Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Winter in Whitefish

By Cory Ritter

This is the forecast for Whitefish Point from Monday night, and it hasn't let us down yet. We had about about 6 inches over Monday night and Tuesday, and there is more on the way!

One can't complain about this weather too much when at a hawk count site, because it is often associated with charismatic birds. And, this time is no exception. While we were limited to three species for the first three days of the count (Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, and Red-tailed Hawk), Monday brought the fourth.
Northern Goshawk, Whitefish Point, MI, 3/18/2013
Northern Goshawk, Whitefish Point, MI, 3/18/2013
Out of focus, but one of the only head-on shots, 3/18/2013
Tuesday wasn't quite as nice as Monday. I awoke to a heavy snow that would deter most from trudging up to the count platform. However, I've learned from some of the best that it has to be some really bad weather to stop all of the birds. So, I headed up to the platform during the peak hours, in the heavy snow, to see what was flying.
Keeping warm and stopping the snow from jabbing me in the eye
As one would expect, there were no signs of life. It was 45 minutes before I saw my first bird--a single Common Raven. So, I stood and searched through my snow covered bins in vain.

Whup..whats that..

My fruitless efforts were no more, as a pair of Golden Eagles became visible off in the distance through the thick snow. I thought my day might just be turning around considering I just came across a new season high golden count; however, the birds we gone as quickly as they had appeared, and just then, the snow picked up. I waited in solitude for another bird to appear, but even the lone raven was nowhere to be seen. As it became near white-out conditions, I decided to head down and try my luck tomorrow.


  1. Wow. MAJOR bravery and stalwart points! Hope you got warmed back up. =)

  2. Great story Cory, and incredible shots of that goshawk - reminds me of that day we had an immature goshawk go right over us at Dunnings Mtn in the snow. I totally realte to your raven sighting - I love being up a hawkwatch for hours, with harsh winter conditions, terrible visibility, no birds...and then a raven cruises through and completely restores hope.

    1. Thanks, Alex. It's funny to think back to when a day of five raptors was about average, and how the excitement of a single goshawk in the snow was definitely unmatched. And it is certainly nice to have ravens around to keep you company on otherwise slow days.