Thursday, September 23, 2010

MIZZ-UR-A-BULL weather

adult Lesser Black-backed Gull in the harbor

So today dawned with rain and strong E/SE winds, and it never changed.  Rain showers hit the point on and off all day long and the wind picked up through the day never deviating from the ESE or SE.  Despite that some birds still flew on and with tomorrow's forecast of similar conditions but with winds from the SW and W my hopes are high for what might fly by.

Today's best bird by far was a non-breeding plumaged Laughing Gull that made two quick passes along the lake in front of the shack about 9 and 11 this morning, unfortunately the bird never came in to the point to roost or in shore for a picture.  While this species is a rare, but not entirely unexpected, late spring and summer wanderer to the area a fall bird anywhere inland is exceptionally uncommon and much like the recent southern finds on Lake Michigan it could be due to recent tropical systems from the Gulf of Mexico.  Also quite rare for the point was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull that was found after the count concluded in the Whitefish Point harbor while looking in vain for the Laughing Gull; add in another juvenile Sabine's Gull and today was quite the gull day for the point.

Overall diversity was good today despite not having a large count of any particular species or group.  The most common species for the day were White-winged Scoter (59), Canada Goose (47), and Northern Pintail (43), the breakdown is notable because for the first time this year the top three does not include Red-necked Grebe.  Duck diversity was good today with handful of dabbler species including the first 2 Wood Ducks of the year, 9 American Black Ducks, and 16 Northern Shovelers while divers consisted mostly of White-winged Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers with the first 2 Long-tailed Ducks of the season flying the wrong way past the point this morning.  Loons far outnumbered grebes for the day with 23 Common and 17 Red-throateds as compared to 10 Red-neckeds and 4 Horneds.

Jaegers were present once again with at least 4 individuals seen today including 2 Parasitics and 2 unknowns. The parasitics included a light-morph adult bird that is likely the same bird that was seen a couple days ago and a light-morph juvenile that made a number of passes throughout the morning and afternoon.  Shorebirds were almost non-existent with 16 Sanderlings along the shoreline and a group of 6 American Golden-Plovers that set down on the point during one of the rain showers being the only ones seen.

Due to the weather I wasn't able to bird the woods at all today so I have no idea what may or may not be in there right now but the flock of "open land" birds on the point is still present with the Lapland Longspur count up to 13.


The Owl Ranch said...

Hi Scott,

Nice selection of larids today. I believe, but must check the records, that this is the first fall record of Laughing Gull for the UP.


markie said...

Hold on to your hats, matey!! Friday should be a wonderful blow!!