Today was an exciting day at the count. I once again filled in for Aspen so she could have a day off. That’s not really the exciting part (unless, of course, you happen to be Aspen).
The pace was fast and furious when I first arrived. The west winds had birds swirling around all over. Most were various species of aythya, mostly Redheads with some Greater Scaup thrown in. The first exciting bird of the day was a Canvasback that was in with a flock of Redheads. This was exciting because it is the first time one has been recorded during any of the counts going back to when we began them. In fact, it may be the first time one has been recorded at this site ever. I didn’t get photos of this bird though, but here is one of a Greater Scaup that flew by close to shore.
Loons were also on the move this morning. Good numbers of both Common and Red-throated were present, although their activity diminished very quickly during the late part of the second hour.
This is the first day this fall that I counted more Horned Grebes and Red-necked although both were present. Here is a photo of one of the former that was hanging out just off shore.
There were also a few dabblers in the air today. Here is a distant American Black Duck that was flying west early in the morning.
And here is a mixed flock with three Mallards and an American Wigeon.
And of course, there were still a few Common Mergansers flying back and forth just off shore throughout the day.
As the day warmed up, Bald Eagles began to make regular forays into the lake, often returning with food. Here are a couple of photos of one that flew directly overhead.
There were quite a few Northern Harriers flying south today also.
However, the most exciting bird of the day was a shorebird. We don’t get many shorebirds at the McGulpin Point count, so when they do show up they are always a treat. In this case, the one that showed up was extra special since it is an uncommon bird in Michigan in general. This may be not just a new bird for the count and the McGulpin Point site, but also for the entire county. Although the photo is pretty awful, here is the American Avocet.
Speaking of horrible photos, here is a terrible photo of Bonaparte’s Gulls flying by Saint Helena Island. If you’re as nerdy as me, you might get a chuckle out of it.
And I’ll leave you with one last photo before the final bird list for the day. The moon was kind enough to keep me company this morning so I took a photo of it. Besides, the moon is just cool.
And here is the list for the day:
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 8
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) 3
American Wigeon (Mareca americana) 1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 3
American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) 1
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) 1
Redhead (Aythya americana) 569
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) 44
Aythya sp. (Aythya sp.) 1639
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) 1
White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca) 52
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) 50
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) 108
duck sp. (Anatinae sp.) 44
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) 5
Common Loon (Gavia immer) 36
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) 18
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) 4
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 58
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) 12
Accipiter sp. (Accipiter sp.) 1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 6
hawk sp. (Accipitridae sp. (hawk sp.)) 3
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) 14
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) 1
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) 8
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 8
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 5
Larus sp. (Larus sp.) 12
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 20
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) 8