Today marked the inaugural count for the 2012 Green Tower season. From atop the high dune at Indiana Dunes State Park, the birds recognized that spring is here and began moving too (at least some species!).
The morning was marked by pre-dawn winds approaching 20mph. By sunrise, the winds were blowing strong from the south, with gusts that approached 40mph at times. At this speed, the sand was blowing from the nearby Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve and could be felt if you were out in the open. The wind did stimulate some bird movement, but any passerine movement failed to materialize with both robins and blackbirds equaling a combined 56 individuals.
The real movement this first day of the season was the impressive gulls streaming past the beach. With light songbird movement, we were able to carefully count 3,592 Ring-billed Gulls. With this many gulls, it’s not surprising that Herring, Great Black-backed, and Glaucous Gulls were found among them. Ten species of waterfowl were also found, although in relatively low numbers at this point.
By 9am, the early morning clouds had cleared, and under a bright sun, the cranes began migrating, totaling 408 birds today. 14 hawks/vultures were also logged today, but a few slipped by unidentified in the high winds.