Fall Waterbird Count: Week 11

Late fall continues to deliver significant movements of waterfowl, particularly Long-tailed Ducks and Redhead. Even as the the season winds down, counts are still exceptionally productive in terms of numbers and diversity. During a four day span from November 4th to the 7th, over 11,000 Long-tailed Ducks were tallied streaming West through the Straits.

Massive staging rafts of mixed species aythya ducks have formed in the open water. These groups form extensive patches across the Straits, so large that they can be easily viewed while driving across the Mackinac Bridge. Reduced boat traffic towards the end of fall helps to offer less disturbance as these birds gather in the area. 

An exciting moment for the count occurred on November 7th when two Black-legged Kittiwakes shot by McGulpin Point at close range! During migration, adults typically stay far out to sea, but young birds often venture over land and end up in the Great Lakes. Thriving in colder climates, Kittiwakes nest on rocky cliffs and have a swift and graceful flightstyle. The bold black “M” markings and dark collar on immature Kittiwakes are diagnostic (photo provided). 

Other highlights for this week include two more small groups of migratory Tundra Swans and the first sightings of Wood Ducks for this fall!

Black-legged Kittiwake – McGulpin Point 11/07/22

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