Great numbers of hawks and other birds of prey are funneling around the northwest corner of Lake Erie these days - at least when the winds are right.
On Saturday hawk-watchers on duty at Lake Erie Metropark and Pointe Mouillee State Game Area northeast of Monroe counted more than 60,000 birds. It was the first big flight of the season, according to Jeff Schultz, president of Southeastern Michigan Raptor Research.
SERR is a private organization that annually monitors hawk migrations around the northwest corner of Lake Erie. Birds of prey funnel along the north shore of the lake and pour over the metropark and game area by the thousands. A North American record of more than a half-million hawks in a day was set there last year. The lake acts as a natural barrier to soaring hawks because of lack of thermals over water.
“Sunday was a bust,” said Schultz. “Thousands upon thousands of birds, but the large streams and kettles went north of our watch site.”
SERR this year for the first time has hired a full-time person to monitor the annual migrations, which run Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.
Only a few hundred birds had passed over the metropark boat-launch, the main watch site, as of mid-day yesterday, said Jerry Wykes, supervising interpreter at the metropark's Marshlands Nature Center and Museum. “The winds yesterday were light, but still southerly,'' he added.
The ideal winds for major flights of hawks are northerly, on clear, sunny days on the back side of a cold front.
Saturday's totals included 59,746 broad-winged hawks, 368 sharp-shinned hawks, 85 American kestrels, 37 turkey vultures, 31 red-tailed hawks, 21 northern harriers, 5 ospreys, 5 merlins, 4 bald eagles, 2 Cooper's hawks and a Swainson's hawk.
In 105-plus hours of watching since Sept. 1, through Saturday, SERR had recorded 74,235 hawks and birds of prey.
In other fall migration news, an array of songbirds is passing south, according to Tom Kemp. He maintains the rare-bird hotline for Toledo Naturalists' Association.
Last week, two avocets, a rare shorebird for these parts, were seen in the Maumee River Rapids at Jerome Road.
Later in the week at least 12 species of woodland warblers, including a hooded and a palm, were seen in the Oak Openings area, along with a sprinkling of flycatchers, vireos, a white-throated sparrow and a northern mockingbird.
wThe Ohio Wildlife Council has approved lower daily creel limits for walleye, sauger and saugeye, effective March 1.
The reductions limit the daily individual catch to four of the fish in any combination between March 1 and April 30 for Lake Erie and tributaries to the first dam or riffle. For the rest of the year the daily limit will be six.
On inland lakes and streams, the daily limit will be six year-round. The current limit statewide is 10 walleye, sauger or saugeye in any combination. The creel limit for the Ohio River remains unchanged at 10, to parallel the limits of West Virginia and Kentucky.
The new rules, particularly on Lake Erie, are part of a cooperative strategy to boost the lake's walleye population.
In other action, the Wildlife Council approved a rule change to allow hunters aged 17 and under to participate in the statewide youth upland season, set for Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29. During the season, hunters 17 and under, when accompanied by a licensed, non-hunting adult, may hunt public hunting areas for rabbits, pheasants and other legal game. The change was made to afford additional hunting opportunities for more youths.
The rule previously applied to ages 15 and under. A special pre-season youth waterfowl hunt, however, now scheduled for Oct. 14-15, will apply only to ages 15 and under because of federal regulations. The general waterfowl season will open Oct. 21.
wA yellow perch fishing derby is set for Sunday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Spot and Spam's Bait Shop, 5802 Edgewater Dr.
The longest yellow perch entered is set to win $500, with $250 and $100 going to second and third places, respectively. In a similar event in August, an 111/3 –inch perch won top prize among 62 entries. Entry fee is $20, or $25 after tomorrow. Call the shop, 726-4886.
wThe B.A.S.S. Federation Northern Divisional Championship is set for tomorrow through Friday on Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers.
Twelve angler-teams from seven states and Canada are competing for a share of the $54,000 in prize money. Daily weigh-ins are set for 2:30 p.m. at Harley Ensin Launch, 32295 South River Rd., Harrison Township. For other details call Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), 334-272-9530.
Tomorrow - Erie Shores Birding Association, 7:30 p.m., Room 201, Life Sciences Building, Monroe County Community College, Monroe, Mich., program by Julie and Mark Shieldcastle, of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Oak Harbor, O., on Lake Erie shorebird habitats.
Tomorrow - Oak Harbor Conservation Club, 6 p.m., Adopt-A-Road litter pickup, three areas in Carroll and Salem townships, Ottawa County, call Dennis Finke, 419-898-0518.
Saturday - Cowboy action shoot, register 8:30 a.m., shoot 10 a.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg, call Tim Frontine, 474-8373, or Bob Caswall, 862-2861.
Saturday - Black Swamp Bird Observatory, field trip to Holiday Beach, Ont., south of Windsor, for hawk migrations; call BSBO, 419-898-4070 or 419-898-4674.
Saturday - Toledo Naturalists' Association, field trip for fish seining in the Maumee River, 3 p.m.; meet leader Tom Kemp at Farnsworth Metropark, Roche de Boeuf parking lot.
Saturday - Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, seventh annual National Public Lands Day, 8 a.m., a day for volunteers to work on a trail project and beach cleanup; to sign up, call Rebecca Hinkle, 419-898-0014, extension 815.
Saturday - Native prairie work project, 10 a.m., Kitty Todd Nature Preserve, Old State Line Road; volunteers to collect seeds of native prairie plants for Oak Openings project; to register, call The Nature Conservancy, 856-1521.
Saturday - Kids fishing derby, 9 a.m. to noon, ages 15 and under, Izaak Walton League pond, Sandusky County Road 170 north of Turnpike Exit 6; observation of National Hunting and Fishing Day; call the Sandusky County Park District, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577.
Sunday - Bowshoots: Sandusky County Bow Benders, County Road 128 south of U.S. 20, Fremont, register 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3-D targets, Ty Wonderly Memorial Open, call Frank Cantu, 419-547-0472; also, Mudjaw Bowmen, 6240 Benore Rd., register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., whitetail preview, call Steve Oliver, 868-8414.
Monday - Public trapshoot, 6:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice, call Jeff Raczkowski, 836-2033.