Rocky Ridge proved to be both beautiful & rugged.
The massive raptor migration through the Keweenaw, which clearly is most prominent at Brockway Mountain, is well known. What is hardly known at all is just where the raptors we see at Brockway are actually going. Brockway’s eastbound numbers are always much, much greater than the westbound numbers. Extensive observations at Manitou Island off the tip of the Keweenaw pretty clearly show that no large numbers of raptors cross Lake Superior there. So many of us Keweenaw people have come to the conclusion that the Brockway / Keweenaw raptors probably eventually move southwest toward Duluth and thus around the Big Lake. But just what are the patterns of raptor movement through the tip of the Keweenaw? Where are all those westbound birds that Brockway just doesn’t get? The Raptor Net idea was supposed to help answer those questions. At least twice in the past decades small groups of Keweenaw hawk and bird watchers arranged for a day or two of coordinated counts at various sites in the Keweenaw. This year we actually achieved six days of counts (28 April through 3 May) at three different sites. Of course the main site was Brockway and we also had observers on Rocky Ridge and also at Bete Grise beach. Each site was supposed to visually cover about one third of the Keweenaw. Brockway covers the north third, Rocky Ridge covered the middle third and Bete Grise covered the south. So we believed that most raptors moving east or west through the Keweenaw could be recorded by one of our sites. In addition to those mainland sites we had an observer out at Manitou Island for a full twelve days. Manitou is a major complicating factor in any study of Keweenaw raptor movement. Its pretty straight forward to count raptors, eastbound and westbound, at Manitou’s western tip. But the problem is that Manitou is almost like a storage battery for raptors. You don’t really know how many raptors are “on” the island. You can count birds coming from and returning to the mainland Keweenaw but you never really know how many raptors are just “on” Manitou. From our observations there we know that some days the number “on” Manitou is well over 1,000 and its possible the hundreds of raptors hang out at Manitou for several days. So Manitou really complicates any analysis of movement of Keweenaw raptors.
So how did we do? Did we find the missing westbound birds? We tried hard but we really didn’t find those westbound birds. The Bete Grise site did have more westbound than eastbound birds, as expected, but the numbers didn’t account for the large numbers of eastbound birds seen at Brockway. It seems likely that our six days just wasn’t long enough. We had reports of many hundreds of birds moving west at Bete Grise several days after our count period ended. Were those birds stored up over at Manitou for a few days and returned west after our count?
Here are the totals for the six day period:
Eastbound Westbound Total
Rocky Ridge 412 365 777
Bete Grise 63 254 317
Brockway 2056 618 2674
Manitou 595 755 1350
I’d like to thank our volunteer observers : Mike Swaney, Wendy Sharp, Bill and Nancy Leonard, Bill Deephouse, Tom Rozich, Ruth Gleckler, Lynn Murphy, Catherine Andrews, Keren Tischler, Curt Webb, Phil Quenzi, Marj and Ray Krumm, Nancy Auer, Quentin and Emily(?) Sprenglemeyer and Arthur Green
P.S. - Manitou Island does have its data posted on HawkCount. But I have been lagging in my work and have yet to post the thousands of westbound raptors at Manitou from this spring. I’ll get to it soon. We had 2155 eastbound raptors and 3087 westbound at Manitou from 28 April through 9 May.
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There was just a spectacular hawk flight on May 5th at Brockway Mountain. We tallied in 2528 east-bound raptors, as well as 123 Common Loons. 15 Bohemian Waxwings were nice to see and getting a touch on the late side for them to still be around.
Raptor-wise the highlights were 2 SWAINSON’S HAWKS (1 light morph and 1 dark morph), 3 dark-morph “western” Red-tails and the season’s 2nd(!) near full albino Red-tail. Of course the 1600+ Broad-winged Hawks were pretty awesome too.
dark morph Swainson's Hawk
The numbers from the day-
Turkey Vulture- 79
Bald Eagle- 27
Northern Harrier- 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk- 614
Broad-winged Hawk- 1643
SWAINSON’S HAWK- 2 (1 light juvie, 1 dark adult)
Red-tailed Hawk- 108 (including 3 dark morphs, and 1 near complete albino bird)
Rough-legged Hawk- 16
Golden Eagle- 1
American Kestrel- 27
Peregrine Falcon- 2
partial albino Red-tailed Hawk
a dark morph "Western" Red-tailed Hawk
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Very exciting yesterday (25 April) was the passage of a Black Vulture past Brockway. A rare visitor to the Upper Peninsula there have been only 8 documented records A Black Vulture was reported at Brockway in 1991, but no documentation has been submitted to the Michigan Bird Records Committee for review. A crew of merry birders arriving to Manitou observed a Black Vulture in July 2002, and the bird (presumed same individual) was seen two weeks later in Copper Harbor. Surprisingly, 3 other records of Black Vulture have occurred in the Keweenaw Peninsula, a September bird in 1999 in Agate Harbor (in view of West Bluff!) and two winter records from Houghton County.
Here is Arthur’s post to the UP listserv about yesterday’s sighting.
Today from atop Brockway, under partial cloud cover with NW winds
“gusting” to ~8 mph, I observed a Black Vulture working its way north
over Rocky Ridge and then proceed east towards Copper Harbor at
exactly 13:15 EST today. My hope is that I’ll catch it on the
westbound flight tomorrow!
Other birds seen yesterday included
30 Turkey Vultures, 1 Osprey, 10 Bald Eagles, 6 Northern Harriers, 45 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 3 Northern Goshawks, 16 Red-tailed Hawks, a non-eastbound Golden Eagle; as well as 25 Common Loons, 4,746 Canada Geese, 44 Sandhill Cranes, and 5 Bohemian Waxwings.
Hope to see you on the Mountain!
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Temperatures these past few days have been creeping upward, and not only have I been dispensing with hat and gloves, but I now rarely finish my thermos of hot tea before the day’s count is over. And while the remaining snow on Brockway Mountain Drive’s east end is surely frozen in the morning, come afternoon that snow is pure slush, making navigation by ATV slightly treacherous.
Birdwise, we’re still slogging through a stretch of slow days. But diversity is increasing, even if numbers are not: March 26 brought us our first Rough-legged Hawk (a juvenile light morph, should you care!), March 29 a vanguard of 4 Red-tailed Hawk, and March 30 a gorgeous adult Red-shouldered Hawk.
Vic Berardi would cringe at the quality of this shot.
Other additions to the list include Red Crossbill, with Snow Bunting and small flocks of Common Redpoll now trickling though almost daily. And a Northern Shrike (left) has taken up the same spruce in easy binocular view from West Bluff on the mornings of March 29 and 30. Things can only get better from here . . .
And so the end of another winter in the UP draws neigh. I think I will miss it!
Thinking of you from atop Brockway,
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Sunshine and Smiles.
March 20 was a day of gale force south-by-southeast winds, with gusts as high as 56 mph turning garden-variety snow into stinging embers against exposed skin. No one would have blamed me if I packed up and went home, but I really wanted to know something: Would anything fly in this weather?
Yes! 11 Bald Eagle and 1 Golden Eagle were still catching ridge updrafts in winds known to capsize large sailing vessels. (And those nesting raven conveyed to every near-passing eagle the importance of staying the hell out of their airspace!) It was also amusing to watch a flock of Bohemian Waxwing periodically lift off the edge of the mountain only to drop swiftly back to earth as if drawn by a powerful magnet. So while today did not bear witness to a record flight, I am satisfied to have seen as much as I did in these conditions. Some birds, clearly, are more equal than others . . .
Standing Vigil at Brockway,
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March 15 proved to be a strong start to KRS’s 2011 count season, yielding 36 Bald Eagles and 1 Northern Goshawk in a little over six hours of observation. A female Snow Bunting also stopped by the hilltop for a breather this morning, while a displaying Common Raven near West Bluff passed the day chasing off eagles (and that goshawk!) that ventured too close for his (her?) comfort.
Keeping my tripod up in the breeze wasn't a real problem today.
Mild temperatures and brisk winds all day made me feel like a dog with his head out a moving car window. Unfortunately, our count shelter didn’t fare so well, with 35+ mph winds tearing off the rolled roofing like it were tissue paper and nearly twisting the door off the frame. Otherwise, this has been a good beginning for what will surely be a splendid count.
In case you were interested, we also update our HawkCount profile with the day’s results. Catch you soon . . .
From Brockway with Love,
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It was so great to get back up to the top of Brockway. Arthur Green, Greg Cleary & I headed up the Mountain to assemble the counter’s shack. Brockway Mt. Drive is still snowed in from the winter leaving us but one option for the day- saddle up the sleds!
Of course, many thanks must go to Ken Stegers (the proprietor of the Pines Resort) for helping house Arthur and getting snowmobiles for KRS to use. Be sure and stop in his place for some hot food when you come up for some hawk-watching later this spring!
Not to be melodramatic, but it was pretty harsh up there when we got to the West Bluff overlook. A strong northerly wind off the lake with a heavy snow was challenging to say the least, we could barely even see the bottom of the valley. Also “amusing” was the discovery that the tarp covering the shack pieces had been shredded over the winter, but thankfully the wood was not too frozen to the ground.
Thankfully nothing had warped too bad, and after a few hours of digging, hauling and assembling the shack began to take form. A gang of passing snowmobilers were drafted to help get the heavy roof up and no one got frost-bite!
Well, of course the big question, were there any birds??
No raptors were seen, but a small flock of flyover Redpolls passed by and just before we left for the day a Barred Owl hooted from the valley. South winds are forecasted for the rest of the week so hopefully this count will start with some migrants! Tune back in to get Arthur’s report from opening day (Tuesday!).
Welcome to da Yoop Arthur!
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It is an exciting time here at the Keweenaw Raptor Survey. The U.P. may be still locked in snow and ice, but the start of the spring count is fast approaching and we have been a bustling to make sure everything is ready for our sophomore year of the project.
First the big announcement- We are delighted to welcome Arthur Green to KRS as our spring counter for this year. Arthur comes way of New York State and the Chestnut Ridge Hawk Count conducted by the Bedford Audubon Society.
Arthur Green- Spring 2011 KRS Hawk Counter
There have been other personnel changes this year as well. Joe Youngman has stepped down from the management committee with Dana Richter graciously filling the vacancy. We are indebted to Joe for all his hard work over the past two years, and are very thankful that Joe will continue on as a volunteer with the project. Dana had already been extremely helpful during the creation of KRS and continues to invaluable with his assistance to the committee. Head on over to the Who We Are page for more information about Arthur, Dana and the rest of the KRS team.
I have been able to do some updating of our website with results from the spring 2010 season on the Brockway Raptors page, as well as a 2010 photo gallery on our Media page.
Finally, this project is run solely through grants and donations from people like you. If you have not contributed before, or would like to donate again to the project please click here or go to the Donate tab on your right. Thank you for all and anything you are able to contribute to KRS to ensure we are able to conduct our planned 2012 Spring Season!
Check back here soon for more updates- only 39 days to the start of the count!!!
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Golden Eagle being attacked by a Raven
The position is now closed for applicants for the spring 2011 counter. Thank you all to those who applied. We will be announcing the counter soon. Stand by for more frequent posts as we gear up for the spring season. Only 50 more days until the start of the count!
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Posted in raptor migration on November 4, 2010 |
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It has been a while since there was an update on the two tagged Golden Eagles by Dr. Mark Martell of Minnesota Audubon. Here are a series of updates about the birds. surprisingly, they are not yet in active migration despite being in northern Canada.
As summer is drawing to a close here we are starting to see hawks migrating through the state on their way south. Both of the golden eagles we are tracking are still alive and sending data from Canada although neither has begun any movement south.
Whitey – Eagle 42 is still using a pretty large area in northern Quebec between Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait. He has been here all summer. The last 2 weeks of August he spent his time in an area of about 30 sq. miles. On Sep 1 – 4 he moved about 30 miles south where he was when we received our last reading.
Fairchild – Eagle 44, after spending most of her summer using a very small area along a river near the Labrador Sea has moved about 30 miles east and is now using a few islands off the coast of Labrador. For the past few weeks she has been moving among those islands.
While the golden eagles are starting to fly in larger numbers over Hawk Ridge in Duluth, our 2 birds seem quite content in Canada. Female 44 (Fairchild) is not showing any signs of moving away from her summer area in Labrador. Male 42 (Whitey) seems to be slowly moving to the southwest away from his main summer use area but has only covered a total of 66 miles in 4 days, so if this is the start of his migration he does not seem in any hurry
Not much new to report at this point. Eagle 42 (Whitey) is moving south, although not at a very fast clip. He has covered only 147 miles since he began moving. The attached map shows his movements this fall (white diamonds), his main summer range (white bordered box), and his spring migration through the area (pink lines and triangles).
Eagle 44 (Fairchild) remains on her summer area, moving around but not away.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT VIST:
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