Saturday, March 29, 2008

WPBO - Golden Eagles+ !

As the title suggests, there were Golden Eagles involved in today's birding, but more on that later. Kirk Zufelt, Stan Phippen, and I left around 8 (a late start by our standards) to head over to Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO). We first stopped at Forrest Rd. off the M-28 to look for the Sharp-tailed Grouse on their lek, and found 17 dancing in the morning light. When we got to the point, it was reasonably cold (-8ºC) for this time of year, with a little bit of a windchill, and more ice than normal. It was nice and sunny the whole day, to make up for this though. The feeders were dead when we got there, but we found some Boreal Owl wingprints (see image) in the snow, where it had picked off an unsuspecting rodent. We searched the banders' route, but with no luck. When we got back, the feeders were active, with a flock of 25+ Bohemian Waxwings sitting in the tree, a Robin in a nearby shrub (first for the year), and 200+ Redpolls, mostly Commons but with at least 3 Hoary in the mix. By now it was warming up, so we grabbed our stuff and headed for the hawk platform. Calvin Brennan is the hawk counter for this year, and Ken Mety Jr. was there to tell more of his stories and jokes. The day was fairly productive for this time of year, with 7 species of raptor, most of them new for my yearlist. It eventually warmed up to 0ºC, but the windchill was still uncomfortable when you're sitting mostly still for so long. At least the sun was warm, and I even got a bit of a sunburn (another first for the year!) with the sun reflecting off the snow. Two Golden Eagles came by, one a nice adult bird with an amazingly golden head in the sun - almost looked white it was so bright. The other was a subadult bird, again in nice plumage. On the way back to the Sault, we spotted another Robin on the side of the road, foraging in what little grass was showing on the shoulder.

Our day list came out to only 24 species, but since most of it was spent at the hawk watch, that's not too bad a total. My Sault year birds are in bold.

Mallard - 10
Sharp-tailed Grouse - 17 on lek
Bald Eagle - 17
Northern Harrier - 1
Northern Goshawk - 1
Red-shouldered Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 13
Golden Eagle - 2
Merlin - 1
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin - 2
European Starling
Bohemian Waxwing - 25+
Pine Grosbeak - 10+
Red Crossbill - 12
Common Redpoll - 200+
Hoary Redpoll - 3

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