Saturday, May 9, 2009

Loons march on

This is Ken again, filling in for Andy. Although the weather was tough today, the loons continued to migrate. 

Weather: It started cloudy, cleared up, then became cloudy again. The wind was strong throughout the day, with gusts almost up to 30 mph. Temperatures barely cleared 40 F, and with the wind, it felt much colder. 

Waterbird Count: 2 Redhead, 19 Greater Scaup, 2 Lesser Scaup, 3 Surf Scoters, 10 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Common Goldeneye, 34 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Red-throated Loons, 210 Common Loons, 13 Red-necked Grebes, 9 Double-crested Cormorants, and 7 Sandhill Cranes. 

Shorebirds: There are still 2 male Piping Plovers on the beach. One of them was battling the wind to give a fluttering display flight throughout the morning. 

Other Sightings: Raptor migration seems to have slowed, which is not surprising considering the winds. There are still plenty of Rough-legged Hawks about, including at least one dark bird. A Merlin spent the morning around the point, seemingly hoping to catch migrating passerines. It chased a small bird that I took for a Pine Siskin. Although I thought the small bird a goner, it somehow managed to use the gusting winds to its advantage and make it to the shelter of the pines. In calm weather, I don't think it would have had a chance. Throughout the first several hours, I occasionally heard a Lapland Longspur calling, but could not locate it. Towards the end of the count, a flock of Horned Larks and longspurs landed in front of me, which was quite satisfying. One of the 'spurs was a male in full breeding plumage, a beautiful sight that is rarely enjoyed in the lower 48. 

The weather forecast for tomorrow is slightly warmer than that endured today, though the winds are no more promising. My guess is that at least 100 loons will still muscle their way through, as they seem to be migrating strongly right now irrespective of the weather. 

-Ken Behrens

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