Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Greater Scaup &
Green-winged Teal (click to enlarge)

Northern Pintail, eider, and
White-winged Scoter (click to enlarge)

Highlights: eider, Northern Shrike, Black-backed Woodpecker

For the second day in a row an eider was seen at the waterbird count. Today's eider is the middle bird in the bottom photo. This photo will need to be reviewed by the records committee to see if it can be pinned to a species. There are aspects of its shape which may suggest Common, but we're still searching for photos of King and Common in flight for comparison before we can even convince ourselves.. From left to right the upper photo shows one Surf Scoter, 6 Black Scoters, 4 Greater Scaup, 1 Green-winged Teal, and 6 more Greater Scaup, you may have to scroll the photo to see all the birds. The Northern Shrike I color banded last Wednesday was seen again today for the 1st time since Thursday. While there was no change in species diversity the woods were more active today than they have been recently. There was a big increase in the number of American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and American Goldfinch. There were also more Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets then there has been the last few days. Other sightings included American Golden-Plover, Brown Creeper, both nuthatches, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, Fox and White-crowned Sparrows, Red Crossbill, Purple Finch, and Pine Siskin

Chris Neri

Monday, October 26, 2009

Long-eared Owl

Highlights: Long-eared Owl, Gray Catbird

There was no major change in the birding activity on Saturday or Sunday. While Tim and Britta have banded one Long-eared Owl this season one found yesterday was the 1st to found during the day this season . Snow Bunting and Tree Sparrow numbers continue to increase. A Gray Catbird continues in the area behind the feeders. The Northern Shrike we color banded last week has moved on, but another one made an appearance yesterday. Northern Goshawks continue to make daily appearances and there was a small push of Rough-legged Hawks yesterday. Other birds seen over the weekend included Wilson's Snipe, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cedar Waxwing, White-crowned Sparrow, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and Evening Grosbeak.

Northern Goshawk
Chris Neri

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ruffed Grouse
Highlights: Northern Parula, Gray Catbird

We get the occasional straggling warbler this time of year and a Northern Parula seen today was a pleasant surprise. The only other warbler species seen today was Yellow-rumped, which is obviously much more expected at this date. At least two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continued. It just seems wrong to see these guys this late in the year, but they have also been present late into the last two falls. While the Pine Siskins have disappeared the numbers of American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Snow Bunting have been on the rise. Other sightings toady included Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Gray Catbird, Fox Sparrow, Purple Finch, and Evening Grosbeak.

Gray Catbird

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Chris Neri

I covered the waterbird count for Tom today, but there were some decent sightings yesterday and today. We've been curious as to how long individual Northern Shrikes stage here so we color banded one yesterday. The photos above show it in hand on Wednesday and on one of the Sharpy sticks today. You can see the standard alluminum band and the red color band on it's right leg in the lower photo. If you come to the Point and see a shrike look for bands and please let us know if you see any. The season's first Red-bellied Woodpecker also made an appearance on the Sharpy stick today. Other recent sightings include Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Brown Creeper, both kinglets, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, Savannah, American Tree, Fox, and White-Crowned Sparrows, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, and White-winged Crossbill.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Chris Neri

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dickcissel photo by Kirk Zufelt
Highlights: Dickcissel

A Dickcissel was present around the feeders today along with 3 House Sparrows, which are actually uncommon here. There was also a significant increase in the numbers of Pine Siskin and Purple Finch around the feeders today. There were again good numbers of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers present. Other sightings included Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Evening Grosbeak.

Northern Goshawk

Chris Neri

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Evening Grosbeak

Highlights: Bohemian Waxwing

The woods were fairly active early this morning, but strong southwest winds picked up and activity dropped off significantly later in the morning. We continue to see large numbers of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch and Pine Siskin numbers have continued to increase and the first Bohemian Waxwings showed up yesterday.Other sightings included Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird. Tim and Britta also banded the 2nd Boreal Owl of the season last night.

Swamp Sparrow

Chris Neri

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tufted Titmouse
Highlights: Tufted Titmouse, Northern Shrike

Despite the fact that east winds have really slowed the songbird activity down the last few days the Point's first ever Tufted Titmouse was found today. It made several appearances near the waterbird shack before disappearing during the last few hours of the count. Northern Shrikes have been making some brief appearances the last few days. While overall activity has been down, there has been large numbers of Downy Woodpeckers, decent numbers of Hairies, and a few Black-backed Woodpeckers. The trees near the waterbird shack can be crawling with woodpeckers at times and the Downies have occasionally been landing on the shack, our tripods, and our scopes (photo below). We also continue seeing White-breasted Nuthatch and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The Evening Grosbeak numbers continue to grow slightly and they are being seen at the feeders fairly regularly.

The Merlin has regularly been observed catching the Downies. It's hard to see in the photo but a Downy is tucked onto the left side of the driftwood in the above photo. The Merlin had been chasing it along the bayshore, but it made it to the safety of the driftwood where it remained for about 1/2 hour after the Merlin left.

Perhaps most entertaining was Tom repeatedly holding up a stick when a wave of Downies and Hairies flew out towards us in hopes of having one land on it. No takers yet, but there's always tomorrow buddy.

Chris Neri

Monday, October 12, 2009

7 Black-bellied Plovers,
American Golden-Plover (top center) &
Long-billed Dowitcher (middle bird)
Long-billed Dowitcher
Highlights: Long-billed Dowitcher, Gray Catbird
Once again the highlight came out at the tip when a Long-billed Dowitcher made multiple passes of the tip with a group of plovers. We were extremely surprised that despite a bunch of very low passes they didn't put down in the large pool of water currently flooding the tip, but were extremely thankful that the bird called on one of the passes. This is just the 2nd fall record and 4th overall for WPBO.
Activity in the woods remained very similar to that of the last couple days. The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Gray Catbird and Magnolia Warbler were present again today. Other sightings included Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, American Tree, Savannah, Swamp, Lincoln's, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Lapland Longspur, Rusty Blackbird, Red Crossbill, and Pine Siskin.

Hermit Thrush

Chris Neri

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Point in the 1st snow of the fall

Close up of the top photo showing birders
at the waterbird shack

Highlights: Short-eared Owl, Snow Bunting

We had the first snow of the season overnight. There wasn't much accumulation, maybe 2 inches, but it looked beautiful with the dark skies and changing leaves.Tom had two Short-eared Owls come in off the lake and the first Snow Bunting of the season out at the waterbird count today. There was not much change in the woods today with sightings including Ruffed Grouse, Downy Woodpecker, Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Palm Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, and Purple Finch.

Palm Warbler

Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Chris Neri

Saturday, October 10, 2009

American Tree Sparrow
Highlights: Magnolia Warbler, Wilson's Snipe, Red Crossbill

It's been a couple days since I was able to give the woods coverage in the morning. As is to be expected we continue to see a transition to some of the mid to late season migrants. The first American Tree Sparrows of the season have arrived and Rusty Blackbirds (photo to left) have been present the last few days. Evening Grosbeaks have been coming into the feeders and Red Crossbills have been observed as flyovers the last couple days. There has also been good numbers of Downy Woodpeckers and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Dark-eyed Junco numbers have begun to increase. Ruffed Grouse sighting have also increased at the Point and in the surrounding area. There is still at least one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher hanging around and a Magnolia Warbler was a bit of a surprise today. Other sightings today included Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wren, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, Clay-colored, Savannah, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Lapland Longspur and Pine Siskin.

Magnolia Warbler
Chris Neri

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Highlights: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Red Phalarope, and Boreal, Short-eared & Northern Hawk Owl

It was just one of those days when the Point was buzzing with excitement. It started off with a Short-eared Owl flying in off the lake. As we were watching the owl come in a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew towards the lake from behind us and eventually ended up on one of the Sharpie sticks. We then saw what we are all but absolutely certain was a Boreal Owl come down the lakeshore and cross the lake. This is the first time I have ever seen a Saw-whet or Boreal Owl in flight during the day. Not long after this sighting a Boreal was found roosting and being mobbed by a Gnatcatcher and Chickadees. After the count we got a call at the house that a Short-eared was sitting on the tip. As we were walking out to the tip a call came over the radio that a Northern Hawk Owl was on the Merlin Pole. After the Hawk Owl headed out over the lake we went to the tip to look for the Short-eared and a Red Phalarope flew down the lakeshore and landed on the water off the tip. Just a sick day at the Point. We'd like to thank Leonard & Barb Graf, Ken Mettie Jr., Lucas Foerster, Skye Haas, Ryne Rutherford, Darleen Friedman, Jeff McCoy, Tex Wells, Lyle Hamilton, Sean Bachman, and about 30 others folks for their contributions in making this an extremely enjoyable day at the Point.

Other recent sightings include Ruffed Grouse, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Pine, Palm, and Black-and-White Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco, Lincoln's, Swamp, White-throated, and White-crowned Sparrows, Rusty Blackbird, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and Evening Grosbeak.

Northern Hawk Owl

Red Phalarope

Merlin with Downy Woodpecker

Chris Neri

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Highlights: Northern Saw-whet Owl (above photo)
I was back in Philly for a while to attend my niece's wedding which is the reason this blog hasn't been updated recently. Tom & I want to thank all who responded to us privately about the jaeger identification from the last post. While this record has to be reviewed by the Michigan Rare Bird Records Committee to be official, we received very helpful tips and the consensus is that it is a Long-tailed Jaeger. The weather has been a bit nuts the last few days and activity in the woods has slowed a bit, but there has been some activity. Recent sightings include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned & Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Pine, Nashville, & Palm Warblers, Savannah, Lincoln's, Swamp, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Rusty & Brewer's Blackbirds, Purple Finch, and Pine Siskin. While over 800 Saw-whets have been banded here this year, the one found roosting in the woods today was the first one to be found this year. This fact really demonstrates the importance of the information gathered by the owl banding in regard to our understanding of the major role that Whitefish Point plays in the migration of Michigan's smallest owl.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

The temperature has dropped significantly over the last few days. When we get quick drops in the air temperature in the fall the warm water temperature creates some major heat distortion. This in turn creates some bizarre optical illusions out over the lake. The above photo is of a freighter which at a distance appeared to be two vessels. The heat distortion unfortunately also wreaks havoc on our ability to identify distant birds out over the lake, increasing the frequency of statements such as, "well it's definitely a bird".

Chris Neri