Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30, 2009

It was the coldest day of the fall so far with temps topping out in the upper 40's. Cloudy skies gradually turned mostly sunny and brisk north winds gradually decreased throughout the day. I was hoping that the continued north winds would mean a good flight but unfortunately, I was wrong.

Waterfowl: A very slow day. Red-necked Grebes were the most common species with 61 seen. Low numbers of loons (10 Common and 8 Red-throated) and Red-breasted Mergansers (18) were seen as well as a few Scaup, Redhead, and Long-tailed Ducks to round out the divers. Dabblers had an even worse showing with 5 Mallard, 2 Green-winged Teal, 2 American Wigeon, and a Pintail.

Shorebirds: Only 2 Sanderlings and a Golden Plover. A couple more quiet days and this will no longer have it's own paragraph every day.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: Just the normal Ring-billeds and Herrings today.

Other: Nothing uncommon. The highlight was watching a Merlin bullet from the MErlin pole to the beach and grab an unwary and unlucky American Pipit.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29, 2009- Geese, GBB Gull, Jaeger

As soon as I stepped out of my car this morning I could hear the lake roaring. As advertised, the gales finally hit last night and continued through the day. Winds were sustained out of the north around 25mph and probably gusted to around 50mph at times.

Waterfowl: Things started slow but really picked up in the afternoon. The highlight was an excellent goose flight during the last three hours of the count. 2482 Canada Geese and 12 Cackling Geese were counted, all in this three hour period. Loons also had a good flight during this time with 105 Commons and a few Red-throateds seen. It was a pretty slow day for other ducks but a few highlights were around 70 Scaup, 22 Pintail, 9 Black Ducks, and 3 Long-tailed Ducks.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: Glen Belyea and Tex Wells found an adult Great Black-backed Gull on the breakwall in the harbor which could be seen through a scope from the point. Chris and I watched a juvenile jaeger work the wave troughs from north to south but it never cam close enough to ID.

Shorebirds: The only shorebird was one American Golden Plover.

Other: a Peregrine Falcon (possibly 2) made a couple passes over the point during the afternoon.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28, 2009

Well, Lake Superior had a curveball up her sleeve today. Either the weathermen botched the forecast or the gale-force winds and heavy rain are late. It was a very calm morning with the wind gradually picking up to a breeze out of the NW by the afternoon and the only sign of rain throughout the day was a few sprinkles.

Waterfowl: A pretty slow day but another decent Wigeon day with 73 seen. Other dabblers were 28 Mallard, 2 Black Ducks, and a few Shoveler, Pintail, and Green-winged Teal. Aythya showed in low numbers today and grebes and loons also showed in low to moderate numbers. The highlight was a hen Hooded Herganser, a rather uncommon bird here.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: Chris and I saw a probable distant jaeger in the afternoon but it was way too far to even think about ID'ing.

Shorebirds: 15 Sanderling, a couple Golden Plovers, and a late flyover Solitary Sandpiper.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 27, 2009- Jaeger & Brewer's Blackbird

Change is in the air with overcast skies and a stronger wind out of the south today. Birds were moving well before a major front and weather system hits tonight.

Waterfowl: A very good day all around which started slow but picked up towards mid-morning. Dabblers had a great day with 117 Mallard and 110 Wigeon. Others were 10 Pintail, 5 Gadwall, a drake Wood Duck, and a few of each species of teal. Aythya had a good day as well with 107 Greater Scaup, 27 Lesser Scaup, and 85 Redhead. Some other highlights were 10 Long-tailed Duck, 57 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Red-throated Loons and 33 Commons, and 11 Horned Grebe and 44 Red-necked.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: A juvenile jaeger came in off the bay during the second hour. It milled around the tip for around 10 minutes and assaulted a Ring-billed Gull but I never was able to ID the bird because it was always in harsh sunlight and the only field mark I could see was a white wingflash on an otherwise dark jaeger. Also, 13 distant terns flew by that were likely Commons.

Shorebirds: Brutal. 2 Golden Plovers and 3 Sanderlings.

Other: A few highlights at the shack were a flyover Osprey, a few Sharp-shinned Hawks migrating in off the lake, and a kingfisher. The highlight though was a female Brewer's Blackbird near the parking lot that I found when I returned to the car after the count. Brewer's are a fairly uncommon bird at the point and this may be a first September record for the species.

Tomorrow will be my first experience of true Lake Superior fall weather-- the forecast calls for NW winds up to 50mph and a driving rain.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

September 26, 2009

It was another very nice day with temps close to 70 and a breeze out of the SE.

Waterfowl: A pretty slow day overall but a few species were moving in decent numbers. It was another decent day for White-winged Scoters with 57 and a decent day for Greater Scaup with 73. Red-breasted and Common Mergansers were seen in OK numbers and loons put in a modest showing with 39 Commons and 6 Red-throateds. Grebes seen today were 41 Red-neckeds and 4 Horneds.

Shorebirds: Very slow. 4 Golden Plovers and 14 Sanderling.

Other: Nothing of note besides a Peregrine Falcon that made a few close passes in the afternoon.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 25, 2009- Pacific Loon

Today marked a fairly substantial change in the weather-- temps were cooler (around 60), skies were cloudy, and the wind was strong (around 25mph) out of the SE. The winds meant that most of the birds flying were rather close.

Waterfowl: The highlight of the day was an alternate plumaged PACIFIC LOON that flew by during the first hour of the count. It was an ok day for other loons as well with 51 Commons and 16 Red-throateds. Other highlights were the first Long-tailed Ducks of fall (10) and the best numbers of White-winged Scoters (68) and Red-breasted Mergansers (78) yet. It was a slow grebe day with 16 Red-neckeds and 1 Horned and a pretty slow dabbler day with a dozen Pintail and a couple Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon and Green-winged Teal.

Shorebirds: Pretty slow-- 2 Black-bellied Plovers, a Golden Plover, and 8 Sanderlings.

Other: Not much as birds near the tree line were hard to detect from the shack because of the wind. Numbers of Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs are noticeably building.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24, 2009

It was a gorgeous day with mostly sunny skies and temps in the mid 70's. Unfortunately the calm weather and SE winds made for a poor waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: Aythya continue to move with 25 Greater Scaup, 6 Lesser Scaup, 10 Redhead, and about 60 unidentified aythya. Loons were moving a little but not nearly as much as yesterday-- 16 Red-throateds and 35 Commons. Red-necked Grebes made a poor showing with 35 birds. Wigeon were the most common dabbler with 27 followed by 6 Mallard and a few teal.

Shorebirds: A decent day with the highlights being a dozen American Golden Plovers, about 10 Sanderling, and a Pectoral and a Baird's Sandpiper.

Other: The highlight was the number of American Pipits coming in off the lake. Groups of 15-25 came in all morning, some of which landed on the beach and some of which continued south. I counted 131 total. A decent number of Horned Larks (see photo below) and a few Lapland Longspurs were present.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23, 2009: Loon movement

Winds were out of the north and NW today and early fog and clouds soon vanished, making way for another gorgeous day.

Waterfowl: The best day of the past couple weeks, possibly the best day of the fall. Variety was good and numbers of a few species were very good. Most notable were 86 Red-throated Loons (last fall's high count was 52) and 219 Common Loons. Red-necked Grebes had their best day of the month with 634 counted. It was the best day of the fall so far for Scaup (around 200) and Redhead (45) as well. Scoters also made a decent showing with 32 White-wingeds and a Surf. 5 species of dabblers flew by as well including the second Wood Duck of the fall.

Shorebirds: A Pectoral Sandpiper was present for the first couple hours and the first Baird's Sandpiper in the last couple weeks was present with a few Sanderlings.

Other: It was interesting to see a few Northern Flickers fly in off the lake, lucky for them there were no Peregrines around.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009- LONG-TAILED JAEGER

The day started with dense fog which slowly dissipated throughout the morning. Winds were weak out of the SE and the temp topped out in the low 70's.

Waterfowl: A pretty slow day overall but the best day of the fall so far for Red-throated Loons. 43 were counted including 27 during the 6th hour of the count. Modest numbers of Common Loons, Horned and Red-necked Grebes and Canada Geese were seen with a few dabblers including 28 Wigeon, a Black Duck, and a few teal of both species.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: By far the highlight of the day was a intermediate juvenile LONG-TAILED JAEGER. The bird actually showed up just after the count had ended (around 3:30PM Eastern time)-- good thing we stuck around for a little bit. We were alerted to its presence when we heard a gull give an alarm call and once we spotted the bird we watched it give a nice close flyby a little more than halfway between the waterbird shack and the tip of the point. Chris took some excellent photos which reveal the identity of this bird. They can be seen on the sightings blog.

Shorebirds: Highlight was a Pectoral Sandpiper that flew in towards the end of the count. An American Golden Plover also flew over earlier.

Other: A dark morph Red-tailed Hawk put on a brief show with a half-dozen other Red-tails. Very neat looking bird!!

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009- Forster's Tern

It was a cloudy day with light rain during the first few hours of the count and off and on drizzle through the remainder of the day. Winds were stiff out of the E/SE and temps were near 60.

Waterfowl: A very slow day, perhaps because of the rain and sometimes poor visibility. The most common species were Canada Goose with 49 (represented by one flock) and Red-necked Grebe with 41. It was a poor day for loons as well with 16 Commons and 2 Red-throateds. A Pintail was seen for the first time in a couple weeks and is hopefully the beginning of the main movement for this species.

Gulls/Terns: The highlight was a 1st winter Forster's Tern. Although not rare, this is an uncommon bird at Whitefish Point. 6 Common Terns were seen as well. The balance of gulls is beginning to shift from Ring-billed to Herring.

Shorebirds: The day started with no shorebirds on the beach but 6 Sanderling, a Least Sandpiper, and an American Golden Plover flew in during the afternoon.

Other: A hummingbird flew in off the lake late in the count and Lapland Longspurs continue to increase in number with the Horned Lark flock.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009

It was another gorgeous day but according to the weather forecast, this ridiculous string of weather may end at 3 weeks tomorrow.

Waterfowl: A relatively quiet day. The highlights were 14 Red-throated Loons, the first Wood Duck of fall, and the first Redheads (14) of the fall. Others included 36 Mallards, 36 Green-winged Teal, and a mixed bag of divers consisting of mainly Greater Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser.

Shorebirds: 8 American Golden Plovers and 6 Sanderlings were it.

Other: The highlight was a female Black-backed Woodpecker that spent a few minutes on the merlin pole.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 19, 2009- Moose

It was another sunny day and winds were light to moderate out of the SE. It was a very slow day for waterbirds overall.

Waterfowl: Very slow-- the species with the best numbers was Canada Goose with 68. Red-necked Grebes put in a poor showing with 27 and Common Loons had roughly the same number. Others included 3 Red-throated Loons, 5 Horned Grebes, 14 White-winged Scoters, 13 Red-breasted Mergansers, and 14 Scaup-- 12 of which were identified as Greater.

Shorebirds: Unfortunately it seems that the shorebird season is really winding down. A dozen sanderlings and an American Golden Plover were all this group could muster today.

Other: By far the highlight of the day was not even a bird. During the 3rd hour of the count a bull Moose walked through the treeline to near the Merlin pole and then back towards the ponds in the woods. Everyone at the waterbird shack had great looks at it as it walked along the treeline. See the sightings blog for some great pictures that Chris took. Moose are present in this area but are rarely seen-- this is only the third time one has been seen from the waterbird shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009-- 2 Parasitic Jaegers

The weather is finally beginning to change and it felt a lot more like fall today. Winds were brisk out of the north and the temp only reached the upper 50's. However, skies were still sunny like the past few weeks.

Waterfowl: Not nearly as much variety as yesterday but 219 Common Loons represented the best day for them so far this fall. 4 Red-throated Loons were seen as well as 11 Red-breasted Mergnsers and 78 Red-necked Grebes. A few scaup were seen but not nearly as many as yesterday. The only dabblers were 11 Wigeon, 2 Green-winged Teal, and an American Black Duck that Chris originally found on the nethouse pond.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: The highlight of the day were the jaegers. The first of the day was briefly seen by a couple observers around 10AM at fairly close range and ID'd as an adult light morph Parasitic. It soon continued into the harsh glare from the morning sun and was lost. About an hour later another adult light Parasitic came by fairly close-- this time it was seen by all observers and watched for a couple minutes before it continued towards the Soo. Another distant jaeger was seen at the end of the count but it was way too far for an ID.

Shorebirds: Another slow day-- only 9 Sanderling and an American Golden and Semipalmated Plover.

Other: It was a good day for raptors with Northern Goshawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Broad-winged Hawk, and a few Bald Eagles all giving low flyovers at the shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009

It was my day off so Chris conducted the waterbird count. After birding some local roads in the morning (details below) I spent the afternoon at the waterbird shack as well.

It was by far the best day in the past week for numbers and variety of waterfowl. Highlights included a very impressive 248 American Wigeon (almost double last fall's high count), 120 Green-winged and 66 Blue-winged Teal, 13 Lesser, 11 Greater and 61 Scaup species, and 2 Ring-necked Ducks among small numbers of a few other species. Less Loons were seen today (38) but 5 of them were Red-throateds. It was another slow day for shorebirds.

As I mentioned above, I spent the morning birding some nearby roads with a friend who was in town. By far the highlight of our morning was finding 11 Spruce Grouse, a group of 5 and a group of 6. One of the males actually acted aggressive towards us and strutted towards us in his display posture-- a very neat experience to say the least. Some photos of the hen and an immature are below. The woods were full of mixed flocks but the flocks were 98% Yellow-Rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, and Kinglets.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16, 2009

It was another gorgeous day for weather just like every day for the past two weeks. Early clouds quickly vanished and winds were light out of the south and east.

Waterfowl: Another slow day. The highlight was 43 White-winged Scoters, the most yet this fall. It was another decent day for Common Loons with 58 and other divers included 44 Red-necked Grebes and 22 Red-breasted Mergansers. The only dabblers of the day were 7 Green-winged Teal.

Gulls/Terns: 2 Caspian Terns (an adult and a juvenile) that migrated over were a bit of a surprise since they haven't been seen since August.

Shorebirds: Another poor day with the only birds present being 10 Sanderling, 6 American Golden Plovers, and a flyover Black-bellied Plover.

Other: Nothing noteworthy. Numbers of Pipits, Horned Larks, and Lapland Longspurs continue to rise.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15, 2009

The weather was the same as it has been for the past 2+ weeks-- gorgeous. The winds gradually picked up throughout the day out of the North and then the East.

Waterfowl: Another good day for Common Loons (142) but not much else. Others included 2 Red-throated Loons, only 49 Red-necked Grebes, a Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Green-winged Teal, and a lone American Wigeon. It was a decent day for Canada Geese with exactly 400 seen.

Shorebirds: A Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden Plover were present during the morning but took off after a couple hours. 12 Sanderlings and a flyover Solitary Sandpiper were the only other shorebirds.

Other: Pretty quiet except for many more American Pipits and Horned Larks on the beach.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14, 2009- Cackling Goose & Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Waterfowl: The best day of the past week. The highlight was a Cackling Goose that flew by with 9 Canadas. About a hundred Canadas were seen total. By far the best day of the year so far for Common Loon with 163 seen. Red-necked Grebe rebounded from a couple poor days with 331 seen. Other divers included 6 Lesser Scaup, 4 White-winged Scoter, a Surf Scoter, and a couple Red-breasted Mergansers. Dabblers didn't have as good of a day-- highlights were 19 Green-winged and 11 Blue-winged Teal and an American Black Duck.

Shorebirds: A pretty slow day but the presence of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper always makes it a good shorebird day. Pictures are below. Other shorebirds were 4 Golden Plovers, a Semipalmated Plover and 28 Sanderlings.

Other: There were a lot of passerines coming in off the lake in the fog this morning but it was a brutal day for these birds due to a Merlin and a hoard of hungry Herring Gulls. I watched the Merlin kill at least 7 or 8 birds including a Red-eyed Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Brown Creeper, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. The Merlin actually killed several birds without eating them, exhibiting caching which I have never seen Merlins or any other species of falcons do. Or, perhaps, the Merlin simply was acting on its predatory instincts and chased any bird it saw flying over, forgetting about the bird it already caught. If anybody else has seen Merlins do this please share a comment. Some pictures of some of it's uneaten victims are below.

Brown Creeper

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13, 2009

It was another gorgeous day but winds were out of the northwest which was a nice change from the past week of southerly winds. Unfortunately, the switch in wind direction did not result in a good waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: The only species moving in any numbers was Canada Goose with 507 seen. Loons put in a decent showing with 55 migrating by. Red-necked Grebes had a poor showing with 21 and it was a dreadful day for dabblers-- only 1 Wigeon and 1 Mallard. 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Horned Grebes rounded out the waterfowl.

Shorebirds: Very Slow. Only 11 Sanderling, 2 Golden Plovers, a Semipalmated Plover, and a Least Sandpiper.

Other: Numbers of Pipits and Horned Larks continue to increase and the first Lapland Longspurs of fall arrived.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12, 2009

It was another gorgeous day with temps around 75 and a breeze out of the SE.

Waterfowl: Overall it was pretty slow but it was the best day of the fall so far for Common Loons with 91 seen. They even outnumbered Red-necked Grebes (85). Red-breasted Mergansers are also moving now with 28 seen. A few scoters flew by-- 9 White-wingeds and a Surf. Dabblers included 10 Wigeon, 6 Green-winged and 2 Blue-winged Tealand a few Shoveler, Mallard, and Gadwall.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: A Jaeger was seen very far away during the 4th hour and 17 Common Terns were seen.

Shorebirds: Another very quiet shorebird day with 15 Sanderlings and solo Golden, Black-bellied, and Semipalmated Plovers.

Other: The group of Blue Jays at the end of the point has grown to over 80 birds. It was fun to watch a Merlin dive at them as if it wanted them to stay out of its hunting territory. Other highlights included a nice flyover Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk, 5 Red Crossbills, and the first Horned Lark of the season.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

The gorgeous weather continues as well as winds out of the Southeast and slow waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: Common Loons had their best day of the year with 57 detected. Other divers included 116 Red-necked Grebes, 9 Horned Grebes, 5 Common Mergansers, and a single Common Goldeneye and White-winged Scoter. It was a poor dabbler day but the first 2 Northern Pintail of the season were seen. Others included 10 Wigeon, 10 Blue-winged and 11 Green-winged Teal, and 3 Mallards.

Shorebirds: A very slow day for shorebirds. Only 8 Sanderling, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, and a flyover Solitary Sandpiper.

Other: 2 Sandhill Cranes migrated over early and 2 Northern Harriers came in off the Lake during the morning. A few swallows came in off the lake throughout the day-- all were Barn or Cliff Swallows.

It looks like the calm, warm weather will last until at least Wednesday.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

September 10, 2009

Chris covered for me on my day off.

Movement was moderate with a good dabbler flight but a poor diver flight. Dabblers included 119 Green-winged and 32 Blue-winged Teal, 25 Wigeon, 13 Mallard, and 4 Gadwall. Only 60 Red-necked Grebes were counted along with 26 Common Loons, 2 Horned Grebes, and the first migrant Common and Red-breasted Mergansers of the year.

Shorebirds were also relatively slow with 15 Sanderling, 2 Baird's Sandpiper, and 1 Black-bellied and 1 Semipalmated Plover.

A Scarlet Tanager was seen coming in off the lake in the morning.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 9, 2009

The string of gorgeous weather continues-- it was sunny today with a high of around 75. Unfortunately, this stagnant weather pattern is starting to result in little activity on the waterbird front.

Waterfowl: Overall it was extremely slow. The highlight was 3 Hooded Mergansers flying with 3 Red-necked Grebes. Hooded Mergansers are rather uncommon here, especially this early in fall. The only species moving in any numbers today was Canada Goose with 351 seen. The only other birds were 20 Red-necked Grebes, 16 Common Loons and single Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, and DC Cormorant.

Shorebirds: It was an OK day but numbers decreased throughout the day. The highlight was the first Lesser Yellowlegs of the fall that flew in during the second hour. Other birds included about 25 Sanderlings (although this number decreased throughout the day), 5 Baird's Sandpipers, and single Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers and a Least Sandpiper.

Other: Very quiet. Chris had a good passerine day and a few times some of the flocks made it up to the treeline near the shack. White-winged Crossbills and a Pine Siskin were heard from the shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 8, 2009

It was another gorgeous day but morning dense fog and afternoon severe haze almost made for a complete bust. The lake could not even be seen for more than half of the day.

Waterfowl: Canada Geese were moving somewhat well with 139 birds represented by 3 flocks. 18 Common Loons flew by and another 20 or so were sitting off the tip in a tight group. Only 5 Red-necked Grebes and 3 Blue-winged Teal were seen. A group of 7 Horned Grebes was seen in one of the rare moments when the lake was visible in the morning. The day was saved from being a complete bust when a group of 5 Red-throated Loons led by a drake Surf Scoter flew by late.

Shorebirds: Around 50 Sanderling and a couple Black-bellied and Golden Plovers started the day on the tip but left fairly quickly. The only other birds passing through were 3 Baird's and 1 Least Sandpiper.

Other: Not much at all. The highlight was a low flyover from the Goshawk.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7, 2009- 3 Jaegers

The string of gorgeous days just keeps on going. Winds were light out of the SE all day until they shifted to North during the final hour of the count. It was a very interesting day with a lot of activity in the morning, little during midday, and a lot of activity at the end of the count.

Waterfowl: A very good day overall. The highlight was the arrival of Red-throated Loons with 6 seen. 27 Common Loons were also counted. Grebes had a very good day with 591 Red-neckeds and 57 Horneds. The number of Horneds was very surprising, more than doubling last year's high count for the species. Other ducks included 74 Blue-winged and 61 Green-winged Teal, 29 Wigeon, and a few Shovelers, Mallards, and White-winged Scoters.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: The highlight of the day was jaegers. During the second hour a dark juvenile jaeger came flying up the beach in fairly close range but bad lighting. I saw white flashes on the upper and underwing and an otherwise uniform dark brown clunky body. My impression was that this was a dark juvenile Parasitic. Another jaeger showed up at the beginning of the 8th hour but was way too far out to ID. Finally, with about a half hour left in the count, a gorgeous adult light morph Parasitic Jaeger flew up the beach and harassed a few gulls before moving on towards the Soo. The Franklin's Gull is still around and 14 Common Terns were counted.

Shorebirds: A very good day after a few poor days. Sanderlings had their best day of the year with about 60 present with a couple Baird's Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. A few juvenile Golden and Black-bellied Plovers stopped in throughout the day as well. Pictures of a Black-bellied Plover and American Golden Plover are below.

Other: The highlight was a female Black-backed Woodpecker that landed on one of the sharpie sticks during the afternoon. American Pipits were around the shack all day (see photo below) and the Merlin had a fun day hunting the numerous passerines coming in off the lake.
This Evening: I went back out to the point since the end of the count was so active. Waterfowl was very slow but a Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew in. Here are some photos of that bird:

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 6, 2009- Franklin's Gull

It was another gorgeous day today and thankfully the fog was not very bad in the morning. There was thick haze but it didn't limit the visibility nearly as bad as the fog did yesterday.

Waterfowl: It seemed like a slow day but when all of a sudden done it was a very good day for dabblers, especially teal. 108 Green-wingeds were counted which beats last years high count and 103 Blue-wingeds was also very respectable. Other dabblers were 13 Shovelers, 9 Wigeon, 7 Mallards, and a Gadwall. Other than Common Loons (31 seen today), divers were disappointing with only 30 Red-necked Grebes. A group of 6 Horned Grebes was the biggest group of that species I have seen yet and accounted for all of the day's Horned Grebes.

Gulls/Terns: The highlight of the day was a Franklin's Gull that flew in during the second hour. It milled around with the Ring-billeds for a while before working its way down towards the harbor. It appeared to be a very worn adult, one poor picture is below. Common Terns put in a very good showing today with 92 including a flock of 64 and a flock of 26.

Shorebirds: Overall, very quiet. 3 American Golden and 1 Black-bellied Plover saved the day from being a complete shorebird bust. I believe it was the first peepless day of the fall.

Other: A Bobolink was heard flying over and a female/young male Red Crossbill gave a low flyover.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 5, 2009- Fogged in

It was another nice day but dense fog put a huge damper on the count. I could not see the lake until about halfway through the count and most of the morning I couldn't even see halfway to the tip of the point.

Waterfowl: Obviously, none were detected through the fog and the afternoon wasn't much better--just 5 Red-necked Grebes, a White-winged Scoter, and 4 Common Loons. A flock of 265 Canada Geese came in as the fog lifted-- they had been sitting way out on the lake in the fog the whole morning.

Shorebirds: 2 Black-bellied Plovers and a Solitary Sandpiper flew in as the fog lifted but nothing else was seen besides Sanderlings and one Baird's Sandpiper.

Other: The highlight was a juvenile Cooper's Hawk which are the least common accipiter here. Numbers of American Pipits are increasing (8 now) and a few warblers made their way out to the trees near the Sharpie sticks.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, September 4, 2009

September 4, 2009

The string of gorgeous days continues and is not going to end soon. The high was near 75 and winds were light and variable. However, the haze over the lake in the afternoon made panning the horizon for waterbirds difficult.

Waterfowl: A pretty slow day except for Common Loons which had their second-best day of the year with 39 birds. Others included 120 Red-necked Grebes, 17 White-winged Scoters, and a few Lesser Scaup, Mallard and Blue & Green-winged Teal.

Shorebirds: Low numbers but a flyover Whimbrel and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that spent part of the afternoon on the point made things fun. Chris and Nova got some excellent photos of the Buff-breasted that I'm sure will be posted to the sightings blog.

Other: I had my first two American Pipits flyover and a local pair of Evening Grosbeaks gave a nice low flyover. A cooperative Merlin perched on one of the exposed perches near the waterbird shack and I was able to capture this series of digitals of the bird:

A portrait:
Getting ready to take off:

Checking the sky for unwary and unlucky passerines:

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 3, 2009

Today was my day off so Chris conducted the waterbird count.

He had low numbers but a decent variety including 145 Red-necked Grebes, 23 Common Loons, a Horned Grebe, several Scaup, 31 American Wigeon (the best total yet this year), 10 Mallard, and 41 Blue-winged and 17 Green-winged Teal. Shorebirds were pretty quiet but a Black-bellied Plover flew in at the end of the count. He also had quite a few passerines including the first American Pipit of the year.

I spent part of my day off at the Sleeper Lake burn just north of Newberry and had a great look at a male Black-backed Woodpecker. I watched the bird feed from about 15 yards away for almost a half hour...a great look at one of my favorite birds. Good numbers of warblers were around in mixed flocks as well.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2, 2009

Another picture-perfect day for weather. The temp topped out in the lower 70's and a cloud was not seen the whole day. Winds were light from the SW.

Waterfowl: Very slow. The only bird that was moving in any numbers was Red-necked Grebe with 233 birds counted. After two very good days for Blue-winged Teal, only 6 were seen today. About an average day for Common Loons with 14.

Shorebirds: Overall very slow but a Black-bellied Plover that stopped by during the second hour and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that flew in just before the end of the count made up for the lack of numbers. Chris and I went back out to the point this evening with hopes of photographing the Buff-breasted but the bird was nowhere to be found.

Other: A standard mix of warblers near the treeline was just about it. I couldn't resist digiscoping this Ring-billed Gull during my mid-morning boredom:

The forecast calls for another week of absolutely gorgeous weather!

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009- Jaeger

September started the same way August ended-- with absolutely gorgeous weather. Temps approached 70 degrees and winds were fairly light out of the NW.

Sunrise over Lake Superior

Waterfowl: It was another good day for Blue-winged Teal with 117 recorded. Other dabblers included 13 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler, a few Green-winged Teal, and an individual Mallard and American Black Duck. It was a so-so day for Red-necked Grebes with 203 and Common Loons with 17. 4 Horned Grebes were also recorded.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: We watched a very distant jaeger during the last hour of the count but the bird worked its way towards the Soo and never came close to land. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

Shorebirds: Pretty quiet, probably because the beach was under the constant surveillance of a Merlin, Peregrine, and Goshawk during the morning. 2 American Golden Plovers that briefly landed during the 4th hour were the highlight.

Other: It was a great day for raptors with 9 species seen from the shack including all three falcon species, Goshawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk, and even a mini-kettle of about a dozen Broad-winged Hawks.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter