Sep 14-15

Waterbirds are trickling in!

For those of you who aren’t totally sure where my survey sites are located, here is a digital elevation model of the Mackinac Straits area. You can see the bridge, depths in the straits, UP, LP, and the highlighted points are my survey locations. I have recently fallen in love with grey-scale images because they remove the clutter that normal aerial images have, so here you are! The second photo is for those not familiar with the region, as this is a zoomed out look at Michigan, the midwest, and where my surveys are generally located. This image is a layered grayscale and hypsometric tint. I actually generally prefer to keep all of these grey as well, but I like the little bit of coloration for context. Enjoy!

An aerial image showing the Mackinac Straits area and my two survey locations. At the bottom of the image is Mcgulpin Point and at the top is Graham Point (Sorry I forgot a North arrow…).
A zoomed out look to get a better idea for where the Mackinac region is located.
A hillshade image showing topographical variation in the region.

Red-necked grebes have begun to taper off in their density, but I still regularly see a handful each day. Horned grebes, however, have started to fly past a bit more often, and seem to drift closer to shore than their longer-bodied cousins. Yesterday yielded the first greater scaup and redheads of the year. The greater scaup was loafing on the water during the morning and subsequently flew south in the afternoon. The group of 9 redheads flew by early in the morning with little regard for stopping in the straits. Common goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, red-breasted mergansers, common mergansers, and blue-winged teal were all continuously seen on the water during the day. Albeit, very distantly, and directly into the unobstructed glare of the sun. Winds are starting to become favorable, and checking the radar shows that large movements of birds are starting to move into the area.

Also of note, I have started to see pretty high numbers of american kestrels, merlins, sharp-shinned hawks, turkey vultures, and bald eagles. All of these are flying almost directly overhead throughout the day, and serve as a nice break from double-crested cormorants. It is common for me to be unsure about whether a double-crested cormorant is migrating or moving to a local fishing spot, but today there were steady streams riding the winds to the south. This laid all those anxieties to rest, and hopefully is starting to open up the straits to a little more variety. Tomorrow I will post the answer and second photo of the armchair challenge!

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