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Migration Counts

The WPBO Migration Counts Blog provides updates on the spring and fall migrations of waterbirds, raptors, shorebirds, and more.

The Whimbrel Day

When I took on Whitefish’s spring waterbird count, there were several avian phenomena I looked forward to: Red-throated Loons mixing with the Commons in a ratio not found elsewhere in Michigan. Big scoter flights. The possibility of southwest winds and the vagrant birds they might bring. One of the things I looked forward to the [...]

2019-06-05T19:57:16-04:00June 5th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on The Whimbrel Day

Scoters, Bonaparte’s, and Long-tails: Waterbird Count Week 5

It hardly seems possible, but Whitefish’s Waterbird Count is nearing the end of its penultimate week. And, what a week it has been! Some of the migration moments I’ve been anticipating since season’s start have happened, and they’ve been well worth the wait. These include:  The Scoter flight: this time of year, hundreds of White-winged [...]

2019-05-23T23:42:22-04:00May 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Scoters, Bonaparte’s, and Long-tails: Waterbird Count Week 5

Surprises!

As we begin winding down for the season, there are a few tales from the hawk shack that have so far gone untold. The season peak for most of the raptor species that make their way through was around the end of April and the beginning of May. As it usually does, Michigan Audubon's annual [...]

2019-05-23T18:06:46-04:00May 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Surprises!

Week 4 Waterbird Count Recap: Good Numbers, Good Birds.

Some days, the most peaceful moments of the waterbird count are about ten minutes before it actually starts. I like to arrive at the shack a little early: collect the first weather data, scan the lake and beach for resting birds--ease into things, you know. When the sun edges up over High Hills, time starts [...]

2019-05-15T22:38:56-04:00May 15th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Week 4 Waterbird Count Recap: Good Numbers, Good Birds.

A New Bird

Once the raptor migration really gets going, it isn't often that we will get a new species for the season. By this time, all the species that are expected have already shown up at least once. However, I've learned to always expect surprises! Last week when scanning a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds, [...]

2019-05-09T14:56:34-04:00May 9th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on A New Bird

Welcome to May: 3rd Week of the Waterbird Count

  At this latitude, May is a high-octane month. Night starts later, day begins sooner, and I think we all flounder a bit as we try to keep up with all we want to see. When dusk falls, Long-eared Owls rise from the pines near the Point and often, I fall victim to the urge [...]

2019-05-09T21:30:19-04:00May 9th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Welcome to May: 3rd Week of the Waterbird Count

Ice Out, Birds In: Waterbird Count Week 2

Eight hours most days, I stand on Whitefish Point’s cobbled beach. There, from whichever side of the waterbird shack is the lee side du jour, I make sweeping scans with binoculars and spotting scope. To the west is a stand of scrappy jack pines where, this week, a shrike has (albeit with different, more murderous [...]

2019-05-01T16:05:55-04:00May 1st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Ice Out, Birds In: Waterbird Count Week 2

Tales from the Hawk Shack

There was an amazing Red-tailed Hawk show this past week complete with a leucistic and two dark morphs! Watching them made me realize how long individual Red-tailed Hawk can stick around throughout the day. It was interesting to see so many kettle far out, then break up and fly past the hawk deck, then come [...]

2019-04-23T20:50:54-04:00April 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Tales from the Hawk Shack

The Crossing: First Week of the Waterbird Count

A woodcock twitters overhead, squeezing one last display flight into a sky just beginning to color. You do claim this bird as your spring harbinger, I remind myself. It bears repeating--the morning’s commute starts as a cautious traverse across frozen melt puddles, then transitions to a postholing of sorts through still-deep snow. During the first [...]

2019-04-22T10:37:45-04:00April 22nd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on The Crossing: First Week of the Waterbird Count

A Week of Firsts

The last week of March and the first week of April were pretty slow for migrating raptors. A few birds each day, but nothing truly spectacular in terms of numbers. However, April 5 and 6 brought a few different birds to the Hawk Deck. With the majority of raptors seen so far being eagles or [...]

2019-04-08T18:54:44-04:00April 8th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on A Week of Firsts