When I arrive at the point predawn every morning and start my walk out to the point, sometimes I'll hear chip notes and see things flitting here and there. And then there was today.
We had clear skies and west winds overnight and because many songbirds migrate high overhead in the middle of the night, morning can be an interesting time (they drop from the sky to find somewhere to refuel during the day). However, sometimes they find themselves out over big bodies of water (like Lake Superior). A little Brown Creeper or Winter Wren flying out over the tumultuous Lake Superior? That won't do! And so they head for the nearest land they can get to and hopefully a safe bramble or thicket awaits them. Today, that happened to be Whitefish Point for a lot of birds. As I walked out to the point, I was kicking up dozens and dozens of sparrows from every part of my walk; they littered the trail. I knew then that this morning would be interesting.
It wasn't any less impressive out at the waterbird shack; sparrows, kinglets, warblers, and wrens were all flowing in off the lake, sometimes dozens at a time. There must have been 300+ birds that flew in during the first few hours. This also meant that the PEREGRINE FALCON was having a feast; I watched it nab at least three birds in the first half hour. Some birds, in desperation to get away from the falcon, would zip right INTO the waterbird shack. Panting, they'd sit on the floor, the chair, or my datasheet and wait until they were ready to head back out. This didn't happen once or twice either; I think I ended up with 4 birds in the shack today.
However, my obligation is to count waterbirds so I set up shop at the shack and got ready for my 8-hour vigil. I can't really complain about the flight today although it really trailed off late in the day. The most numerous species was again AMERICAN WIGEON (248) and other dabblers included MALLARD (2), BLUE-WINGED TEAL (1), NORTHERN PINTAIL (8), and GREEN-WINGED TEAL (2).
It was another solid day for REDHEAD (136) but most of the other aythya ducks were pretty distant. We had 5 SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS as well as 27 COMMON and 5 RED-THROATED LOONS. The west winds helped RED-NECKED GREBES and I ended the day with 224.
The usual shorebirds were around yet again; SANDERLING (6), BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (1), and PECTORAL SANDPIPER (1). The latter two were foraging together on the beach which made for great comparisons.
Perhaps the most notable waterbird today was a lone FORSTER'S TERN. I took a picture of the bird and if you know how far the shack is from the water, you'll understand why this is such a crummy photo!
After the waterbird count ended, I spent most of the afternoon working the woods. Although I didn't turn up anything too crazy, there were still a LOT of birds including HERMIT THRUSHES (10+), HOUSE WREN (1), WINTER WREN (8), and BOHEMIAN WAXWING (1). This RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET would probably get offended if I didn't mention the kinglets as well:
We're supposed to have a chance of rain tomorrow (and probably cloudy skies) but the better chance of rain comes on Friday/Saturday.
I'll leave you guys with a quiz bird tonight. I'll post the answer to it on the blog tomorrow. Good luck!