Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring 2009 Final Post


The waterbird count for the spring 2009 season came to an end at 1:49 pm on May 31st; after 47 days and 370.75 hours of observation. A grand total of 16,247 individuals of 69 species were tallied.

The 5 most numerous species this spring: Sandhill Crane (3,273), Common Loon (2,209), Canada Goose (2,198), Red-breasted Merganser (1,620), White-winged Scoter (1,022).

Many species had below average numbers this year, and the grand total is the lowest since 1993. However, as anyone who paid a visit to Whitefish Point this spring can attest to; it was a chilly, windy spring, and these weather conditions likely had negative effects on waterbird migration (or at least our ability to observe it). Lets not dwell on the low numbers however, and take a look at some highlights from the season.


Sandhill Crane:
The Sandhill Crane had its best season since the start of the waterbird count in 1984. It's 3,273 mark beat the previous high total by over 500, and shattered the yearly average of 646. The Sandhills accounted for a rather amazing 20% of the total migration.

Other species with above average years include Northern Pintail (129, yearly average 47), Common Merganser (330, yearly average 284), and Common Tern (98, yearly average 50). A combination of all Scaup catergories (Greater, Lesser, sp) adds up to 1,107; compared to a yearly average of 829.

Snowy Owls: Not a waterbird, I know, but having 3 visit the tip this season was quite a treat.

Shorebirds: Many of the shorebirds showed up a bit late this season, but they had good numbers overall. The Ruddy Turnstone (70), Black-bellied Plover (63) and Semipalmated Plover (68) were all well above average. Perhaps most memorable were the 4 Piping Plovers who spent a good chunk of May on the beach. As of June 1st, a nest has been found. Other shorebirds included Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, and American Avocet (technically not included in the count but a doozy of a bird).

Gulls: Gull species that showed up this spring; Glaucous, Iceland, Great-black Backed, and Thayer's along with the usual Herring and Ring-billed Gulls.

Bird-a-thon: We totaled 131 species for the Bird-a-thon this year, thanks to all those who made pledges!

That about does it for the last post, if anyone has questions about anything I may have left out feel free to email ( I'll be heading home for the summer, but am returning for the fall 2009 count.

Until August 15, Good Birding

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

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