Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pretty Good Flight

I had a feeling today would be a good one. Our last overcast day with SE winds and warm (ish) temperatures had some good numbers, and today was better. Things slowed down after the first few hours but it turned into a sunny rain-free day.

Weather: Cloudy most of the day, eventually the sun broke through. Temperatures into the mid 50s, with SE wind up to 18 mph. Rain was in the forecast but never showed.

Waterbird Count: 646 scaup, along with 78 greater scaup. Also 80 red-necked grebes, 54 common loons, 47 RB mergansers, 24 common mergansers, 22 American widgeon, 20 sandhill cranes. Also thrown into the mix were 14 bufflehead, 10 northern pintail, 7 horned grebes, 3 blue-wing teals, 2 northern shovelers, 2 gadwall, 2 great-blue herons, 1 WW scoter and 1 lone mallard.

Shorebirds: 1 killdeer

Other Sightings: Again lots of hawks. I saw a lot of rough-legged, red-tail and sharpies. Also an immature bald eagle.

Tomorrow doesn't look too promising. Possible rain the AM turing into a partly cloudy day. Temperatures only into the low 40s. The problem is going to be the NW winds 15-25 mph, which will very likely lead to a drop off from today. The loons may continue pushing through but I'll bet the other waterfowl will take the day off.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yes, you have the right blog, and that is indeed a picture. I didn't take it but never the less a common loon for your viewing pleasure.

Waterbird movement was better today, but not by much. I had one large flock of grebes and a decent loon count, but I was expecting a better day with SE winds and warm temperatures.

Waterbird Count: 40 RN grebes, 31 common loons, 12 common mergansers, 8 double-crested cormorants, 7 RB mergansers, 2 American widgeon, 2 sandhill cranes, 1 mallard.

Shorebirds: First tern of the year, 1 Caspian tern.

Other Sightings: Hawks flying all over place today. Red tails and sharpies were very active. Once again a lot of northern flickers around the sharpie sticks, but otherwise a quiet day on the tip.

Tomorrow might be a good day. Weather forecast isn't great, with clouds and 60% chance of showers. However temperatures will reach 50, and the wind will be coming from the SE at 10-15 mph. The last day like this was our best yet, so I'm cautiously optimistic it will be an active day.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Next to Nothing

I can't say much about today, except that I counted under 30 birds for the entire 8 hours.

Weather: Sunny all day, temperatures in the low 40s, with a NW wind 10-12 mph.

Waterbird Count: 11 double-crested cormorants, 8 common loons, 3 red-necked grebes, 1 red-throated loon, 1 common merganser, 1 RB merganser.

Other Sightings: Northern flickers were active again in the morning. I counted a maximum of 12 individuals at one time. A few bald eagles made their way over the beach, as well as a golden eagle later in the day. No shortage of sharpies and red tails either.

Just one of those days I guess. The wind certainly was not helping but there was hardly anything in the water today as well. We're almost into May now, so I don't predict many more of these slow days.

Forecast for tomorrow is mostly sunny, with temperatures into the 50s, and an ESE wind 10-20 mph. Looks like I should be in for a more exciting day tomorrow, but one can never really tell.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Monday, April 27, 2009

Finally Some Activity

Today started slow, but soon after the first hour ducks started flying every which way. Visibility was limited today by occasional fog, so many went unidentified but they were at least counted.

Weather: Cloudy all day, with only a light rain the last 90 minutes. Very strong SE wind most of the day.

Waterbird Count: A lot of high fliers off in the foggy horizon today, resulting in 73 identified ducks. Other notable numbers were 48 common mergansers, 43 RB mergansers, 41 scaup species, 33 common loons, 28 greater scaup, 20 lesser scaup, 12 double-crested cormorants, 12 gadwall, and 12 red-throated loons. There were some other lower numbers for other species, mostly locals counted as the first of the day.

Other Sightings: Not much aside from hawks. Saw plenty of rough-leggeds making their way across the bay, and tons of sharpies as usual. I had a merlin as well, and an adult bald eagle perched on the tip for a few minutes. There was also a glaucous gull on the beach early in the day.

Forecasts lately have proven to be a little off, though I'm certainly not complaining. I hope this isn't the case for tomorrow however, which looks to be mostly sunny, temps in the upper 40s. A NW wind 10-15 mph could make things difficult for the waterbirds but we'll see.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mixed Bag

The weather was kind enough to withhold the rain, but it was a pretty uneventful day at the waterbird shack.

Weather: Cloudy all day, temperatures failed to reach 40. Wind out of the E all day topped out at 10 mph and really died off the second half of the count.

Waterbird Count: Surprising amount of movement from the red-necked grebes, who until today were mostly just lollygagging around the bay. Overall 24 RN grebes, 22 common loons, 16 northern pintail, 6 common mergansers, 6 mallards, 2 RB mergansers, 2 LT ducks, 2 horned grebes, 2 gadwall, and our 2 resident Canada geese.

Other Sightings: Bird of the day in my area was the glaucous gull. It was spotted amongst a number of gulls who were mobbing a fishing boat a ways off shore. It then flew inland and passed right over our heads towards the lighthouse. First thing in the morning I mentioned to a spring fling guest if I got an interesting gull I'd consider it a good day so I'm keeping my word...sort of.

Forecast for tomorrow isn't too bad. Temperatures up to the mid 50s, but a 70% chance of rain that could last the entire day. Winds from the SSW at 15 to 25 mph. I'm predicting a decent day for the loons but not too hopeful for anything else tomorrow.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quick Update For Those of You Dying to know

I was slightly embarrassed to admit I struck out on the American avocet when I visited the harbor after my count ended. John and I revisited the harbor after the banquet, at about sundown and I got an excellent look at the quite odd and out of place bird. Now we can all sleep well tonight!

Bad Weather Didn't Spoil the Day

Despite pretty crummy weather it was a good day all around. We had a good amount of people out birding for spring fling despite the rain, and we had some nice birds.

Weather: Cloudy all day, with rain off and on. Temperatures in the 30s with a stiff wind out of the NW.

Waterbird Count: We had an exciting morning with more variety than I've seen since I started on 4/15. Leading the way today were the common loons with 27. Following the loons were 22 scaup (sp), 16 common goldeneye, 12 red-necked grebes, 9 common mergansers, 5 mallards, 4 bufflehead, 3 horned grebes, 3 great blue herons, 2 American widgeon, 2 northern pintail, 2 red-throated loons, 1 wood duck, 1 Canada goose, 1 double-crested cormorant, 1 blue-wing teal. Also 7 ducks with no ID.

Other Birds: I'm getting spoiled now by the snowy owls, we had our 3rd today since 4/20. Leonard first spotted this one around 7am, and it stayed on the point all day. At times it was huddled down behind a snag to get out of the wind, but most of our spring fling guests got a good look. Also two short-eared owls passed by the point early in the morning, struggling a bit with the wind, and around 8 lapland longspurs. An avocet (quite and oddball around here) was spotted around the harbor, WPBO sightings blog has a nice picture.

Forecast for tomorrow isn't too bad. Cloudy, with a 50% chance of rain. East winds 15-25 mph. Things are supposed to clear up by Tuesday so only two more days of clouds and rain until I catch a break.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Friday, April 24, 2009

Starting to Come Around

Today was a little bit disappointing but water fowl movement did increase. We had a good first couple hours for our Spring Fling tour, but then things came to a screeching halt. Today had the highest count for common loons and we even had some scaup and cormorants thrown into the mix.

Weather: Sunny, with strong winds from the SE. Good visibility all day.

Waterbird Count: 56 sandhill cranes, 15 common loons, 15 common mergansers, 11 common goldeneye, 10 LT ducks, 5 double-crested cormorants, 2 Canada geese, 2 lesser scaup, 2 RB mergansers. Also 7 unidentified ducks.

Shorebirds: First shorebirds officially counted today with 4 killdeer.

Other Sightings: Turkey vultures were very active today, I saw a kettle anywhere from 10-17 above the jack pines most of the day. Also an eastern phoebe on one of the sharpie sticks and a vesper sparrow. Sharpies were zipping around every which way all day so I'm guessing John had a good count.

Forecast for tomorrow is bad. Temperatures in the 40s, with thunderstorms in the morning giving way to steady rain the rest of the day. Also NW winds 10-20 mph. Rain is a possibility the next 4 days, but there's waterfowl to be counted and someone's gotta do it.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weather Improved, Waterbirds Unimpressed

Despite good weather today it was slow again. We did get a few firsts for the spring, including red-throated loons and a horned grebe.

Weather: Mostly sunny all day, temperatures into the 40s with light wind that started from the NW and shifted to the SE by days end.

Waterbird Count: A few flocks of sandhill cranes took advantage of the nice weather, 118 were counted. Also had 8 LT ducks, 6 northern pintail, 4 common goldeneye, 3 common mergansers, 3 RB mergansers, 2 red-necked grebes, 2 red-throated loons, 2 Canada geese, and 1 horned grebe.

Other Sightings: Fairly inactive day all around. John called in 4 golden eagles around 10am, Leonard was kind enough to cover for me while I went the parking lot to catch a glimpse. Towards the end of the day I had a sharpie, red-tail and kestrel. I also had my first birds fly into the shack today. Chris told me this happens from time to time but it was still quite the surprise. 4 snow buntings were the visitors, and they did not stay long.

Forecast for tomorrow looks very good. Partly cloudy skies, temperatures up to 60, with a SSE wind 10-20 mph. Hopefully the second straight day of good weather with the coax the birds up north. Tomorrow is the first day of spring fling as well so hopefully its a good one for our visitors.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The weather fluctuated today with snow in the morning and clear skies by the afternoon. The wind however, was strong, consistent and coming from the N/NW all day. Less than favorable conditions for waterbird migrations and the numbers reflect this.

Weather: Cloudy with snow in the morning. Clear skies and sunny by the afternoon but temperatures never really climbed out of the 30s. Winds from the N/NW were very strong, kicking up sand by the end of the day.

Waterbird Count: 36 sandhill cranes, 6 common loons, 5 red-necked grebes, 5 LT ducks, 3 RB mergansers, 1 common merganser, 1 common goldeneye and 1 great blue heron.

Other Sightings: Bird of the day for me was the bald eagle. Two arrived on the tip in the 3rd hour, one adult and one immature. They seemed to get into a scuffle with some gulls and a raven over some freshly caught fish. The adult stayed perched on a snag on the beach for about a half hour. I also spotted another swan just as I arrived at the shack in the morning. Once again didn't get a great look but probably a tundra swan.

Things are looking up tomorrow. Forecast is for mostly sunny skies with occasional clouds. Temperatures in the 40s and winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Hopefully some more waterbird movement will come with the wind shift.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Turned Into a Decent Day

It was another slow day for the waterbird count. However, the rain mercifully held off all day and the sun even poked through the last hour and a half. We had a snowy owl (probably one of the same ones from yesterday) spend the day on the point and engage in round 2 with a raven.

Weather: Cloudy most of the day with periods of sun the last 90 minutes. Temperatures in the 30s most of the day but warmed up to the 40s eventually. Wind started strong from the E, then SE before tapering off the last 3 hours.

Waterbird Count: 4 great blue herons flew in behind the shack and settled on the jack pines for a while. That was the highlight for the waterbird count. Other numbers were 10 common mergansers, 9 common loons, 4 common goldeneye, 4 red-necked grebes, 2 Canada geese, 2 bufflehead, 1 RB merganser, and 2 ducks with no I.D.

Other Sightings: Once again the snowy owl was the highlight. It had a pretty uneventful day perched right on the tip of Whitefish Point. A raven did engage the snowy in battle once more, but both birds lost interest quickly. I saw what I believed to be a flock of swans, I didn't get a great look as they swooped over head while I had the scope on some waterfowl. I'm waiting to see if anyone else spotted them today and I'll update later.

Forecast for tomorrow is mostly cloudy with a 50% chance of a rain/snow mix. Temperatures in the high 30s with winds 15-25 mph out of the NW. Doesn't sound great but the last 2 days haven't been as bad as predicted.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snowy Owls Save the Day

What would have been an all around crummy day on the tip of the point was given a big boost by a visit from 2 snowy owls.

Weather: Cloudy, temperatures in the mid 30s, with a pretty steady rain. Wind out of the E all day but not too strong.

Waterbird Count: Brief signs of life from the long-tailed ducks with 30 early in the day. Also 24 northern pintail, 11 common mergansers, 6 common goldeneye, 6 common loons, 4 bufflehead, 2 red-necked grebes. I also had 9 very sneaky unidentified ducks that I just barely got a glimpse of before they disappeared into the horizon.

Other Sightings: The day belonged to the beautiful snowy owls. I spotted the first one around 11:30pm while I was taking a stroll around the beach to warm up. I quickly made my way back to the scope to get a better look. First one I've ever seen, and a rainy slow day suddenly got a lot better. John, Chris and Nova showed up soon after. And following them was a second snowy! They were still hanging around the tip of the point a few hours later when we called it a day. Most of the time they were perched on logs right near the water, but occasionally were roped into a battle royale with some (bored?) crows. I was camera-less for the day; though even if that weren't the case one of mine is film and the other rubbish for bird shots. However, check the owl blog in the near future and there should be some very nice photos of the two.

Forecast for tomorrow is unfavorable at best. Temperatures steadily in the upper 30s, with a rain/snow mix the entire day. Today wasn't quite as bad as the forecast had indicated so one can only hope for the same thing tomorrow.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another slow one

Things were pretty quiet on the waterfowl migration front. It was a very chilly morning accompanied by a tough wind out of the east. The easterly winds stayed strong the first 4 hours of the count, conditions did gradually improve for the final few hours.

Weather: Partly to mostly cloudy, cold, temperatures started in the high 20s and reached the mid 40s. Strong wind from the E for half the day, and sunnier as the day went on.

Waterbird Count: Had a few stragglers from the 2000+ sandhill crane flight the other day, and one flock of Canada geese decided to brave the winds in the second hour. Overall 85 sandhills, 49 Canada geese, 8 common loons, 8 LT ducks, 7 common mergansers, 4 RB mergansers.

Other Sightings: During the quiet hours today I scanned the groups of gulls for anything interesting, but came up with only ring-billed and herring. Probably saw more sharp shinned hawks today than waterbirds, and kestrels seemed active again. Also 4 ships today, a high so far.

Forecast for tomorrow is grim. Rain and snow mix all day, with temperatures in the high 30s. Strong winds from the E again at 15-25 mph. Feel free to drop by with hot chocolate and anything else warm. I'll be the guy huddled in the shack a short distance up the beach.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tough day to be migrating waterfowl...

..or the guy counting them. Cloudy day started with a drizzle that turned into a steady rain for most of the day. The skies cleared up by the 8th hour, however by then there was a stiff wind coming from the NE. Some movement in the early hours but overall a slow day.

Weather: Cloudy, with periods of limited visibility. Temperatures in the high 30s, steady rain and wind from the NE.

Waterbird Count: 60 Canada geese, 42 mallards, 40 LT ducks, 26 common mergansers, 24 northern pintail, 6 common goldeneye, 5 RB mergansers, 2 white-winged scoters, 2 common loons, 1 hooded merganser. Also 14 unidentified ducks.

Other Sightings: Merlin and yellow-bellied sapsucker on the merlin pole in the morning. American kestrels seem awfully active today. Could be I just haven't spotted them until now, but there were several perched on the beach's snags and logs all day.

Forecast for tomorrow is most cloudy skies turning to partly cloudy as the day goes on. Temperatures close to 50, with wind from the E at 10-20 mph. Also a 20% chance of rain.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holy Sandhill Cranes!

Another very busy day for the sandhill cranes, who nearly tripled their numbers from yesterday.

Weather: Partly cloudy, clear, with temperatures in the high 50s. Fairly strong wind from the SE tapered off as the day went on.

Waterbird Count: Sandhill cranes were by far the most numerous with 2,075 counted! Some other numbers for the day included 279 Canada geese, 99 mallards, 14 LT ducks, 8 common mergansers, 4 common loons, 4 common goldeneye, 4 red-necked grebes, 2 American widgeon, 2 double-crested cormorants, 1 great blue heron. We also had 22 unidentified dabblers, 13 unidentified ducks and 1 teal spp.

Other Sightings: We had 4 tundra swans fly just over the shack in a north easterly direction. According to Leonard an oddball for this time of the year. Aside from that it was very active day for the hawks as John's blog will no doubt confirm. Seemed everytime I looked up during breaks from the sandhills I saw a rough legged making its away across the bay. Some other firsts for me since starting here were a cooper's hawk and immature goshawk.

Forecast for tomorrow is overcast skies with temperatures in the mid 40s. Chance of rain 40%, with winds 10-20 mph from the E. Looks like I've run out of beautiful days for the time being.

Just found out from Chris that highest count of sandhills in a single day before today was around 1400

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 2 Brings More Birds to Count

Day 2 was more exciting. A modest morning was followed by a slow few hours, and then a huge charge by the sandhill cranes. A few other sightings along with the cranes (including a great blue heron and glacous gull) rounded out a very nice day.

Weather: Sunny, clear, with temperatures in the high 50s and an occasional light breeze out of the SE.

Waterbird Count: Sandhill cranes led the way with 753 counted. Also 135 Canada geese, 40 northern pintail, 17 red-necked grebes, 12 mallards, 4 RB mergansers, 3 LT ducks, 3 common goldeneye, 2 common mergansers, 2 bufflehead, 2 common loons, 1 herring gull and 1 great blue heron.

Other Sightings: A flock of American robins made an appearance for the 2nd straight morning, this time numbering 52. We spotted 11 northern flickers, a pileated woodpecker, eastern phoebe, and a glaucous gull on the roof of a building on the harbor. Also 2 bald eagles and a dark morph rough-legged hawk along with numerous red-tailed and sharp shinned.

Leonard counted 273 more sandhill cranes after the count making the total for the 8 hours plus the DET 1005.

Forecast for tomorrow is partly cloudy skies, temperatues in the high 50s with WSW winds 5-10 mph.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Spring Count Begins

Weather: Very nice for the first day of the waterbird count. Sunny, clear, temperatures into the mid 50s with a light wind out of the NE that picked up later in the day.

Waterbird Count: Slow as expected. Overall 20 waterfowl counted, most within the first few hours. 3 Common Loons, 3 Common Goldeneye, 3 LT Ducks, 2 Mallards, 2 Canada Geese, 1 American Black Duck, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Common Merganser, 1 Red-breasted Merganser. 3 Sandhill Cranes were the only birds counted the last 5 hours.

Other Sightings: A flock of about 30 American robins spent the morning in the trees behind the shack, flying out over the beach on occasion. The merlin pole had several visitors throughout the morning, including a northern flicker, a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a merlin. We also spotted a bald eagle to the south near the harbor.

Forecast for tomorrow: Mostly sunny, highs in the mid 50s, with SSE winds 5-10 mph.

Andy N
Waterbird Counter