The fifth season of the Tiscornia Waterbird Count began on August 20 and will run through November 30. The count is conducted daily at Tiscornia Park, St. Joe starting at sunrise and running for eight hours each day. This report details observation from the period of August 20-31, subsequent reports will be posted on a semi weekly basis.
The migration has been good with a early teal flight and good diversity of shorebirds.
Blue-winged Teal: 845 on the 22nd with a total of 1,560 for the period makes this the second highest August total in the history of the count.
As expected Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Northern Pintal, and Northern Shoveler have also been recorded in lesser numbers.
A juvenile American White Pelican anded on the beach on the 27, the first since 2014 and one of the earlier records for the fall.
Shorebirds: 17 species have been recorded thus far including three Black-bellied Plovers, 1 Am. Avocet, 8 Willet, 1 Whimbrel, 21 Hudsonian Godwits, 3 White-rumped Sandpiper, 4 Baird's Sandpiper, 1 Stilit Sandpiper, and 1 Red Knot.
Gull Types: Jaegers have had a good early flight with eight recorded thus far including two Parasitic on the 23rd, and a Long-tailed on the 29th.
Bonaparte's Gulls have been moving through in light numbers while a juvenile Sabine's Gull gave good looks as it flew south on the 29th.
Common Terns have been moving through in slightly below average numbers with the 805 recorded during this period.
As expected Black Tern numbers peaked in the first couple days of the count with a high count of 43 on the 29th. Black Terns are an early migrant, and away from the breeding grounds are a pelagic species and on Lake Michigan generally stay well offshore during the fall which negatively effects counting them from shore.
Non-waterbirds included Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, 2 Purple Martins, Olive-sided Flycatcher.
The count has started and we are excited to share the news that we are using trektellen software for data entry.
What that means for you is that by visiting:
you will be able to see daily updates from the count!
We will still be posting updates and photos here, but for those desperate to know whats happening on a daily basis trektellen has you covered.
Mild temperatures kept things slow for most of the month with no large flights after the 8th. Despite that there were several highlights for the rest of the month including 89 Snow Geese, 6 Ross's Geese, 4 Harlequin Ducks, King Eider (second Tiscornia record), 22 Franklin's Gulls, Little Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Snowy Owl!
All told the season total for 2016 was 56,861. Well below the previous low of 62,627 set in 2013. Noticeable this season was the lack of RB Merganser (5,000 less then the previous low), BW Teal (2000 below the previous low), Common Tern (1,400 below the previous low), Green-winged Teal (3,640 is a new season high count), Bonaparte's Gull (4,502 is a new season high count), and Ruddy Duck (279 is a new season high count).
What a day! The 8th had a record flight with 13,841 waterbirds migrating past Tiscornia!
Highlights include 641 Gadwall (new day high count), 1,209 Mallards (easily sets a new day high count and even more impressive considering the season average is 1,738), 8,080 Scaup (3,910 in the 4th hour! The second biggest flight on record), 290 Ring-necked Ducks (this alone is a new season high count, and easily smashes the previous day high count of 50 set back on Oct. 26, 2014), all three Scoter species (including the first adult male Black Scoters of the fall), 688 Bufflehead (this sets a new day high easily beating the 430 set back on Nov. 12, 2012), 1 Harlequin Duck (a female type that swam past the end of the pier and flew north, it made an appearance later in the day and was last seen flying south), 32 Hooded Merganser, 3 Pied-billed Grebes (strange to see them in 5ft waves), 1,340 Bonaparte's Gulls (all in the last three hours of the count, new day high for the count), 1 Common and 1 Forster's Tern (getting late).
It was an exhausting day that won't soon be forgotten!
Other recent highlights include 2,009 Scaup on the 5th, a close female Long-tailed Duck and a flyby Harlequin Duck on the 6th, one American Woodcock on the 3rd and two on the 4th, two Greater Yellowlegs on the 1st and one on the 2nd, 120 American Coots on the 2nd and 105 on the 3rd, Parastic Jaegers on the 3rd and 6th, Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gull, and Little Gull on the 5th, and Black-legged Kittiwake on the 6th.
Non-waterbird highlights include a Northern Goshawk on the 7th and Short-eared Owl on the 4th.
The migration during this period was steady, but slightly below the three-year average.
Loons & Grebes: Pied-billed, Horned, and Red-necked Grebes were seen in average numbers though this period. Red-necked had a high of 4 on the 20th. Common Loon had season high of 70 on the 20th. Red-throated Loons are trickling in and being seen most days (albeit distantly).
Geese & Ducks: Greater White-fronted Geese had a record flight into the state during this period with flocks in the hundreds reported across the lower peninsula. Tiscornia got its share of the flight with 489 between the 16-18th including a high count of 361 on the 17th! These are the first GWFG for Tiscornia since 1998 and easily set a new high count for the county (I believe the previous high count was 37 set back in 2006).
The first good numbers of Scaup pushed through during this period with over 6,000 counted and a high count of 1,791 on the 16th.
All three scoters species were recorded during this period, although as expected Surf Scoter numbers have declined from the first half of the month.
The first Common Goldeneye of the season were recorded on the 31st,
Forty-nine Ruddy Ducks on the 17th represented a new high count for the waterbird count.
Herons: A Green Heron on the 19th was rather late.
Shorebirds: Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, and Dunlin continued to trickle through in low numbers. New for the fall was an American Woodcock on the 21st.
Gull Types: Three Parasitic Jaegers (including the first adult of the fall) were recorded during this period which is slightly below average for the end of October.
Five Little Gulls (all adult types) were recorded between the 21-28th, including two on the 26th. This is a surprising push considering the low numbers so far this fall and that the average for this period is two.
Bonaparte's Gull had a nice push during this period with over a fourteen hundred counted, including a high of 668 on the 28th. Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were the only other gulls of note during this period.
Non-waterbird highlights were few, but notable was presumably the first record of Eastern Screech Owl for Tiscornia on the 19th, Snow Buntings on the 24, and a Eastern Meadowlark on the 19th.