Some Loony Weather

Longshore Rainbow, March 23, 2012

This morning greeted the counters with the first real precipitation in days, if not two weeks.  Despite the weather, it was absolutely beautiful and calm out over the high dune.  By dawn, most of the morning rain was more of a drizzle off and on.  The rain was never really hard enough to put a hamper on the birding.  Heavier rains came later in the afternoon, but for the morning, songs could be heard, and a few birds did choose to migrate.

The best highlight may not have been a bird, but the amazing full color rainbow that arched across the sky around 8:30am.  As the old birding lore goes, some mega rarity was sitting off shore at the end of that rainbow.  A Yellow-billed Loon perhaps.

A loon no doubt, as there was a good movement of loons early this morning.  The loon migration typically peaks in mid-April, but a good number are already being seen.  The dunes area hosts record counts of 1,000+ birds.  The majority of these high counts occur in the fall, but a few spectacular spring counts also exist.  Thus today’s 69 Common Loons and 5 Red-throated Loons are merely the tip of the iceberg, but quite enjoyable for folks that have never seen that many loons on the water at once.

As one can guess, the morning flight of passerines never really took off.  Perhaps 1,000 robins and blackbirds flew over the tower site this morning.  However, once again, Palm Warblers made a presence, with two more birds being seen.  One of the Palm Warblers chose to serenade the counters with it’s weak trill from the West Lot for quite a while.  A quick look on Ebird and IN-Bird shows that no other birders in Indiana have seen a Palm Warbler yet.  Odd?  Accompanying the Palm Warbler in song was the season’s first territorial Pine Warbler.  Add the two Yellow-rumped Warblers and it was the season’s first three warbler species day!

After 14 full days in a row of counting birds, it may be nice to have some breaks in the coming week.  The forecast becomes more complicated and wind shifts will occur more often.  Calm north winds don’t necessarily mean no birds, so if conditions look good, we will still be out there.


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