Saturday, May 19 brought another hot and sultry day to the dunes. Strong south winds allowed for more Blue Jay and Waxwings to stream over the high dunes. Large flights would occur, while early season beach goers (and a metal detecting event) would flood to the beach, unbeknownst to the ornithological event occurring just above them.
A strong south wind quickly brought temperatures into the 80s for the count period. 4,572 birds, comprising 86 species would be logged. Though diverse, 4 out of 5 birds that passed by would be a Cedar Waxwings. Waxwings were so numerous, they would take the 4th highest state count, with 3,739 birds. All the highest counts have occurred here in the dunes.
Bird number 207 for the season would appear today, as a Black-billed Cuckoo was found near the Green Tower site. Also notable were 2 Common Loons, 1 Merlin, 76 Eastern Kingbirds, 178 Blue Jays, 55 Indigo Buntings, 26 Baltimore Orioles, and a lone Pine Siskin.
The Dunes area Friends of Indiana Dunes birdathon also took place on Saturday. $1,795.40 was raised for the new bird tower project, going on now. The team found 142 species of birds on a very warbler-less day. A highlight was stopping by the green tower in time to watch the day’s only Merlin go by. A good bird for a birdathon any year.