Bad Day to be a Songbird…

May Day!  May 1, 2012 provided for another wondrous day of south winds.  An eclectic group of birds were logged that made the day just as spectacular as yesterday, except with a completely different set of birds.  The promise of good birds lured other birders to the old Green Tower site at Indiana Dunes State Park.   Providing assistance were the young birding phenom from the Indiana Young Birders Club, Landon Neumann, and his Costa Rican birding friend, Laramie Aspegren.  On the other end of the spectrum, veteran state birding expert Ken Brock provided his expertise in today’s hawk flight.  Somewhere cookies were reported to have been passed around too.

The sun attempts to break through the thick fog at 7am local time, 5/1/12

The day began by appearing quite dismal.  A heavy fog had set in overnight, and was thick as clam chowder at dawn.  While visibility was poor, birds were clearly singing and when seen… migrating.  Reports farther in the park showed that at least a dozen warblers were in full song, and several new arrivals were on territory.  Slowly the fog burnt away, and birds began to be logged.  By the end of the day, 2,516 individual birds from 93 species were counted.

The amazing highlight of the day was another hawk flight.  This time, under nearly full clouds, with some peeking blue sky, the hawks began to move.  While many species would go by, Sharp-shinned Hawks would dominate the sky.  The bird eating predators would be ticked off minute by minute until 334 would be logged, a new Indiana state record, shattering the old record of 223 set 20 years ago.  Merlin were officially nominated to the Green Tower trash bird list, as counters were forced to watch another two today, totaling 29 for the season.  One of today’s birds stayed quite cooperative, as it tore apart it’s feathered prey within eyesight of the tower counters.

Yet another Merlin near the Green Tower, 5/1/12. The bird was feasting on some unknown bird, the group consensus being Bachman's Warbler.

The obvious raptor highlight was not one spectacular bird, but two!  Indiana’s first May record of a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was logged by hawk watchers today.  Not long after, the state park’s  sixth SWAINSON’S HAWK soared over, providing excellent views.

Swainson's Hawk (light morph) soaring over Dunes State Park, 5/1/12. Photo courtesy Ken Brock.

Rounding out the day’s highlights were 6 Osprey, 585 Blue Jays, 36 Neumann Cookies, 39 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 1 Cape May Warbler, 1 Lark Sparrow, and an amazing 192 Baltimore Orioles.

South winds, day 3 up next!

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One thought on “Bad Day to be a Songbird…”

  1. Thanks for sharing…our grandson from Costa Rica was excited and shared his experiences at dinner last evening. He has taught his grandparents so much from his birding experiences.

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