Friday, March 16, 2012 began unlike all the other mornings we’ve had this season… calm! Little to no winds greeted the counters today. Only occasionally, a slight breeze would chill the air, as if bouncing from SW to NW. The cold air over the lake had an opportunity to infiltrate the foredunes, creating a slight chill. Though last year, 48 degrees on this date would have not qualified as a chill!
Today’s flight would continue the several day slide in total number of birds. From Wednesday through today, total birds were 22,733, 14,876, and today’s 12,962. Robins, Grackles, and Blackbirds dominated again, accounting for 68% of the morning’s flight. A major front may be needed to drive another pulse of birds into the dunes. Even without though, birds will continue to stream in on the south winds regardless.
Today welcomed a few visitors to the count, including Lee Sterrenburg, Kathy McClain, and Jeff McCoy. The combined effort allowed for more eyes to be in search of the passing birds from all directions. While generally slower than the past few days, the morning offered a few highlights, including a 140 Red-breasted Mergansers, a single Merlin, a continuing Great Black-backed Gull hybrid species that tends to make it’s rounds each morning, 55 bluebirds, and two Common Redpolls. The best bird of the morning was a lone female Red Crossbill seen well by a few birders as it passed over the adjacent parking lot next to the tower site.
Sandhill Cranes offered up some more birds for the neighboring states to the north. We have now counted 22,008 cranes flying over the park in the last ten days! Even though cranes were moving, hawks again continued to disappoint. Today saw a mere 29 birds of prey fly by.
Until tomorrow… another day, another south wind!