Well it’s been a quiet week at Lake Michigan, Indiana, our hometown, out on the edge of the migration. Things got a little colder here this last week. While Sunday and Monday brought a mini heat wave and the pulse of migrants, a strong north wind clipper quickly shut off that valve Tuesday morning. Fortunately the birds arrived Monday night and found no place to go, so we benefited and continue to do so if you’re bundled up enough to find them in the gloomy weather since then. No more bluebird blue skies, but more phoebe gray perhaps. The locals are practicing their silhouette birding skills, and warming up their warbler necks in anticipation of the next wave to come. It drives you out to bird, just knowing there is something here that’s new to see. Some new vireo in the treetops that has yet gone unseen this year. New shorebirds are possible in the wet puddle, pond, or fuddle along some county road. Maybe it’s the bright orange of an oriole at your feeder on a dreary morning, proving that spring is in fact coming, or more accurately we’ll go from winter right to summer as is usually expected anymore.
With those early Tuesday arrivals, was a pair of Prothonotary Warblers at the Dunes State Park board walk near the Wilson Shelter. A single male typically heralds the season of golden yellow on the boardwalk, but apparently two males this past week found the wetland full of buttonbush and spatterdock to their liking. The early bugs hugging the relatively warmer waters brought N Waterthrushes, Yellow-rumps, Palms, Orange-crowed Warblers all to feed near the surface at eye level. All the while two bright yellow Prothonotaries dart around, each trying to sing louder then the other, and then to suddenly be pounced by the second bird, only to dart around and do it all again, all oblivious to the surrounding animals watching their hormone driven antics. Much like school boys swooning over a new belle in the school yard. a showmanship of one up man’s ship took place for many to see Tuesday morning.
From inside the Nature Center, plans are buzzing, people are moving now at a feverish pace as we prepare for the second annual Indiana Dunes Birding Festival. If you’re wishing to attend, and haven’t registered, well things may be a bit late. You know what they say about the early bird… Nonetheless there are activities abound for folks, whether registered or not. Final preparations are being made, banners being hung, signs being made, merchandise and giveaways secured and counted. With that comes prayers and hopes for good weather. Of course, it’s more than birds were interested in too. No doubt you, like other birders, enjoy the foxes, moles, rabbits, deer, and other wildlife that will be around for one of a kind glimpses. We’ve done much for conservation in NW Indiana and no doubt you’ll see something special, no matter the weather. A mink bounds along even a ditch, seeking out frogs, crayfish, or a thirsty vole. The new Reynold’s Creek GHA, east of Chesterton offers a peek of nature coming back. How quickly to things show up when given the chance, and solitude reserved for them. A Great-horned Owl reclaims the territory first given to him by the Creator. He slow glides over newly freed meadows and prairies on the edge of the forestland in search of young pheasants. Baby pheasants, the delicacy of predators, found only where nature has been allowed to flourish.
To find these amazing sights, seek out on your own. Forge new paths, travel down un-ventured roads. If you’re ready to chase, use our Indiana Dunes Rare Bird Alert. You’ll join nearly 1,700 people who get rare birds in the dunes sent to their phone or email. With any hope we’ll have plenty of alerts to send out and plenty of birds to come in the next few days as we wait this current cold system out. East to northeasterly surface flow will continue for the next several days. This will keep the current selection of migrants here for plenty to see. Over a dozen species of warblers have already been logged in the dunes just this week. Butter-butts remain the abundant warbler. Temperatures do look to be on a slow warming trend early next week…with mainly dry weather expected. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this plays out and new birds arrive in time for the bird fest.
That’s the news from Indiana Dunes, where all the Blue Jays are strong, all the sparrows are good looking, and all our fledgling colts are above average. :)