Friday, January 16, 2009

Manistee Christmas Bird Count Results 2008

The 2008 Manistee Christmas Bird Count
By Tim Granger

This was a great count under the circumstances. The circumstances were bad. The weeks prior to the count were amount the worst on record for snow. The weather conditions on and around count day caused the worst road conditions our counters have ever faced. My vehicle got stuck in the snow several times. Other observers were stuck as well.

We located ducks, geese and swans in most areas that had some open water. Out teams around Portage Lake and North Manistee found most of them. Their totals included 1 Canvasback, 4 Redheads, and 1 Ring-necked Duck. Our Lake Michigan duck numbers were good. 5610Long-tailed Ducks, 189 Buffleheads and 4792 Common Goldeneyes were spotted.

We did better on raptors than would be expected, thanks to our sharp eyed observers seeing 11 Bald Eagles. As the weather forced songbirds into feeder areas Sharp-shinned Hawks followed them with 3 being tallied by feeder watchers. Our field teams spotted another 2 for a total of 5 and 2 Cooper's Hawks were also found. Brian Allen found a Red-shouldered Hawk, an unusual find for a severe winter hunting in the Bar Lake Rd. area. Other field teams found 3 Red-tailed Hawks and most of the Rough-legged Hawks were found in the Chief Lake area by Jerry and Sherry Freels, former Onekama residents that came down from Traverse City to help on the count.

Not many gulls were located and most of those were the expected Herring and Ring-billed Gulls many of which were seen by Doug Cook and Barry Barto in the Onekama area. Two teams were fortunate to see a Glaucous Gull in Manistee.

Our feeder watchers did well for our count this year. Despite bad weather and little bird activity on cound day possibly due to the rain, they still recorded 21 species. Their individual totals greatly increased the counts overall numbers. Feeder watchers logged 69% of our American goldfinches, 70% of our Red-bellied Woodpeckers and 95% of our Pine Siskins.

Our field teams worked very hard in the rain, drizzle, slush and deep snow. Some areas that were easy to drive and cover in a short time in previous years required a long slog through slush or snowshoeing in deep snow just to get there. We recorded all the expected species of woodpeckers, including 4 Pileateds. Brian Allen also found a Northern Flicker, a Hermit Thrush and the lone Robin. Carl Freeman was the thrush champion finding a remarkable 22 Eastern Bluebirds. In the south Manistee area Dave Dister and I found a Song Sparrow and a Northern Shrike. The Freels also found a good variety of songbirds in the Chief Lake area. Don Stroup and Kurt Shindler had little free time to cover their area due to the Sunday schedule but were still able to compile a good list in a few hours. Don Kogut had perhaps the most challenging area to cover but still picked up a load of good birds despite the icy driving.

We unfortunately missed some birds we expected this year. This was THE year of the White-winged Crossbill and they were seen in good numbers both before and after the count day in Manistee County and on counts in Benzie and Mason County as well as flocks of Redpolls. Either we missed them due to the rain and lack of movement that day or we weren't fortunate to come across them as we struggled to get cars unstuck during the count.

We are Thankful to everyone who worked to make this count a success. Everyone did an excellent job. Thanks go out to all participants; be they feeder watchers or field teams. Credit is due to Brian Allen for the overall leadership of the field effort and Don Kogut for organizing the very successful feeder count.

On behalf of our club I want to wish all of you a Happy 2009 and I hope you can join us December 19, 2009 for the next Manistee Christmas Bird Count.

posted 1/16/09 BA

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Northern Flicker

Happy New Year, Manistee! These birds live in Michigan year round but we don't see them at Lake Bluff often. Today this female was here feasting on Don Kogut's hi-calorie special recipe mix that we pack into the log. Ants make up 40-50% of their diet so they are often seen feeding on the ground in summer. Their numbers are reportedly in decline. These birds are large: bigger than jays or hairy woodpeckers but smaller than pileateds. Flickers have very interesting markings: dots on a whitish belly and bars over a gray-brown back, a patch of black on the throat and one of red on the head. Learn more at this link to the Cornell Ornithological Lab
-Rich Krieger, Lake Bluff