Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tundra Swan Migration 3/13/2016

  At my old house in Wayne County,  I added Tundra Swans to the yardlist when 25 flew over on March 15, 2011. At the time I noted that 25 was the greatest number of any species that I recorded on the first day that I added them to the list. That was eventually eclipsed when I had 40 Snow Buntings fly through the yard in November 2012 on the day of their yard debut.

  Two days short of five years later and 204 miles to the northwest I was able to add Tundra Swans(#93) to the new yardlist and destroyed the old record first day total for yardlist addee with 2190.  
Here's the story........

   At about 9 AM this morning my wife stepped out on the deck and heard a clamor that drew her attention to a large flock of (she estimated 500)  birds flying high above the wooded lot next door. I was elsewhere in the house so it was a few minutes before she told me of her sighting.  I didn't ask what kind of birds they were since she is a non-birder. That said, I respect her numerical skills because she can keep a running total of variety of things simultaneously. She shows off this skill occasionally as I am  quizzed on her running totals in the form of questions like.... "Do you know  how many minutes late you are coming home (from work)?" : "Do you know how many times you accepted overtime when we were supposed to get together with my( her) family?" and the multi-part extra-credit question "Do you know how much you spent on Christmas, Valentine's, birthday or anniversary gifts over the past 30 years?" (trick question... the answer is $0.00). 
    I headed out to the yard and was rewarded about 20 minutes later, as I was talking to my neighbor we heard a ruckus from the east seemingly ride the light southeast breeze.  About a minute later the sky was filled with a tidal wave of Tundra Swans in configurations of V's, X's checkmarks and straight-lines in groups of 30....50... and well over 100.  I estimated the initial wave at 1000. A couple of minutes later another 500 came by.  Over the course of the next couple of hours isolated groups ranging from 4 to 140 continued on the same flight path. I was able to count these flocks accurately by twos and fives until they added up to 690.  That gave a total of at least  2190 (as the initial 1500 was estimated, conservatively, I might add), not counting the first group that my wife had seen.  

The significance of this photo is that its #100,000 that I've taken with my 5D Mark3

  I also added Killdeer (#94) to the yardlist this morning 

  A good variety of raptors were also passing through
Immature Red-shouldered Hawk

Almost mature Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

   Besides the swans some Canada Geese flew over along with Mallards and a male Common Merganser.
Common Merganser

   Yesterday the lighting was much better and here are the birds of interest that I was able to photograph.

   At Pere Marquette Lake

Horned Grebe
  At the Ludington South Pier
Northern Pintail

Red-winged Blackbird
  At home yesterday morning
Common Merganser

Red-tailed Hawk

Sandhill Cranes

Cooper's Hawk

Yellow Jacket
  Earlier in the week I added Song Sparrow to the yardlist.


  1. She has been known to over-exaggerate though..

    1. But not about serious things like Tundra Swans. To be safe her observation wasn't included in the total.