits. Bev and Jack Kirby came down to say hello and brought some snacks. Joe of DEQ and Caroline who is The Great Lakes Policy Specialist for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians visited during the end of the count. It was interesting to learn about the tribes perspective of the straits.

“The LTBB are people of the water. The Odawa people originated from the water and will return to the water. The plants, wildlife, and aquatic life that are dependent on clean water are used for cultural, ceremonial, medicinal uses, and for food.”

They see the area and its waters as sacred. Having had a brief glimpse of migration through the straits I believe their understanding of this special place is the most fitting.

Update on the road situation. The parking lot has melted out nicely, but care should be taken not to park in a soupy spot. In the afternoon the road down becomes a creek with snowmelt running down it and the parking lot becomes a quagmire. Clearance no longer is an issue and I would imagine most vehicles could make it in and out as long as care is taken in assessing where to park.

Total observer hours – 8.0

Next days forecast –

Sunny, with a high near 47. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.

Total Species: 35

Total Count : 940

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