Sunday, March 17, 2013

Return to Whitefish

By Cory Ritter

This is my first post in...a really long time, and there is good reason for it. I'm back in Whitefish Point for my second season as the spring hawk counter!

The weather this year couldn't be more different from the last. I arrived to a virtually snow-less point last March with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. It was really quite the welcome to the Upper Peninsula. However, just as I had suspected, it was all part of some twisted conspiracy to influence me to come back another season. And it worked! I have come back for my second season, and this time I have been welcomed by snow, frigid temperatures, and unrelenting winds. The roughly three feet of snow on the ground (and the hawk platform walkway) must not have been enough because it has snowed an additional 8+ inches since I arrived.
The view towards the Northeast from the count platform, 3/15/2013
One of the few birds at the feeders behind the gift shop, 3/15/2013
 On the bright side, the snow cover should help light up those birds and make for some great (decent) photography. Oh, and I'll be able to put my new cross-country skis to good use!

Moving right along, the season started on Friday the 15th. I haven't been too surprised by the fact that the first two days have been quite slow. Ten raptors flew by on Friday and just six on Saturday. Bald Eagles have made up  the bulk of the count with seven on Friday and four on Saturday, but I've also seen two Red-tailed Hawks and one Golden Eagle to keep things interesting.
Probably the closest raptor of the season, this young Bald Eagle flew by on March 16, 2013
Last year, the winter finches were around by the hundreds right at the beginning of the season; however, it appears  many still have yet to make their way back through Whitefish this season, as I have only seen a flock of about twenty to twenty-five Common Redpolls and a group of roughly ten Pine Grosbeaks thus far.
Just as I was, this Common Redpoll is staying warm in the snow, 3/15/2013
It is clearly early in the season, and things will surely pick up as time goes on. I'm sure you're just as interested to see how things unfold up here at Whitefish Point after a more normal winter, so don't forget to keep checking back throughout the season!


  1. Sure looks cold up there, BURR. I hope you see some arctic fluff-balls.


    1. I'm sure I'll see a whole bunch of those little buggers!

  2. Oh, I'm stoked you're back there. Sorry it's so cold. At least that means it's v. beautiful. Great shots! (as per)

    My 1st winter in Michigan (California girl) was the coldest winter on record. Then we had the darkest winter on record. Then there was my last year, grad-school-finish-that-thesis time, and they had the lowest recorded temperature ever for Michigan. -50F in Flint. It was a balmy -30F in Ann Arbor, while I walked 2 FRIGID blocks to my office.

    I returned to California. Clearly, that state didn't want me.

    And tho' I LOVE that town and the state and its AMAZINGLY ROBUST, brave, hard working & uncomplaining people, it's not for me. =) Props to you and your stalwart nature.

    1. I recently came to the conclusion that I deal much better with the ridiculously cold than the oppressingly hot. Plus, I enjoy bundling up and heading out into the brutal northern winters.

      Thanks for reading!