Thursday, October 7, 2010

A point milestone

juvenile Bonaparte's Gull
While one of the original reasons to start the waterbird count at Whitefish Point was to document the loon migration, one of the other main reasons was to document the Red-necked Grebe passage.  On the loon front this year has been very underwhelming with Commons at only half of their longterm average and Red-throateds are at two-thirds of their longterm average, but after today's count of 211 grebes we have passed the previous high count of 16,624 set in 2001 with 16,709 now recorded and another month plus to add to that total.  The old adage "slow and steady wins the race" seems to sum up this year's grebe migration with no one singular day making up a huge portion of the total but instead many good days adding up to make a record-breaking number.

Overall migration was better today than yesterday with Aythya ducks making up a large percentage of the birds seen yet again.  The top three species were similar with Greater Scaup still first with 490 counted while Red-breasted Merganser slid into the two spot with 227 and Redhead was again third with 188.  Dabbling duck numbers (particularly American Wigeon and Mallard) were much lower than yesterday while scoter numbers remained steady (107 White-wingeds, 74 Surfs, and 1 Black) and "other" diving duck numbers were about the same.  Of note were the first 2 Buffleheads of the season that went past soon after sunrise.  Accounting for the overall increase in birds for the day were the Gaviidae and Podicipedidae families with 138 Common and 9 Red-throated Loons seen along with 211 Red-necked and 55 Horned Grebes.

Well on a positive note there were 6 Sanderlings on the point today so I at least wasn't shut out in the shorebird department again, unfortunately that's about all there was in the shorebird, gull, tern, and allies bird realm.

Its amazing what a difference having a few eyes in the woods makes as today's landbird list was much larger albeit with no major highlights.  The most notable species included the season's first Common Redpoll among the hordes of Pine Siskins and a Clay-colored Sparrow among the Chippies.  A few Rusty Blackbirds were noted flying in off the lake early this morning.


Tom said...

Hope you're ready for tomorrow! It's the anniversary of one of the best days ever at the point, possibly the best. I'm sure you'll have tons of birders up at the shack with you this weekend. You're doing a great job with the blog- keep it up!

Tom (last years counter)

WPBO said...

Thanks man. Can't quite live up to last year's success for this weekend yet but had a few nice birds the past two days. Suppose to be "favorable" winds tomorrow so we will see, this big high pressure system sitting up here is really cramping my style though lately.