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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.

Lake Effect

Most hours of most days, the little flock of Snow Buntings are the closest thing to company out at the waterbird shack. They’re pretty good for that, actually--hardy birds that flit about the frozen beach, gleaning the sparse grass, giving happy calls even when the snow is so profuse I can’t see the lake. Watching [...]

2019-11-09T20:28:01-05:00November 9th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Lake Effect

The Season of Long-tailed Duck

To the Inuit of Nunavut, the arrival of the Long-tailed Duck (or in their language, aggiarjuk) heralds spring’s coming. Traditional songs exalt the event--”When we have survived the worst and the future looks promising, the Long-tailed Ducks have now returned. As they return, they are full of joyous spirit.”  At Whitefish Point, where one spends [...]

2019-11-02T23:22:54-05:00November 2nd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on The Season of Long-tailed Duck

Waterbird Count Recap: 18-25 October, 2019

Gale-force winds (temporarily) felled the shack this week...  October is an easy month to love at the Point. Each morning, I gear up in the parking lot, entertaining unrealistic fantasies of what might fly by the count (or perch on the Merlin pole…) It is a favorite time of day--the sky is colorful, [...]

2019-10-25T21:11:58-05:00October 25th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Waterbird Count Recap: 18-25 October, 2019

Waterbird Count Recap through 17 October

On a brisk morning at the Point, one finds the mind and body to be in conflict. While the body craves the shelter that comes from huddling on the south side of the counter’s shack, the mind knows that pursuing comfort means that more birds might slip by undetected. On a heavy flight, after weeks [...]

2019-10-18T07:29:54-05:00October 18th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Waterbird Count Recap through 17 October

Waterbird Count recap through 7 October

The right winds in early October usher Whitefish’s peak Aythya (certain diving ducks like scaup and Redhead) flight past the Point, and yesterday, the 7th, was fun. For most of the count, each time I looked to the northwest, a new duck flock had sprung the gate and was rapidly traversing the zone of easy [...]

2019-10-08T18:03:52-05:00October 8th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Waterbird Count recap through 7 October

Fall Waterbird Count Update: 22-28 September 2019

Visible migration must be one of the more beautiful, raw phenomena of this world, and the past week at the waterbird count has provided frequent opportunities to appreciate it. This is a welcome departure from 8-hour loops of occasional, heat-distorted Red-necked Grebes that defined many days in early September!  The energy accompanying fall migration is [...]

2019-09-30T17:51:19-05:00September 30th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Fall Waterbird Count Update: 22-28 September 2019

WPBO Waterbird Count Recap 14-20 September

The Waterbird Shack seems to exist in its own universe. It certainly has its own microenvironment--comfortable weather at the parking lot does not necessarily translate to comfortable weather at the Point. This detail is responsible for both the hasty retreats of ill-prepared visitors and the sideways glances directed my way when I emerge at the [...]

2019-09-23T00:04:46-05:00September 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on WPBO Waterbird Count Recap 14-20 September

Waterbird Count Update through 13 September

This morning, I huddled against the lee side of the Waterbird Shack: chilly, wet, panning a scope mounted on a shaking tripod in a mostly futile attempt to distill migrating waterbirds from mammoth swells. Lake Superior has certainly outdone herself in welcoming me back to her shores.  Though I was gone three and a half [...]

2019-09-13T23:12:50-05:00September 13th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Waterbird Count Update through 13 September

An August Overview

Since the last blog post, the migration past the point slowed down to a crawl. There was even a day that we didn't count a single Red-necked Grebe! But, migration heated back up on the Aug. 30 when we recorded 2,269 Red-necked Grebe. We've also seen some good Common Tern flights. The best flight consisted [...]

2019-09-03T12:33:58-05:00August 31st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on An August Overview

A Steady Start

The fall waterbird count kicked off on the morning of Aug. 15. We've been lucky to start the season off with relatively good numbers throughout the first week. As usual for August, our most common migrant has been the Red-necked Grebe. We've counted a total of 3,292 with a peak of 809 on Aug. 20. [...]

2019-08-23T13:18:49-05:00August 21st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on A Steady Start