In the spring of 2001, I (Joseph Youngman) talked to Greg Kudray about taking his 14' boat over to Manitou Island for a couple days to see the raptor migration. We picked our date and made our plans, but when the time came the waves were just too big and we had to cancel. But the idea of spending time on Manitou Island stuck with me. By late summer I hatched the idea to make a major effort in 2002 to study the birds of Manitou. In pursuit of that goal I talked to Joe Kaplan, Keren Tischler and Jake Musser about being part of the group who would venture over to Manitou the next year. We started planning and went to the Copper Country Audubon Club to ask for financial assistance. The plan always assumed that the birders doing the observing would volunteer their time and efforts. But we needed money to charter a boat to get us to and from the island. CCA came through with a few hundred dollars and we applied for and received a $750 grant from the MDNR's Non-Game Natural Heritage grant program.
As the spring of 2002 approached our group had expanded to include Marj and Ray Krumm. We planned on going to Manitou in late April or early May and having groups on each end of the island. Manitou has a long thin peninsula at both the west and east ends. The observers at the west end should be able to keep a complete count of all raptors moving between the Keweenaw and the island. The group at the other end would be able to see if any raptors seemed to be crossing the lake as was reported by Dr. Norman Wood of the University of Michigan in an article on his visit to the Keweenaw in 1931. As the time approached we added Heidi Anderson to the group. Unfortunately, due to school schedules both Keren Tischler and Jake Musser were not able to go on that first trip. The Equinox, a 41 foot boat run by Fred's Charters of Copper Harbor was hired to haul us to and from the island. There is only one dock on Manitou and in case the wind direction made access to that dock impossible we always take a canoe. That way, if wind and waves make it necessary the observers can transfer from the Equinox to the canoe in a protected bay and paddle ashore. So we went out in the evening of May 4 th and returned in the afternoon of May 7 th . Details of what we saw can be found in the Report section of this website.
In June of 2002 the original group of Kaplan, Musser, Tischler and Youngman went out on the 17 th and returned on the 20 th . Our focus this time was on breeding birds and we camped near the Lake Superior shore near the center of Manitou. This was the first trip where we all got a feel for just how nasty Manitou is for the perambulations of large vertebrates. There are no deer or moose on the island to eat the undergrowth and there is almost no soil to hold the trees upright. So we encountered large areas of blowdown - fresh ones and old ones filled with brush. But we did cover all areas of the island in our search for breeding birds.
In July of 2002, Musser and Youngman returned to Manitou from the 13 th through the 16 th to continue the breeding bird work. As we were just ready to leave the island on the 16 th a Black Vulture flew over us!
In September of 2002, Ray Krumm, Greg Kudray and Youngman returned to the island in Greg's boat for three days to see what fall migration might bring to Manitou.
2003 brought significant change to the observer crew at Manitou but our basic goals were the same. Learn as much as we can about migration at Manitou and determine its breeding birds. I decided to try and increase the length of observation during the spring raptor migration period and reduce the breeding bird visits from two to one. The crew lined up for late April and early May included: Marj and Ray Krumm, Shawn Hagan, Tina Schoos, Zach Gayk, Lynn Murphy, Dave Bach, Dave Fehringer and Youngman. We planned to go in three shifts of three days each. Bach and Schoos got the first shift, Gayk, Krumm, Murphy and Youngman went second. Unfortunately, the weatherman was calling for days of rain and strong easterly gales after that so the third shift of Hagan and Fehringer was canceled. We had observers on Manitou from April 29 th through May 3 rd .
In June of 2003, Gayk, Murphy and Youngman were joined by Brian Johnson and Lena Usyk for the breeding bird work. We went out on the 28 th and returned on the 1 st of July.
The fall trip for 2003 was planned for late September and Joe Kaplan, Keren Tischler, Zach Gayk and Ray Krumm were all planning to come along. Our schedule got rearranged by weather too rough for even our sturdy boat and captain and when the trip actually proceeded, only Brian Johnson and Youngman were unloaded at the dock on Manitou. We went out on the 5 th of October and returned on the 8 th .
2004? As this is written in late fall of 2003 I am planning for the 2004 Manitou Island Bird Survey. Though we can surely fine tune the breeding bird list I think we've gotten a pretty good picture of Manitou's breeding birds in the first two years. The fall trips have surely turned up some interesting finds, but the spring raptors seem like the most interesting area for more work. So, the plan is to put the entire effort for 2004 into the spring. In the spring we're most interested in the raptors but of course we keep track of all birds on and around Manitou. We hope to have observers on each end of Manitou for at least two weeks next April and May of 2004. Stay tuned.