Fall Waterbird Count: Week 1

Fall migration is well underway in the Straits! The season is lengthy, and waterbirds will gradually come in waves over the next three months. Fall movements are amplified by Northwest winds and inclement weather conditions. 

Shorebirds are early migrants in the fall. Small flyby groups were a common occurrence this week. Between the hawkwatch and waterbird count, 16 species have already been recorded. This includes sightings of Whimbrel, Red Knot, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper. 

Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe are among the first waterbirds to move south through the Straits. The majority of the count this week has been focused on these two species. Small numbers of Green-winged Teal were also recorded. Flocks of Canada Geese are beginning to mass together in the area.

Once uncommon this far north, Great Egrets have expanded their range over the last century. On 08/24/2023, an impressive flock of 67 was spotted from McGulpin Point heading South. 

The highlight for the count this week occurred from Graham Point on 08/23/2023. After a miserable morning of constant rain and strong SE winds, a stunning adult Long-tailed Jaeger suddenly appeared during the final hour of the count. Amazingly, the foot-long tail streamers from the breeding season were still intact. Sightings of adult jaegers on the Great Lakes are particularly uncommon. This represents the 38th record of Long-tailed Jaeger for Michigan.

Long-tailed Jaeger – Graham Point 08/23/2023

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