Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall 2009 Summary

101611 individuals of 73 species of waterbirds were seen during this fall's count. The number of individuals is about 20 thousand birds above average. This was the second-highest amount of individuals seen in a fall and only the third fall with 6-figure individuals. This includes all of the "reasonable" ducks such as uncommon species like Eider species, Harlequin Duck, Canvasback, Hooded Merganser, and Wood Duck.

For the most part, the weather was accommodating for observation. Fog, haze, rain, and snow only hindered possible observation a relatively low amount of days. September and November were unusually gorgeous and August was normal. October was colder and wetter than normal but most of the rain fell at night. Snow only fell a few days with accumulation once.

The five most common species were:

Long-tailed Duck- 32841 (2nd highest seasonal count)
Red-necked Grebe- 10407
Scaup sp.- 7504
Red-breasted Merganser- 7178
Canada Goose- 5792

The only record high seasonal count set this fall was for Harlequin Duck which tied the seasonal record of 7. Scoters were drastically different between species with 255 Blacks-- a second highest seasonal count, 173 Surfs-- a second lowest count, and 3163 White-wingeds, a slightly above average number.

Noteworthy waterfowl seen this fall were Snow and Cackling Goose, Canvasback, Eider species on two different days, Pacific Loon, Western Grebe, Long-tailed Jaeger, Franklin's Gull, Iceland Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sabine's Gull, and Forster's Tern. Interesting shorebirds included Piping Plover (the first time they bred on the point in 23 years), 12 Whimbrel (2nd highest fall count), Long-billed Dowitcher (4th point record) and Red Phalarope. Noteworthy non-waterbirds seen from the waterbird count were Northern Hawk Owl, Boreal Owl, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Tufted Titmouse (1st point record). Mammals also provided some highlights including Bull Moose, Red Fox, and a canine that was either a Wolf or large unusually marked Coyote.

Finally, I would just like to say that I had a great time as the fall waterbird counter. I would like to thank Chris Neri for spelling me once a week and joining me during the afternoons. I would especially like to thank all of the birders and visitors who stopped by during the count. It was great to spend time with the regular point birders and it was wonderful to meet new people almost every day.

Have a great winter everyone!
Tom Prestby


Michigan Audubon said...

Great work, Tom! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the waterbird count and operations at the Observatory.

I hope to see you again at Whitefish Point.

Best regards,

RJP said...

Tom, thanks to you, Chris, and the others who monitor the Point. I was up with the group of Indiana birders (McCoy, Cassady, et. al.) in October. It was a first for me and I enjoyed it very much. Since then I've read this site every day and really appreciate your posts and Chris' as well. It makes me want to spend the whole season up there. Would love to see you all sometime at Miller Beach in Indiana on a good strong late fall front. Best wishes!


dark and light said...

So the canine was possibly not a wolf. Didn't know. Did you get some feeback to the contrary. See you in Wisconsin soon!