Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31, 2009- Bufflehead movement, etc

It was a great Halloween at Whitefish Point as the birds definitely proved to be more of a treat than a trick. Lame jokes aside, strong west winds brought in both quantity and quality of birds. It was about 40 degrees with on and off rain all day.

Waterfowl: The highlight was 601 Bufflehead, a very good movement for this species. Red-breasted Merganser also had their best day so far this fall with 843 seen. Interestingly, most were seen in the late morning and early afternoon once the Bufflehead had tapered down somewhat. Goldeneye had a good day with 77 flying by and scaup/aythya had their best day in quite some time with more than 800 seen. Scoters had a very good day with 157 White-winged, 8 Black, and 2 Surf. Other species seen today were Mallard, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated and Common Loon, and Horned and Red-necked Grebe.

Gulls/Terns: The most interesting bird was a tern that was following a group of Bonaparte's Gulls. Based on a few field marks, this was probably an Arctic Tern but because of distance not all field marks were seen and this bird will never lose the dreaded "probable" tag. Bonaparte's Gulls finally had a good movement today with 85 seen and 3 Great Black-backed and 1 Glaucous Gull hung around the tip all afternoon.

Shorebirds: 1 Sanderling and 1 distant unidentified flyby shorebird were all.

Other: The highlight of the day was a Western Grebe that Jason Bojczyk found at the harbor. The bird stayed just outside the harbor breakwall for more than an hour. There was a steady movement of Juncos and Tree Sparrows off the lake almost all day.

Western Grebe Photo by Jason Bojczyk

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

Chris covered the count for me on my day off yesterday. Overall, it was pretty slow but Chris had another Harlequin Duck, continuing this excellent fall for them.

The weather today made for a very slow day at the point. Winds were strong out of the SE (30+ mph) and a driving rain fell most of the day. However, temps were pleasant around 50 degrees.

Waterfowl: Long-tailed Ducks were the most common species with 44 seen. White-winged and Black Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loon, and Red-necked Grebe were seen in small numbers.

Gulls: A 1st year Great Black-backed Gull spent the morning at the tip and the afternoon in the harbor.

Shorebirds: None

Other: Nothing of note. Snow Buntings are still the most common bird on the beach.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009

It was another gorgeous day out at the point. Temps reached the mid 50's and skies turned mostly sunny by the afternoon.

Waterfowl: It was a much slower day than the previous few days. The highlight was another very impressive day for Black Scoters with 35 seen including a group of 17. Black was by far the most common scoter-- only 10 White-winged and 2 Surf were seen. It was also a good day for loons with 37 Commons and a Red-throated. Long-tailed Ducks were much less numerous today with just over 400 seen. A few Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Horned and Red-necked Grebes were seen and a lone American Black Duck was the only dabbler.

Shorebirds: 1 Dunlin spent most of the day in the puddle at the tip.

Other: The first two Redpolls of the season flew over on a good overall day for finches including groups of siskins, goldfinches, and a couple Red Crossbills.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27, 2009- EIDER & LT Ducks

It was a nice morning that turned into a gorgeous afternoon. Winds decreased to almost nothing and the sun broke out occasionally to warm the tip into the lower 50's.

Waterfowl: Another great Long-tailed Duck movement today with an absolutely incredible early morning. 10782 Long-taileds were counted today, about 9000 of which were seen during the first two hours of the count!! Another major highlight of the day was another hen EIDER that flew by with a White-winged Scoter and Pintail, making it the second day in a row an eider has flown by! Chris got a picture of this group that can be seen on the sightings blog. It was a pretty good day for scoters with 73 White-winged, 14 Black, and 6 Surf as well as another decent day for Common and Red-throated Loon and Green-winged Teal. Mallard, Gadwall, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, and Red-necked and Horned Grebe were all seen in low numbers.

Gulls: Nothing unusual today.

Shorebirds: Highlights were another White-rumped Sandpiper and a late Golden Plover. A few Dunlin were also recorded.

Other: A few groups of goldfinches and siskins migrated overhead and the Northern Shrike that was banded last week reappeared briefly by the shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009- EIDER, Iceland Gull, LT Ducks

My hopes for the day were not very high this morning when I walked out to the shack and was greeted by strong SE winds. I couldn't have been more wrong as waterbirds were moving almost all day, even when light rain began to fall in the afternoon.

Waterfowl: It was an excellent day overall, especially for Long-tailed Ducks. 7562 were tallied with many groups over 100 birds and the majority not very far offshore. Common Goldeneye also had their best day so far this fall with 79 seen. The highlight of the day however was a hen EIDER that flew by with 5 White-winged Scoters during the fifth hour. It was too far to tell if it was a King or Common but was nevertheless obviously an eider. Other highlights were an impressive late-fall flight of Green-winged Teal (103) and a bizarre looking duck that flew down the shore that we felt was probably a partially leucistic Surf Scoter. Wigeon, Mallard, Scaup, White-winged and Surf Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated and Common Loon, and Red-necked and Horned Grebe were all seen in decent numbers as well.

Gulls: Just after the excitement of the eider, a young Iceland Gull gave a very close flyby before continuing on over the lake.

Shorebirds: Another good day with 48 Dunlin, a Greater Yellowlegs, and a Sanderling.

Other: Not much at all besides continued good numbers of Snow Buntings.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25, 2009

The sun was out at times today which made things feel a lot different than the past few days. The temp almost reached 50 and winds were light out of the north.

Waterfowl: We had to have a slow day eventually after the past week of good waterbird movements. Well, today was that day. Long-tailed Ducks were the most common species with 48 seen. Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loons, Red-necked and Horned Grebes, and Common Goldeneye moved by in small numbers. Black Scoter was once again the most common scoter with 10 to only 9 White-wingeds.

Shorebirds: An OK day with 4 Dunlin and 3 Wilson's Snipe.

Other: There was a nice movement of Rough-legged Hawks this afternoon with 8 seen. A Northern Shrike (a different bird than the one banded earlier this week) spent a few minutes on the merlin pole. Snow Buntings continue to increase-- upwards of 200 were seen today.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24, 2009- Shorebirds!!!

It was another chilly day with drizzle almost all day and occasional rain showers. Winds were moderate out of the west.

Waterfowl: It was another very good day, even with decreased visibility because of the drizzle. Long-tailed Ducks had another 1000+ day and Red-breasted Mergansers had a good day with just over 600 seen. The highlight though was once again the scoters. 235 White-winged and 13 Surf were seen and Black Scoters continue their banner year with 37 seen today. Another highlight was a good late-fall push of Red-necked Grebes, especially in the afternoon- 277 were seen today. Decent numbers of Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Common, and Red-throated Loons were seen today as well as a couple Scaup, Horned Grebe, and Green-winged Teal.

Shorebirds: The highlight of the day. An amazing (for late October) 7 species were seen today, all in the morning. 86 Dunlin were present on the beach with 3 Sanderling, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, and 2 White-rumped Sandpipers. A Greater Yellowlegs spent about an hour at the pond towards the tip. A weird seen in the late morning was seeing a Wilson's Snipe fly in off the lake and land in the dune next to the shack. To cap off the great shorebird morning Chris spotted a phalarope flying down the shore. Unfortunately, we could not relocate the bird when we walked to the shore to get closer. This will go down as "phalarope species" but we feel that this was probably a Red Phalarope.

Other: When we were trying to relocate the phalarope, we spotted a swift over the lake. The bird never came close, in fact if flew back out over the lake and into the fog/mist. Hawks made the afternoon fun with an adult Northern Goshawk and 3 Rough-legged Hawks coming in off the lake.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 2009

It was another chilly day with cloudy skies and light to moderate rain in the afternoon. Winds were fairly strong out of the east.

Waterfowl: The good duck movement continued in the morning. Unfortunately, once the rain started, the movement came to a screeching hault. The highlights were scoters: 255 White-winged (200+ of which were in the first two hours), 22 Black, and 13 Surf. Red-breasted Mergansers had a good day with 433 seen and Long-tailed Ducks dropped off significantly from the last two days with "only" 190 seen. 3 species of dabblers were seen, the highlight being 10 American Black Ducks. Other species were Common and Red-throated Loon, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and Horned and Red-necked Grebe.

Shorebirds: A fun day with a movement of Dunlin- 73 total were seen in a few groups of 20-30. The day after the first White-rumped Sandpiper of the year, another one flew by today.

Other: Snow Buntings continue to increase-- more than 50 were seen on the beach today.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If you've been out to the count you know the birds can be distant, but the top photo shows part of a flock of over 100 scoters, and the bottom one shows scoters and Long-tailed Ducks. The scoter flock in the top photo included approximately 50 of today's 69 Black Scoters (I should have left the file size larger for these photos). It was a very nice flight overall so I stayed at the tip until it died two hours after the official count period. The totals included 6,219 Long-tailed Ducks, and 518 White-winged Scoters. Occurring in more modest numbers were Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common, Hooded, and Red-breasted Mergansers, Red-throated and Common Loon, and Red-necked Grebe.

The day's only shorebird was the above White-rumped Sandpiper.

Snow Bunting
Others: The number of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers were down from the large numbers being seen recently, but the season's first Red-bellied Woodpecker made a brief appearance on one of the Sharpy sticks today. Snow Bunting numbers increased today and decent numbers of Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur were also present. The Northern Shrike and a Northern Goshawk also made appearances. Tom ordered a DSLR camera so hopefully the waterbird blog will include photos more frequently very soon. They may be underexposed and out of focus, but what can you do?
Chris Neri

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009- Long-tailed Duck movement

Winds were light to moderate out of the NE today and cloudy skies gave way to a steady drizzle and then light rain in the afternoon.

Waterfowl: The "waterbird count" was a Long-tailed Duck count today. "Oldsquaws" were moving steadily throughout the day with more than a hundred seen every hour except the last hour of the count. 2158 Long-tails moved by today and it's a shame that the rain started in the afternoon because this drastically reduced visibility, which probably reduced the amount of Long-tails that were detected. The other highlight was a few Red-throated Loons that were still in breeding plumage that flew right down the shore in the afternoon. Otherwise, only a handful of other species were seen.

Shorebirds: A group of 10 Dunlin flew by during the third hour.

Other: A dozen Snow Buntings joined the group of Horned Larks, Pipits, and Lapland Longspurs on the beach. A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen for the first time in a couple weeks.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

Winds shifted to the ENE today and skies were mostly cloudy. The wind shift did not bring a push of waterbirds, in fact it was a very slow day.

Waterfowl: Very slow. The most common species was Long-tailed Duck with 92 seen, almost half of which was represented by one "bailout" flock with 10 minutes left in the count. Red-necked Grebes had an OK day with 63 migrating by. Scoters, Mergansers, and Scaup were all noticeably scarce with only single-digits of each moving by. 16 loons were seen-- 10 Common and 6 Red-throated.

Gulls: Nothing unusual. Herring Gulls seemed to be moving.

Other: A few large groups of Pine Siskins came in off the lake and a Northern Shrike spent a good amount of time hunting the beach.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009- Jaeger

It was another day of strong south winds and mostly cloudy skies. This time there was a decent waterbird movement in the morning despite the winds.

Waterfowl: Apretty good morning but a very slow afternoon. Highlights were about 100 scaup, 6 Redhead, and 20 scoters (18 White-winged, a Surf, and a Black). Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks had a poor day with 73 and 29 of each respectively. Horned Grebes put in a good showing with a dozen and modest numbers of Red-necked Grebes and Loons were seen. A few dabblers were seen with Mallard being the most common (14).

Gulls/Jaegers: A jaeger was seen harassing a gull during the second hour of the count but it was way too far to tell what kind. A possible second jaeger was with the bird but because of distance this was not confirmed. 7 Bonapartes Gulls were seen-- the highest count in what has been a terrible fall for them so far.

Other: The highlight of the day was 3 Goshawks making frequent passes along the treeline and over the beach, one of which was an adult. 26 Ravens were seen at once this morning which seemed odd. Chris found a Dickcissel near the parking lot in the morning and this bird moved to the feeders later in the day.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009

The wind was back today and it was back with a vengance. It was out of the south at around 30mph which put a damper on the waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: Slow compared to the last week or so. Red-breasted Mergansers and Red-necked Grebes were the most common birds with about 50 of each. Only 17 Long-tailed Ducks were seen and loon numbers could not escape the single digits. Amazingly, Black Scoters were more common than White-wingeds today but only 7 and 6 of each were seen respectively.

Shorebirds: A Pectoral Sandpiper flew over during the second hour.

Other: A juvenile Northern Goshawk buzzed the tip early and Merlins put on a show hunting Downy Woodpeckers over the water throughout the day (sorry Darlene).

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17, 2009

It was a rare windless day out at the point and in the afternoon mostly cloudy skies gave way to lake-effect snow and sleet squalls. Temps were around 40.

Waterfowl: A decent day but slower than the last few days. Red-breasted Mergansers put in another good showing with 466 individuals seen. 105 Long-tailed Ducks were seen and Goldeneye had their best day of the year with about 50 seen. 39 Common Loons were seen but no Red-throateds for the first time in a couple weeks. About 100 scaup/aythya were seen as well. The dabbler season continues to wind down, only a few were seen today.

Shorebirds: None

Gulls/Terns: Nothing interesting but Herring Gulls seemed to be migrating a little bit.

Other: Winter finches are reclaiming the point and their presence can be felt at the shack as well-- Evening Grosbeaks, both crossbills, Pine Siskin, and Purple Finch were seen/heard.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009- TUFTED TITMOUSE

Chris covered for me on my off day yesterday. It was fairly slow but he had 2 Harlequin Ducks which represent the 5th and 6th Harlequins of the season.

It was mostly cloudy today with light winds out of the NE and temps in the mid 40's. Waterbird movement was good, especially in the morning.

Waterfowl: The most common species were Red-breasted Mergansers (584), Long-tailed Ducks (450), and scaup (about 300). Perhaps the highlight of the morning was 19 Black Scoters, a rather high count for the most uncommon scoter at the point. About a hundred White-wingeds and a Surf were seen. Goldeneye had by far their best day of the fall so far with 40 seen. Loons and Grebes were seen in small numbers.

Gulls/Terns: Nothing besides Herring and Ring-billed. Herrings are outnumbering Ring-billeds more and more with each passing day.

Shorebirds: None.

Other: The highlight of the day was a TUFTED TITMOUSE that ventured out to the tip with a group of Chickadees around 1PM. It sat on the sharpie sticks for a second and made a couple passes towards the waterbird shack before working its way back into the woods. It has not been seen since but hopefully it will find the feeders if it is still around. Chris got a few nice pictures of this first WPBO record that can be seen on the sightings blog. Other highlights today included a Black-backed Woodpecker and migrating Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14, 2009

Another mostly cloudy and cool day with some scattered flurries. Winds were very light today which was very welcomed after the past couple weeks.

Waterfowl: A good morning and a slow afternoon. Scaup/Aythya made a nice push with almost 1000 seen during the first half of the day. Long-tailed Duck moved by in respectable numbers again with 259 seen. Red-breasted Mergansers also had a decent day with 211 seen. It was a good loon day with 32 Common and 8 Red-throated. All three species of scoters were seen including 4 close Black Scoters and a few Red-necked Grebes were seen each hour. Dabblers had a good day, especially Mallards, with 49 seen and Green-winged Teal with 14.

Shorebirds: Another 4 species day which you can't complain with this late in the fall. 10 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, a Golden Plover, and a Black-bellied Plover.

Other: The "other" category was the highlight of the day. Best bird was the first Northern Shrike of the fall, a juvenile. 2 Black-backed Woodpeckers spent some time on the merlin pole and a Pileated Woodpecker uncharacteristically flew out very close to the shack which is always a treat.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

October 13, 2009- Parasitic Jaeger

It was another mostly cloudy cool day with moderate winds out of the north. Movement was steady, especially in the morning.

Waterfowl: The highlight was the best day of the season so far for Long-tailed Ducks (541) and White-winged Scoters (222). Over 100 Red-breasted Mergansers were seen again as well as modest numbers of grebes and loons. Scaup/Aythya were noticeably uncommon today with only about 100 seen. 6 species of dabblers were seen with Mallard, Green-winged Teal, and American Black Duck being the most common species.

Gulls/Terns/Jaegers: The highlight of the day was a dark or intermediate juvenile Parasitic Jaeger. It came in from the north and milled around towards the tip of the point before turning around and flying back to the north. We hoped to see it again but never did.

Shorebirds: Another good day with 4 species seen. A Greater Yellowlegs flew over early and a nice mixed group spent a little bit of time on the beach in the afternoon composed of 5 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a Black-bellied Plover.

Dunlin & Sanderling: Pectoral Sandpiper:
Other: Not much besides a somewhat late Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calling near the merlin pole.
Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009- Long-billed Dowitcher

It was another cool fall day with overcast skies and temps in the lower 40's. Light rain began to fall with about an hour and a half left in the count and continued until the end.

Waterfowl: Long-tailed Ducks made their first decent push of the year with 271 seen. Red-breasted Mergansers were the second-most common migrating waterbird with 172 seen. Sounds like late fall doesn't it?? Numbers of scoters dropped way off from the weekend with only 8 White-wingeds and a Surf and Loon numbers were lower as well with 14 Common and 2 Red-throateds. A few dabblers and Horned and Red-necked Grebes also went by.

Shorebirds: The shorebird season is not over yet!! An excellent day with the highlight being a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. The bird was in a flock of 7 Black-bellied and 1 Golden Plover and was heard calling as the flock buzzed the tip several times. Unfortunately they did not land despite the pools present at the tip. This is only the 4th record of this species for the point and the 2nd fall record. Chris got a few pictures of the dowitcher which can be seen on the sightings blog. A Greater Yellowlegs and a Dunlin also stopped by in the morning, both of which were first for the season.

Gulls/Terns: 4 Bonapartes Gull's flew by today. Hopefully a sign of more on the way.

Other: Not much else interesting to report besides a Pileated Woodpecker flying out near the shack for a quick but nice look.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11, 2009

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning with a fresh inch of snow and the combination of snow squalls and the sunrise over the lake. Most of the day was cloudy and temps never climbed out of the 30's.

Waterfowl: Another fairly steady movement. White-winged Scoters were the most common waterbird with 169 seen. About the same number of Red-breasted Mergansers were seen as well as about 100 Red-necked Grebes. Loons are still moving-- 30 Common and 3 Red-throated were seen. Mallards were once again the most common dabbler among 5 species of dabblers with 26 seen. Scaup/Aythya were way down from the previous two days-- only about 100 were seen today.

Shorebirds: Not today.

Other: The highlight of the day was two Short-eared Owls coming in off the lake during the morning. The first Snow Bunting of the year was also seen which seemed way too appropriate for today's setting.

Thanks again to all the birders from the Lower Peninsula and Indiana for making this a very fun weekend out at the waterbird count.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10, 2009

The weather was shifting again today with winds moderate out of the SW. Partly sunny skies turned cloudy and rain and the first snow of the season started just before the end of the count.

Waterfowl: Another good movement, especially scaup. About 2000 Scaup/Aythya migrated by today as well as a decent number of Red-breasted Mergansers (309). Mallard were the most common dabbler with 62 and Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, and Green-winged Teal also put in appearances. Scoters, loons, and grebes all had a slow but steady day.

Shorebirds: A late Semipalmated Plover was the highlight and a Golden Plover was seen.

Gulls/Terns: One Bonaparte's Gull was the only non- Herring/Ring-billed.

Other: Most interesting was a swallow that ripped in off the lake as soon as the rain and snow started. It came by very close but it was so fast that nobody got a good look at it. With the naked eye it was clear that the bird was either a Cliff or Cave Swallow. Red and White-winged Crossbills were both seen in groups flying between the treeline and shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9, 2009- Sabine's Gull & Scaup movement

It's hard for any day to follow up the kind of amazing day that yesterday was but today didn't do that poorly of a job. Skies were mostly sunny, temps were in the upper 40's, and winds were moderate out of the North.

Waterfowl: There was a huge movement of scaup today. The combined totals of scaup and other aythya species (Redhead and Ring-necked) was about 5000 birds!!! Birds were moving by at an incredibly fast pace in the morning when each of the first three hours recorded more than 1000 individuals. Scoters had a good day as well with 148 White-winged, 16 Surf, and 2 Black. Dabblers weren't nearly as plentiful as yesterday but Wigeon (39), Mallard (15), and Green-winged Teal (33) put in decent showings. Loons and grebes moved by in decent numbers as well with 130 Red-necked and 37 Horned Grebes and 89 Common and 9 Red-throated Loons.

Gulls/Terns: The highlight of the day was a juvenile SABINE'S GULL that flew by during the 5th hour. The bird didn't stick around but flew by slowly for a nice and not-too-distant look for the lucky birders who were present at the waterbird shack at the time.

Shorebirds: A Golden Plover and Black-bellied Plover stopped by briefly.

Other: Red Crossbills were seen occasionally and the Merlin made mincemeat of another Downy Woodpecker that made an ill-advised flight towards the tip of the point.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the birders who were present today for helping me spot flocks of scaup and other migrating waterfowl this morning-- especially Chris Neri, Skye Haas, Darleen Friedman, Jeff McCoy, John Cassady, and Ken Mettie Jr (I'm sure I'm missing a few others). Without your help, a lot of birds would have slipped by without being counted or ID'd.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8, 2009- Incredible Day!!!!!

I can't even fit all of the highlights from today into the subject line! Highlights during the count were a SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, probable Boreal Owl, and Short-eared Owl and after the count were NORTHERN HAWK OWL and RED PHALAROPE.

It was mostly cloudy with winds out of the south at first shifting to the west. It was my day off so Chris did the counting which allowed me to casually bird the point for a change of speed.

Waterfowl: A very good mix of waterbirds went by today, especially dabblers. 187 Wigeon, 68 Gadwall, 35 Mallard and a few others. Scaup went by in ok numbers (about 250). Red-necked Grebes had another solid day with 201 seen but RB Mergansers (35) and White-winged Scoters (9) dropped off significantly from yesterday. However, 10 Surf Scoters and a Black were seen.

Shorebirds: None during the count but a very good one after the count. See below.

Other: The highlight of the count was a SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER that came in during mid-morning. The bird spent about an hour near the treeline until it moved on. A distant digiscoped picture is below-- see the sightings blog for much better pictures. A Short-eared Owl came in off the lake around the same time. In early afternoon we watched a medium-sized owl come out of the woods and fly north over the lake towards Canada. From what we were able to see, the best candidate for this bird was a Boreal Owl.

After the count: Many birders stayed out because of the excitement earlier in the day and were rewarded for doing so. Things started with a Short-eared Owl sitting at the end of the tip but this bird was soon forgotten about when a NORTHERN HAWK OWL was discovered on the merlin pole. It was enjoyed by many for about 10 minutes until it flew north over the lake. A picture of the Hawk-Owl is below. Just a little later Chris spotted a shorebird flying down the beach which looked like it landed near the tip. After some searching we found a phalarope a couple hundred yards away. Thankfully, it gradually worked its way closer and we were able to id the bird as a RED PHALAROPE!! See the sightings blog for an idable picture of this bird.

It was one of those legendary days that Whitefish Point is known for and a day that I'll never forget in my life.

Tom Prestby

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7, 2009- Harlequin Duck

The rain ended just before the count started this morning and skies remained cloudy for the whole count. Winds started strong out of the NW and gradually decreased throughout the day.

Waterfowl: A good day. The highlight was a female-type Harlequin Duck that came down the shore during the 7th hour of the count. Movement of other species was very good this morning and slowed in the afternoon. The species with the most presence were Red-breasted Mergansers (422) and Red-necked Grebes (381). Scoters had a decent day with 65 White-winged and 11 Surf and loons had a modest day with 18 Commons and 4 Red-throated. Scaup numbers were way lower than yesterday (about 100) but a group of 7 Ring-necked Ducks was nice to see. Dabblers included a handful of Pintail, Wigeon, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, and American Black Duck.

Shorebirds: Zero.

Other: Not much could be detected from the treeline because of the wind. The highlight was probably 2 Merlins chasing each other over the shack.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6, 2009

Temps were around 50 today and cloudy skies in the morning turned into a light to moderate steady rain in the afternoon. Winds were fairly strong out of the SE.

Waterfowl: A pretty good day for numbers and variety. Scaup made their biggest push of the year so far with more than 700 counted. All three species of scoters were seen-- 52 White-winged, 2 Black, and a Surf. A few dabblers flew by, mainly Wigeon and Mallard. Loon numbers today were decent again with 37 Commons and 2 Red-throated.

Shorebirds: 2 Sanderling, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and an American Golden Plover were seen.

Other: The weirdest sight of the day was a wren that flew in off the lake. It came in too far away to tell what it was but chances are it was a Winter Wren. It was nice to hear Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills again for the first time in a couple weeks for either species.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5, 2009

The weather pattern continues to be mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers as this weakening low pressure system spins over us.

Waterfowl: It was slow overall with a very slow morning and a little bit better of an afternoon. Scaup were the most numerous migrating waterbirds with about 100 seen. Red-necked Grebes moved by in OK numbers with 51 seen and Loons put in a modest showing with 14 Commons and 13 Red-throateds. It was a poor scoter day but all three species were seen-- numbers were 9 White-wingeds, a Surf, and a Black.

Shorebirds: None.

Other: A Peregrine Falcon gave a nice flyby and a few groups of Lapland Longspurs came in off the lake.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Highlights:Harlequin Ducks

There has been a large low pressure system slowly moving through the last few days and waterbirds have been relatively slow. Despite the weather there has been a couple notable recent sightings.

Waterbirds: The most regular species over the last two days have been White-winged Scoter and Red-breasted Mergansers with 175 and 163 seen respectively. Also seen in low numbers were American Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Common Merganser, Red-throated and Common Loons, and Horned and Red-necked Grebes. There was also two sightings of swans yesterday. Two were seen angling away from the shore before landing way out on the lake and later in the day 7 probable Trumpeters were seen off the tip (top photo). Today 3 female type Harlequin Ducks flew by at medium distance.

Shorebirds: One American Golden-Plover, and 2 Sanderling

Others: Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Bald Eagle, Lapland Longspur, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet along with more of the regular species.

Chris Neri

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009

It was another typical fall day with cloudy skies and a temp in the upper 40's. Winds were strong out of the east between 30 and 40mph.

Waterfowl: It was a tale of two halves with a very active morning and a dead afternoon. The highlight this morning was a good push of Scoters including 178 White-winged and 9 Surf. Red-Breasted Mergansers also made a good push with 101 birds and Pintail were the only dabbler with 15 flying by. Surprisingly, loons were completely absent today and only 4 Red-necked Grebes were seen.

Shorebirds: I was skunked for the first time this fall.

Other: Not active because of the strong winds. A Peregrine Falcon landing close to the shack towards the end of the count was the highlight.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009

It was a sunny and chilly day with a brisk breeze out of the north around 15mph. Unfortunately, the north winds did not translate to a waterbird movement.

Waterfowl: Painfully slow. The lone highlight was the first Black Scoter of the season with a group of White-wingeds. 8 White-winged Scoters were seen as well as 19 Red-necked Grebes, a Horned Grebe, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, and only a couple scaup. Loons had a very subpar day as well with 3 Commons and 1 Red-throated seen.

Shorebirds: A pretty good day for variety. Solo Golden Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, and Pectoral Sandpiper were detected.

Other: 2 Merlin and a Sharp-shinned Hawk engaged in an acrobatic battle over the shack this morning which was very fun to watch. Chris found a Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in the woods.

Looks like the weather is going to change again tomorrow with strong winds out of the East and a chance for rain.

Tom Prestby
Waterbird Counter