Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009: Big Blue-winged Teal push

It was an absolutely gorgeous day with sunny skies, temp around 65, and a gentle breeze out of the NW. The light NW winds yielded the best waterbird flight so far of the year (for variety).

Waterfowl: The highlight was the number of Blue-winged Teal. 226 were counted which almost triples the high count from last fall. Most of these birds were represented by 3 large flocks-- including one of 90 birds. Other dabblers included 29 Green-winged Teal, 17 American Wigeon, and several Gadwall, Mallard, and American Black Duck. Divers put in a decent showing as well with 427 Red-necked Grebes, 6 Horned Grebes, 20 Common Loons, 17 Scaup, and a couple White-winged Scoters, dark-winged scoters, and Bufflehead.

Gulls/Terns: An impressive 65 Common Terns were totaled with about 40 in one group.

Shorebirds: Very few (because of the presence of a Peregrine) including another Whimbrel which stopped by early to bathe and preen for about 15 minutes before moving on. It is turning out to be quite a good fall for Whimbrels here.

Other: The Peregrine and Merlin put on a hunting clinic picking tired passerines off the lake and the Goshawk gave a nice low flyover. A tired Blackpoll Warbler flew in off the bay and rested on the beach and luckily escaped the detection of either of the falcons. Both Red and White-winged Crossbills were heard and seen flying over.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009: First Jaeger

It was a sunny day with strong winds out of the north. It was an interesting day being slow overall but with a few brief periods of excitement.

Waterfowl: 139 Red-necked Grebes, 13 Common Loons, a White-winged Scoter and a few unidentified dark-winged Scoters. Dabblers put in a weak showing with a handful of Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, and Wigeon.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: The highlight of the day was a jaeger that came in off the lake from the NE during the first hour. It was in the glare of the rising sun during almost all of the observation so there was no way I could ID it to species. It looked like a juvenile intermediate color morph but even the shade of brown was very hard to determine in the sun. There were two more sightings later in the day of possible jaegers (the same bird?) far off in the distance but views were always frustratingly distant and brief.

Shorebirds: A flyover Whimbrel early in the count was the highlight. Other than that just standard peeps, Sanderlings, and Semipalmated Plovers.

Other: The highlight was a young Northern Goshawk that gave amazing views by passing a few yards from the waterbird shack while hunting the beach.

Looks like a nice week of weather ahead. Hopefully the birding will be too!

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29, 2009: Buff-breasted Sandpiper

It was a miserable day with steady moderate rain and 20-25mph East winds.

Waterfowl: Did not want to fly in this weather. The only brave migrants were 4 Red-necked Grebes and a single White-winged Scoter and American Wigeon.

Gulls/Terns: A gorgeous juvenile Bonaparte's Gull stopped by for a little bit in the morning.

Shorebirds: The highlight of the day was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper which showed up during the 4th hour. It associated with peeps and lingered for the rest of the count. 2-3 American Golden Plovers also stopped by as well as 7 Semipalmated Plovers and a handful of other peeps.

Other: A dozen Cliff Swallows came in off the lake during the last hour.

My hopes are high for tomorrow as the rain clears out and the winds shift to the north!

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

August 28, 2009

It was a cloudy day with occasional showers and light winds out of the SE.

Waterfowl: A very slow day. Only 32 Red-necked Grebes, 4 Common Loons, 2 Bufflehead, and 1 Horned Grebe for divers. One flock of dabblers included 7 Shovelers, a Wigeon and an American Black Duck. Perhaps the most interesting sighting was a group of 155 Canada Geese migrating south.

Shorebirds: A slow day for them too. The highlight was 2 American Golden Plovers that flew in during the 7th hour. Both birds still had a lot of alternate plumage. Other shorebirds included a standard mix of Sanderlings, peeps, and a couple Semipalmated Plovers.

Other: Chris reported an excellent morning for warblers in the woods. See his sightings blog for details. I watched a Merlin eat an unlucky Nashville Warbler on the Merlin pole but the highlight was a Peregrine Falcon that landed within 30 feet of the waterbird shack. Unfortunately my camera was out of reach but Chris got stunning photos (see the sightings blog for a photo). I was able to get a more distant photo when the bird flew to the tip--

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009

It was a mostly cloudy day with a stiff breeze out of the SE. Considering the poor wind direction, it was a surprisingly good day for waterfowl numbers and variety.

Waterbirds: Red-necked Grebes had their second-best showing of the year with 692 as well as two Horned Grebes. Scoters also had a good day with 11 White-winged Scoters and the first Surf Scoter of the year (as well as 4 more unidentified dark-winged scoters). Other divers included 9 Common Loons, 2 Bufflehead, and the first 2 Lesser Scaup of the season. Dabblers included 20 Blue-winged Teal, 6 Green-winged Teal, and 6 American Wigeon.

Shorebirds: A slow day with several Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Baird's Sandpipers. A Whimbrel flew in after the count and the Piping Plover appears to be gone.

Other: Not much besides a few warblers and a reappearance of the Goshawk.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009

It was a very pleasant day with temps in the 60's and moderate winds out of the NE.

Waterfowl: Unfortunately, the waterbirds did not respond well to the shift in winds and it was a very slow day. Red-necked Grebes were seen in moderate-sized flocks on and off today totaling 157 birds. A few teal were mixed in and I saw the first Bufflehead of the fall. 15 Common Loons flew by today.

Shorebirds: The worst day yet for them. Very low numbers of Sanderling, Least, and Baird's Sandpipers were the only shorebirds present. However, after the count more shorebirds appeared including more of these species and the Piping Plover.

Other: A Peregrine Falcon was present at the tip of the point early this morning.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009

It was a cloudy and windy day with a thunderstorm that hit around noon. The winds were strong out of the south which put a damper on the waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: Only 54 Red-necked Grebes and 7 Common Loons. One mixed flock of ducks yielded the first Shoveler, American Wigeon, and Greater Scaup of the year. Besides a few teal, all else was very quiet.

Shorebirds: The Piping Plover remains but the Whimbrel streak finally broke at 4 days. The only other species present were normal peep species (including up to 11 Baird's) and a Semipalmated Plover.

Other: Very slow for passerines as well, mainly because the strong winds made hearing chip notes very difficult. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird coming in off the lake was probably the most interesting bird in this category.

Hopefully I'll have more to report tomorrow...

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009

It was a gorgeous day out on the point-- temps were in the upper 70's and winds were light.

Waterfowl: A pretty slow day. 372 Red-necked Grebes passed by, almost all of which were during the first 3 hours of the count. 12 Common Loons were seen and a few dabblers including a few Blue-winged Teal and the first Gadwall of the season.

Gulls/Terns: 2 juvenile Bonapartes Gulls hung out at the tip and 14 Common Terns flew by.

Shorebirds: A Whimbrel was present early (possibly the same bird as yesterday) and the Piping Plover remains. The peep flock was smaller than normal-- including a few Semipalmated Sandpipers and a few Baird's Sandpipers. One of the Baird's posed for pictures-- bee below.

Other: It was a decent day for warblers with high numbers of Palms and Yellow-rumpeds but not much else. 3 Red-winged Blackbirds came in off the lake.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23, 2009: Big Red-necked Grebe push

It was a mostly cloudy day with light to moderate winds out of the north.

Waterfowl: By far the highlight of the day was the number of Red-necked Grebes that were seen flying by. The highest numbers moved through in mid-morning when I counted 568 during the third hour of the count, 410 during the fourth hour, and 377 during the fifth hour. The total for the day reached 2313 birds, beating last fall's high count by over 700 birds! It surprised me that there was this big of a push in August. Other waterfowl included 32 White-winged Scoters, 7 Horned Grebes, 17 Common Loons, the first Common Goldeneye of the fall, and a small assortment of dabblers.

Gulls/Terns: Still quiet on the gull front but 19 Common Terns moved through, all in the sixth hour.

Shorebirds: Another pretty shorebird day. A lone Whimbrel was present making this 3 days in a row for this species and the juvenile Piping Plover was still present as well. A Ruddy Turnstone and Black-bellied Plover were mixed in with the peeps.

Other: Two groups of White-winged Crossbills flew over and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird flew in from the lake.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22, 2009: More Whimbrel

As expected, I was greeted at the point by strong north winds this morning-- sustained around 30mph and gusting to near 40mph. With the winds came the best birding day of the fall so far...

Waterfowl: Red-necked Grebes and Common Loons both had their best day of the fall so far with 369 RN Grebes and 51 Loons. Still waiting for the first Red-throated Loon... White-winged Scoters are also beginning to show in better numbers with 17 seen today. A few MAllard, Blue-winged Teal, and DC Cormorants rounded out the group.

Shorebirds: Any day is a good shorebird day when Whimbrels are around. Two flew in during the second hour and remained for the rest of the day. They spent most of their time working the dune grass and other vegetation fairly far from the water. At one point they walked to within 10 yards of the waterbird shack--see the photos above. I was a little surprised to see Whimbrel two days in a row. Also present were 9 other shorebird species including the Piping Plover, a Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, and all of the normal Peeps.

Other: A flock of White-winged Crossbills was heard overhead during the afternoon, hopefully a sign of things to come after their epic invasion last winter.
Tomorrow looks like a very pleasant day, we'll see how the birds react...
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, August 21, 2009

August 21, 2009: Whimbrel

It was an interesting day at the point with weather changing by the minute. Overall it was mostly cloudy and windy but showers (sometimes heavy) passed by on occasion, almost on the hour. The wind also shifted several times-- first from the SE, then the east, then finally the north.

Waterfowl: Very Slow. Common Loons had their best day of the fall this year with 20 birds, almost all of which were during the first hour. Also seen were a few Red-necked Grebes, Blue-winged Teal, Mallards, and the first two American Black Ducks of the season.

Shorebirds: A very fun day with the shorebirds. By far the highlight was a Whimbrel (see pictures) that flew in about halfway through the count after a rain shower. It enjoyed the pools created by the recent rains and lingered for a couple hours. While I was watching this bird 4 more Whimbrels flew by but never landed. Several other shorebird species were present today including 3 Black-bellied Plovers in almost full breeding plumage and the Piping Plover.

Piping Plover update: I learned from Erin Roche that the Piping Plover is one of the juvenile birds that was born at the point this year. Thanks Erin!
Other: 4 Chimney Swifts and 7 Cliff Swallows came in off the lake and a Vesper Sparrow was hanging out near the waterbird shack.
North winds are forecasted for tomorrow which hopefully will bring some ducks.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009

The day started out with driving rain and 20mph winds out of the SE gusting close to 30mph. Thankfully, after a couple hours, the rain let up and the winds settled down a little bit.

Waterfowl: Not much flying into the headwind. 8 Common Loons and 3 Red-necked Grebes were it besides the resident family of Common Mergansers.

Gulls/Terns: 2 adult Bonapartes Gulls and 8 Common Terns didn't seem to mind the heavy rain and migrated by early in the morning. 2 Caspian Terns loafed on the beach during the afternoon.

Shorebirds: A Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy Turnstone briefly stopped at the point when the rain stopped and were not seen again. After assuming that yesterdays Piping Plover was gone, it flew in with 15 minutes left in the count to prove me wrong.

Other: Not much at all with the poor weather conditions. My friend the local juvenile Goshawk is still seen hunting near the tree line regularly.

Tomorrows forecast looks eerily simular to todays....

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009: Piping Plover

It was another gorgeous day at the point-- probably the most pleasant day yet. Winds were light and variable and temps were in the low 70's.

Waterbirds: Very slow because of the weather. The highlight was my first White-winged Scoter of the fall. I counted 82 Red-necked Grebes (almost all just after sunrise) and about a dozen Common Loons. A handful of Blue-winged Teal and Common Mergansers rounded out the group.

Gulls/Terns: A good day for Common Terns with 33 flying by. One Caspian hung out at the point during the afternoon.

Shorebirds: The lowest numbers yet but included an always welcome Piping Plover. Piping Plovers nested at the point this year for the first time in 23 years but the bands on this bird did not match either of the adults from that pair. Also, that family has not been seen here in more than a week. It is likely that this is a migrant from somewhere else-- I'll provide an update when we learn about the history of this bird.

Other: The raptors provided a lot of entertainment today. A Peregrine Falcon made a brief appearance at the tip during the second hour and one of the local Merlins had a very successful time picking off tired passerines that tried to migrate in off the lake. I watched it catch and eat 3 different birds-- two of which were Song Sparrows. The local Goshawk was also around and another juvenile Goshawk came in off the lake.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009

It was another very pleasant day with temps near 70 and partly sunny skies. I know I'll pay for this later in the fall! The winds started light out of the south but switched to fairly strong out of the west. As the winds switched, the waterbirds started moving east and south over the lake.

Waterfowl: The best day yet for Red-necked Grebes and Common Loons with 255 and 17 respectively. A smattering of Blue-winged Teal (43 total) mixed in with the grebes and the first flock of Green-winged Teal of the fall (19 birds) flew by. Other species included 2 Horned Grebes, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, and 5 migrating DC Cormorants.

Shorebirds: A fairly quiet day for them. 27 Sanderling, 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 2 Bairds Sandpipers, and 2 Semipalmated Plovers worked the bay side of the point all day. A Solitary Sandpiper and the first Killdeer of the fall count were heard overhead.

Gulls/Terns: 9 Common Terns was it besides the normal Ring-billed and Herrings.

Other: It was the best day yet for passerines as several were heard coming in off the lake in the early morning. A small flock near the Merlin pole included 15 Palm Warblers, 5 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

The Waterbird Shack

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009

It was a very pleasant day with mostly sunny skies and temps in the lower 70's. The forecast was correct-- winds shifted to NW overnight.

Waterfowl: Red-necked Grebes were moving fairly steadily in the morning with 203 birds recorded. 2 Horned Grebes were seen as well. Teal also put in a good showing with 66 Blue-winged and 36 teal sp. Other species included 8 Common Loons, 2 Mallards and 1 Red-breasted Merganser.

Shorebirds: Shorebird numbers continue to increase. There was a nice group of Sanderling (up to 39 birds) working the point all day as well as 7 Semipalmated Plover, 2 Ruddy Turnstones, 10 Bairds, 3 Semipalmated, and 2 Least Sandpipers. A Solitary Sandpiper was also heard migrating over.

Other: An American Kestrel came in off the lake and the local Merlins, Goshawks, and Sharp-shinneds hunted the point on and off throughout the day.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16, 2009

It was another warm mostly sunny day with some haze. Winds were from the SE at 10-15mph.

Waterfowl: Very slow. Only 3 Red-necked Grebes, 3 Common Loons, and 9 Double-crested Cormorants.

Shorebirds: The day started with only 1 Black-bellied Plover on the beach but ended with 10 Sanderling, 7 Semipalmated, 4 Bairds, and 4 Least Sandpipers, 5 Semipalmated Plovers, and a single Ruddy Turnstone.

Other: 2 Northern Harriers (both juvs) came in off the lake and the immature Goshawk kept me company during the slow afternoon.

There is supposed to be a cold front tonight with winds shifting behind it so hopefully there will be some kind of waterfowl movement tomorrow.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 15, 2009

The 2009 count season opened up with very warm conditions (temps in the lower 80's) and sunny skies. Winds were light out of the SE. By the afternoon, haze over the lake made scoping at any distance very difficult.

Waterfowl: The highlight was 65 Red-necked Grebes-- all of which were recorded in the first 3 hours. 2 Common Loons were the only other waterfowl species.

Gulls/Terns: 10 Common Terns flying NE, 1 Caspian Tern, 2 Bonaparte's Gulls, and standard RB and Herring Gulls.

Shorebirds: A decent number including 3 Bairds, 10 Semipalmated, 3 Least Sandpipers, 4 Semipalmated Plovers, and 3 Sanderling.

Other birds: 2 young Northern Goshawks were the highlight. One of them spent a good amount of time circling low over the waterbird shack and beach. 2 Merlin (see photo) hung out at the tip most of the day including one that ate a Red-breasted Nuthatch for breakfast.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter