Current Activity

Mid May

Saturday is Birdfest! Checkout; http://www.copperharborbirding.org/bird-fest/ to see the full slate of activities (pro tip, there’s an all you can eat pancake breakfast for $8.50!)

The north winds finally broke last week giving the first two day stretch of south winds in seemingly forever, along with the south winds came the biggest flight of the season on the 10th!

All told 1,870 raptors flew east past Brockway that day, with a peak hour of 642! Highlights included 1364 Broad-winged, 236 Sharp-shinned, 134 Red-tailed, 59 Turkey Vultures, 34 Bald Eagles, 11 Rough-legged Hawks (likely the last push of the spring), 1 Northern Goshawk, and 1 Swainson’s Hawk (adult intermediate type).

Since then things have slowed with the last six days only having totals in the double to low triple digit totals.

    

Off the mountain migration has been slowly picking up with warblers along with other expected spring migrants finally starting to increase. Notables since the last post include Cape May Warbler, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird, Evening Grosbeak, Western & Eastern Meadowlark, and a House Sparrow (so far the best bird of the spring, and one of only a handful of records for Keweenaw Co. in the last decade)!

May at Last (is it spring yet?)

The weather of late has been less than ideal. North winds have dominated eight out of the last nine days along with snow, sleet, rain, and fog. Below are some photos from the last batch of rain/snow to hit the mountain.

May 3rd featured the only south winds and flight of the period with 822 raptors for the day, including 535 Broad-winged Hawks, 100 Red-tailed Hawks, 82 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 2 Northern Goshawks, and 4 Golden Eagles. No other day during this period broke 100 birds. Usually the first south wind in May brings some of the largest flights of the season but the persistent northerly winds have kept things quiet this season.

Other birds around in the last week or so include Am. White Pelican, Trumpeter Swan, Greater Yellowlegs, Palm Warbler, Lincoln’s, Chipping, and Le Conte’s Sparrow.

Pancake Breakfast to Benefit BMHW

Not Your Mother’s Pancake Breakfast ~ Hosted by Copper Harbor Birding
When: Saturday, May 20th from 8:30 am to  11:00 am
Where: The Mariner North in Copper Harbor

AUCE Pancake Buffet ~ Enjoy fluffy pancakes with a delightful array of toppings including fresh fruit and berries, fruit sauces and syrups, various toppings and Peg’s famous Frangelico Cream! Served with bacon and sausages as well as coffee or milk.

Cost is $8.50 per person. Proceeds benefit the Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch!
Eat pancakes and help protect the environment ~ How can you go wrong?

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Brockway Mountain Drive Is Open

The gate is down and the road is open, but it is currently dangerously icy. It’s sunny now and everything is melting so it should be better soon. If you’re considering going up remember, the drive has some very steep hills, please use caution and choose wisely.

We will keep you updated as to changes in condition.

End of April

Weather has been an issue during the past week with rain, snow, and fog delaying the count or shutting it down completely. As I write this the Keweenaw is blanketed in a wintry mix of sleet, snow, rain, and fog.

Not surprisingly the road is still closed, although I suspect it will be opening in the next few days.

The poor weather has also contributed to a slow week for raptors. Up to the 25th the season as a whole was the lowest on record by a large margin. But then the 25th happened, the skies opened and 1,157 raptors went east past the overlook! More birds were recorded on the 25th than had been recorded during the entire season up to that point!

767 Broad-winged’s led the flight (all of which flew past in the last three hours of the day), 165 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 78 Red-tailed Hawks (including one dark morph), 52 Bald Eagles, and 50 Turkey Vultures were the other top flyers of the day. Seven Osprey were a good count, while an adult Golden Eagle gave a close look. The highlight of the day were two light/intermediate morph adult Swainson’s Hawks, the first April records since 2013! Also of interest was an American White Pelican that rode a thermal with a kettle of Broad-winged’s.

Off the mountain things have been slow as well, with recent arrivals being Horned Grebe, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Vesper Sparrow, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow. While extremely rare in the lower peninsula (one record), Eurasian Tree Sparrow’s are relatively common in the UP with 25+ records in the last ten years (8+ coming from Copper Harbor).

 

Ice, Snow, Fog, and Rain (yes, the drive is still closed)

April plods on, banausic and bromidic. With rain, snow, ice, and fog out numbering the raptors.

Notable flights since my last update were contained to one day, the 14th. When a nice flight of 210 raptors occurred. The majority of the flight was made up by Red-tails with 73 recorded for the day including a nice looking dark-morph, Turkey Vultures came in second with 54 for the day, while Sharp-shinned Hawks and Bald Eagles vied for second place with 30 and 31 respectively. New for the season was an adult Peregrine Falcon and ( while not a raptor) a Tree Swallow which was possibly the first one in the entire Keweenaw this spring! Three Northern Goshawks and a Golden Eagle rounded out the noteworthy species for the day. The only other recent arrival on the mountain was an Osprey on the 17th.

 

Off the mountain a nice passerine flight was noted on the 9th. Notables included Ruby-crowned Kinglet (tying the record early arrival recordfor the Keweenaw I set back in 2015), Western and Eastern Meadowlarks, Pied-billed Grebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Eastern Phoebe. Other recent arrivals include Trumpeter Swan, American Woodcock, Savannah Sparrow, and a Field Sparrow (one of only a handful of records for the Keweenaw in the last decade).

Bohemian Waxwings have been regular in town, while Redpoll and Siskin numbers are starting to decline.

With the mountain as slow as it is, blog-worthy material has been sparse. So for those hoping for multiple posts a week, I would suggest instead going outside and looking for some migrants in person!

Yes, the road up Brockway is still closed and will likely remain closed to auto traffic through the end of the month. But with the road free of cars this is the perfect time to take a walk or bike ride along it!

April!

April has arrived! And with it a decrease in snow and an increase in birds!

The 2nd featured the biggest flight of the spring thus far, with ninty-five raptors including 55 Bald Eagles, 25 Red-tailed Hawks, and 2 Northern Goshawks (including the adult pictured below). Other raptors recorded in the last week include Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

While not a raptor Northern Shrikes are still a predator, and one has made several appearances at the count site this week.

Other recent arrivals to the far north of Michigan include Mallard, Sandhill Crane, Ring-billed Gull, Killdeer, American Robin, Song Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco. Lingering species include Bohemian Waxwing, Common Redpoll, and Pine Grosbeak.

Also worth noting was this tourist Wild Turkey that walked up to the shack and looked at me before wandering around the count site and then heading east down the road.

Locally snow levels have dropped, with exposed areas being predominantly snow free. However in the valleys and sheltered areas 5-6ft drifts are holding on.

Note that the drive up Brockway is closed to auto traffic through the end of April.