Greetings, this is the Whitefish Point Sightings Report for the week of April 29th-May 5th. Well another Spring Fling has come and gone, and the birding did not disappoint! Very educational for all was the presence of expert birders Jerry Liguori (raptors), and Cameron Cox (waterbirds) out birding the point as well as giving excellent presentations. While south winds have been few are far in between, mild conditions allowed for the arrival of migrants over the weekend and several new species for the season were recorded.
Well the best bird of the season so far has been a male EURASIAN WIGEON first found on the 30th, directly after the Saturday night Spring Fling Keynote Banquet at the Tahquamenon River mouth. Many birders were able to get down to the river mouth before the sun set and the bird, if accepted by the Michigan Bird Records Committee will represent the 1st Chippewa County record and the 4th UP record. But in an equally exciting moment, the Eurasian Wigeon flew past the Waterbird Count shortly after dawn the next morning, adding the further title of 1st Point Record! Other than this great bird, dabbling ducks have actually been pretty thin. We have yet to record a Blue-winged Teal for the season. Diving ducks are slightly increasing with near daily flocks of Lesser Scaup. The first White-winged Scoters of the year flew by over the fling weekend. Long-tailed Ducks are still in very low numbers.
Common Loons have finally started to move through in decent numbers with a robust total of 740 on the 5th! The 30th also had a good total with 132 Common Loons as well as 40 Red-throated Loons. Red-necked Grebes have had a few good flight days with 87 on the 3rd, and 144 on the 5th.
American Bitterns have been seen a few nights from the Owl Deck, with the first being seen on the 30th. Sandhill Cranes still are moving though in far fewer numbers. Shorebirds are still low in diversity but an exciting AMERICAN AVOCET flyby on May 1st was only 3rd Point Record! Other new species of shorebirds observed this week include Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper. The first Bonaparte’s Gulls were seen on May 1st, and a Glaucous Gull was observed on the 4th.
Hawks have remained surprisingly decent given all the north winds we have been having. 35 Northern Harriers on the 4th was a good push of birds. Broad-winged Hawks have had a few decent flight days with over 200 seen nearly every day this month so far. A juvenile Krider’s/Eastern Red-tailed Hawk made for a nice bit of variety on the 29th. There continue to be a few dark morph Red-tails being observed. Golden Eagles continue to trickle through, 80 have been recorded for the season so far. Peregrines have become more regularly observed, with near daily sightings. The season total for raptors crossed the 10,000 mark and the big Broad-winged is just around the corner!
Owls continue to stupefy with the all time high new season total having been reached of 300 Long-eared Owls! This easily passes by the previous high season total of 176 set in 1999. Long-ears have frequently been seen from the Hawk Deck at dusk as well. Northern Saw-whet Owls continue to trickle through, and the season total stands at 193.
We finally got a good influx of passerines for the Spring Fling! Chickadees and nuthatches continue to be present in lower than expected numbers, but more obvious migratory species made notable increases. Hermit Thrushes finally made a big push into the area. On the beach, numbers of Horned Larks, American Pipits and Lapland Longspurs have finally increased. Blue-headed Vireo was seen on the 2nd. Very exciting has been the arrival of multiple warbler species. The 30th saw among a good push of Yellow-rumps was several Palm and Pine Warblers, as well as a couple of Nashville Warblers. A few other species reported locally include Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula and Black-and-white Warbler. Sparrows also appeared in good numbers. White-throated Sparrow has been particular common, but others include American Tree, Chipping, Clay-colored, Lincoln’s, Song, White-crowned, Vesper, and Juncos. Notable as May begun have been some early season birds lingering on. Snow Buntings, Bohemian Waxwings and Common Redpolls have been seen in small numbers the last few days, and on the 5th, after not being seen for a few weeks was a Pine Grosbeak on the hawk count.
Regional birds of interest include Trumpeter and Tundra Swans at the Tahquamenon River mouth; Trumpeters have also been seen at the Shelldrake Flooding. Spruce Grouse have been regular on Vermilion and Farm Truck Roads, and Sharp-tailed Grouse have been seen on Vermilion Road. A Black-backed Woodpecker was seen on Farm Truck Road on the 30th.