The migration during this period picked up with the arrival of diving ducks driving the bulk of the increase.
Loons & Grebes: One Red-necked Grebe on the 12th was followed by a flock of five on the 13th. Two Pacific Loons on the 1st were the first of the season and a county high count.
Ducks: 604 Blue-winged Teal on the 7th was the only flight during this period and presumably represents the last big push of Blue-wings for the fall.
On schedule were the first Surf Scoters of the fall which arrived on the 5th. Surprising was a 115 Surf Scoters on the 9th (this is nearly half the season totals for 2013 and '14!) which was followed by 191 on the 13th! This is the second highest day count on record for the county and just below the 212 recorded on Oct. 7, 2012 during the first Tiscornia Waterbird Count. White-winged and Black Scoter arrived on the 13th, which is on par with expected arrival dates. What was surprising was the White-winged Scoter count of 56 from the 13th, White-winged Scoters have never been recorded in numbers this high this early in the fall.
Six Ruddy Ducks on the 6th and 12 Bufflehead on the 13th were firsts for the fall.
Shorebirds: Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, and Sanderling continued, along with the first Dunlin of the fall on the 14th.
Gull Types: One Parasitic Jaeger on the 4th was the only jaeger for this period.
Bonaparte's Gulls numbers increased during this period with a high of 107 on the 13th. Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were the only other gulls of note during this period.
Common and Forster's Terns were present through the period in expected numbers. A juvenile Arctic Tern on the 5th was at the late end of the expected window (Sept. 29-Oct 6) for this rare but expected migrant.
Non-waterbird highlights include a Whip-poor-will on the 9th (which flew down the pier and briefly landed as I was walking out to start the count. Second Tiscornia record), Cerulean Warbler on the 6th (first Tiscornia record, likely the bird of the fall), Nelson's Sparrow on the 3rd (chased down and eaten by a Ring-billed Gull as it came in off the lake), Vesper Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird.
Also of interest was a Spiny Soft-shell Turtle (first Tiscornia record) that was dropped on the pier by a Ring-billed Gull (after I tossed it bread).
The last half felt exceedingly slow, but looking at the data the total for the month (~8,500) is on par with the past three years of the count.
Despite the perceived slowness there were a few interesting sightings.
A Great Egret on the 22nd represented a new late date for the count. Great Blue Herons were seen through the end of the month.
DC Cormorants had a season high count of 510 on the 29th (fun fact, the overall total count for the day was 546 birds...diversity!)
Geese numbers increased during this period and along with the Canada's came the first Snow Goose (white) of the season on the 14th with two more passing by on the 26th.
Blue-winged Teal numbers were above average with 2,046 for the period and a high count of 740 on the 12th.
Along with increasing dabbler numbers the first Redhead, Scaup, and Red-breasted Merganser of the fall arrived during this period.
Shorebird numbers are waning, however two Whimbrel on the 13th were the first (and probably last) of the season. The last Semipalmated Plover of the season occurred on the 26th, while the first Am. Golden Plover of the season arrived on the 22th. Presumably the last Semipalmated Sandpiper was on the 15th with the last Baird's Sandpiper on the 26th .
Three Parasitic Jaegers during this period is on par with past years. New for the season was a young Pomarine Jaeger on the 17th. For the season jaeger numbers are well below expectations and are nearly half the average total for this point in the season.
Three young Sabine's Gulls on the 13th represented both the first of the season and a new county high count! Both Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen through the end of the month.
Six Black Terns on the 15th were presumably the last of the season and on par with average last recorded dates. Forster's Tern had a high count of 10 on 28th and Common Tern had a high for this period of 179 on the 26th. Caspian Terns were recorded in average numbers through the end of the month.
Non-waterbird highlights include 100+ Swainson's Thrushes on the 18th (several eaten by gulls), Winter, Sedge, and Marsh Wrens, Nelson's Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, and Rusty Blackbird.
The migration during this period was one of the slowest on record with just under 3,000 migrant waterbirds recorded. This is nearly a thousand less than expected for this period and would be even lower if it wasn't for a teal and tern flight on the 8th.
Horned Grebe: One on the 5th was on schedule with the expected arrival dates.
Ducks: 1,266 Blue-winged Teal on the 8th was impressive considering no other day in this period broke 100. mixed in with the BW Teal were Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, and American Wigeon.
Magnificent Frigatebird: A single adult female going down the shoreline into south winds on the 6th. Fourth Tiscornia record and third in September, all since 2008.
Shorebirds: Decent diversity but low numbers. Four Black-bellied Plovers is on par with past years for this period. Two Willets on the 5th were the only large shorebirds of the period. One Buff-breasted, 3 Baird’s, and 7 Pectoral Sandpipers were recorded during this period along with a White-rumped Sandpiper on the 7th which is the first fall record since 2011.
Gull Types: Jaegers are well below previous years with only two Parasitic Jaegers recorded during this period. For comparisons 2012-14 averaged 11 for this period.
Two Great Blacked-backed Gulls were recorded this period, well ahead of the previous early arrival date of September 20. The first Little Gull of the season was recorded on the 9th, with the second of the season coming on the 11th. Both of which were juveniles.
Common Terns continue to move through in below average numbers with the 622 recorded during this period well below the previous low of 1,036. The peak count during this period was 213 on the 8th. A flock of five Black Terns on the 6th was the only sighting for this period and likely represent the last sighting of the season.
New additions to the non-waterbird list include Merlin, Common Nighthawk, Swainson's Thrush (the gulls seem to have an easy time catching them), Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Yellow-rumped, Palm, Wilson's, and Pine Warbler (only the second I've ever had at Tiscornia!), and Savannah Sparrow.
Also notable was a Map Turtle that swam past the north pier on the 2nd.
The count begins! Migration has been relatively slow, possibly due to weather conditions (south winds and thunderstorms have dominated this period, but then again a cold front went through on the 31st and failed to produce any sort of a migration) or the warm temperatures further north have encouraged migrants to linger a bit longer before moving south.
Blue-winged Teal: 533 on the 25th was impressive considering no other day in this period broke 100.
Great Egret: Nine were recorded during this period including a flock of 6 on the 24th.
Shorebirds: 14 species have been recorded thus far including a single adult Black-bellied Plover on the 24-25, and three Piping Plovers on the 20th. Surprisingly the Piping Plovers were not from the Great Lakes population but from the Dakotas!
Uncommon at this time of year were eleven American Avocets and 14 Willets (getting late) that flew by over the course of the day on the 25th. Five Buff-breasted Sandpipers and 10 Baird’s Sandpipers were recorded during this period.
Gull Types: Jaegers are just starting to move with two Parasitic and a Jaeger sp. on the 28th, the only day with any jaegers thus far this season.
Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the 21st were dramatically early.
Common Terns have been moving through in below average numbers with the 485 recorded during this period well below the three year average (for this period) of 1,796. As expected Black Tern numbers peaked in the first couple days of the count with high counts of 87 and 77 which is on par with past seasons. 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, five Bald Eagles, two Peregrine Falcons (one adult, one banded juvenile), 4 Purple Martins, and single Cape May and Mourning Warblers.