Saturday, October 24, 2015

Highlights: Hepatic Tanager (photo above), 
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher,
Cave Swallow
Snowy Owls

     This has been a good fall for uncommon species and vagrants at the Point, but there was no way Hepatic Tanager could have been on our radar. Michigan's first Hepatic Tanager, and one of very few records east of the Mississippi, was found on 10/20 at around noon and remained until 5:40. Unfortunately, like the Common Ground-Dove earlier this month it was also a one day wonder.

Another shot of the Hepatic Tanager

     The latest vagrants were a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that Eric Ripma had at from the waterbird count yesterday and a Cave Swallow at the harbor seen by Eric & Tim Baerwald this evening. Check the last two waterbird blog posts by Eric for a photo of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which actually had no tail, and the Cave Swallow.

    As is typical this time of year, the weather has become more unsettled recently and the general bird activity around the Point has varied significantly from day to day. The mid-season migrants are giving way to the late season migrants. Warblers are essentially done for the season, but a few late stragglers were seen this week with single American Redstart, Northern Parula,  Northern Waterthrush and Yellow-rumped Warbler observed. Sparrows have also really dropped off, but there are still a few White-crowned, American Tree and Fox Sparrows around, with American tree being the most common.The bulk of the Dark-eyed Junco has also passed through, but there are still a few double digit flocks around. Likewise, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet numbers have dropped, but there are still always a few to be found. A few Winter Wrens were still around this week and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have been seen the last few days.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

     With the mid-season migrants moving out we become hopeful for late season migrants and we are seeing some promising signs of a decent winter finch migration. Common Redpolls have been occurring in good numbers with hundreds migrating through on 10/23. We continue to have small numbers of Red Crossbills flying over and White-winged Crossbills  have made a few more appearances recently. Evening Grosbeaks have picked up slightly with small flocks becoming a bit more regular and Eric saw the season's first Pine Grosbeak on 10/23. Bohemian Waxwings continue to be very sporadic, but hopefully they will pick up.

The majority of the finches have been flyovers.
Pine Siskin (left) & Common Redpoll (right)

American Robin

Shorebirds are at the end of their migration, but here are an 
American Golden-Plover (front left) and Black-bellied Plover.

 Surprisingly, for the third year in a row Snowy Owls
seem to have started another big movement
 into the region again this year.

A Puffin going by the Point

Chris Neri

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Highlights: Common Ground-Dove (photo above) & Western Kingbird

     Although we have experienced some slow days this month, we have also had some good flights and some good birds. A Common Ground-Dove, the third Point record, appears to have been a one day wonder on the 11th. Also seen  on the 11th were the season's 4th Western Kingbird  and 1st Short-eared Owl. Other recent notable sightings include Le Conte's Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow and Dickcissel.
      At this time of the season we naturally start looking forward to some of the northern finches to begin showing up. The first Common Redpolls of the season were seen on the 11th. Pine Siskins have been present for a couple of weeks, but we saw the first real push on the 12th when over 2,000 were counted. Purple Finch  numbers have also picked up over the last few days and they have become regular at the feeders. I think it has been mentioned in every post that we have been hearing Red Crossbills flying over on a nearly daily basis. We finally had a couple very cooperative Crossbills feeding in a Jack Pine very close to the waterbird shack over the weekend. Hopefully more winter finches will begin to show up soon.

Part of one of Monday's Pine Siskin flocks

Red Crossbill

      We continue to see good numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated & White-crowned Sparrows and American Tree Sparrow numbers are increasing . There are also usually a few Lincoln's, Swamp, Song and Savannah Sparrows around and Fox Sparrows have joined the regulars at the feeders. There are often nice flocks of Golden-crowned & Ruby-crowned Kinglets around. Brown Creepers and Winter Wren have also been present in decent numbers, including 15 Winter Wrens today. Warbler numbers and diversity continue to decrease, but  Orange-crownedYellow-rumped, Palm continue to be seen daily and Nashville, and Black-throated Green have made recent appearances. 

Winter Wren

    Other recent sightings around the Point include; Ruffed Grouse, Barn Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, American Pipit, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur & Vesper Sparrow.

American Pipit with a meal

Horned Lark

   As always, a lot of the activity is out at the waterbird count and Eric Ripma continues to produce some of the season's best sightings. Recent highlights at the waterbird count include Pacific Loon, Pomarine Jaeger & Arctic Tern. Most of the shorebirds have already moved through, but American Golden-Plover, Killdeer, Dunlin and White-rumped Sandpipers have been seen recently. Check out Eric's waterbird blog posts for more details

American Golden-Plover

White-rumped Sandpiper

Chris Neri

Monday, October 5, 2015

Highlights: Townsend's Solitaire (photo above) & Harris's Sparrow

      As is to be expected, sparrows have provided much of the activity in the woods recently. White-crowned & White-throated Sparrows along with Dark-eyed Juncos have been occurring in good numbers. There are often 40 White-crowneds at the feeders and yesterday they were finally joined by the Harris's Sparrow that has been present since the 1st. The season's second Le Conte's Sparrow was seen on 9/30 and the first American Tree Sparrows have arrived.  Additionally, Chipping, Savannah, Fox, Song, Lincoln's and Swamp have been present.

Le Conte's Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

     Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers continue in decent numbers. Orange-crowned Warblers have picked up and it is not uncommon to see several mixed in with various flocks, including sparrow flocks. It continues to become less common to find other warbler species, but Tennessee, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll and Common Yellowthroat have made recent appearances.  Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets continue to regularly mix in with the warbler flocks. 
Orange-crowned Warbler

      We had a nice push of Hermit Thrushes last week when we were consistently coming across groups of 3-6 as we walked the woods, and there are still the occasional Swainson's and Gray-cheeked being seen. We continue hearing Red Crossbills on an almost daily basis. They are mostly just flyovers, but they are occasionally putting down in the Jack Pines. Pine Siskins are picking up and are regularly being found feeding on birch catkins, Purple Finch numbers have also begun to increase over the last couple of days. There continues to be a nice mixed flock of Horned Larks, American Pipits and Lapland Longspurs frequenting the beach. Other recent sightings include; Northern Goshawk, Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren and Gray Catbird. 

Bald Eagle

Hermit Thrush

Eastern Chipmunk

Chris Neri