The Birds are Leaving

It’s that time of year again; the count ends and the birds leave. Well, maybe there are still some birds hanging on up here. As expected, the waterbird counts were relatively slow throughout the last week and a half of November but the rarities kept the count interesting. We did have a couple of good flight days that consisted mostly of Bufflehead (672 on 11/8) and Long-tailed Duck (972 on 11/14).

Long-tailed Ducks migrating past the point.

Long-tailed Ducks migrating past the point.

To the waterbird rarities, the clear highlight of November (and for that matter the entire season) was an Ancient Murrelet on 11/14. The murrelet was first seen in flight but then landed off the point. It took a couple hours to relocate it in the waves. Luckily, there were a few birders around to enjoy this rare sight on Lake Superior. Another highlight was a flyby eider species on 11/8. Unfortunately, the views were not close enough to identify to species. A Pacific Loon provided some entertainment for the last few days of the count while it was floating offshore. And, last but not least, a Thayer’s Gull (11/8) and Iceland Gull (11/11) rounded out a great season for gulls at the point.

A first cycle Thayer's Gull that spent an afternoon at the pond by the waterbird shack.

A first cycle Thayer’s Gull that spent an afternoon at the pond by the waterbird shack.

The non waterbird highlights in November were quite spectacular. As mentioned in a previous post we had a Painted Bunting on 11/2. Strangely enough, this was not the bird of the month. A completely unexpected, 1st state record Sagebrush Sparrow, was found on 11/11 by Leonard Graf. This is only the 3rd record of this species east of the Mississippi that I am aware of. A Boreal Chickadee was seen from the waterbird shack on 11/9; this species hadn’t been reported from the point in a couple of years. Also, two Cave Swallows on 11/5 gave nice views to a few lucky birders.

The first state record, Sagebrush Sparrow

The first state record, Sagebrush Sparrow