Preparing for a Second Season!

Three more seasons have passed.  Spring is again upon the dunes and the massive longshore flight is about to begin.  Like last year, the Indiana Dunes State Park, NIMBA, and the Lake Michigan Coastal Program have teamed up to document the morning flight that will occur from atop a high dune along the beaches of Lake Michigan.  Last year over 283,000 birds were assigned to species as they traversed the beach, high dunes, and swales to the south of us.

Since our last season, our morning bird flight has received a little more press.  Most notably is the March/April issue of Outdoor Indiana.  The article really captures the longshore bird migration, why it’s so amazing, and why others should be flocking to the dunes to witness it.

Outdoor Indiana
March 2013 Outdoor Indiana article!

We’re also using this opportunity to speak to some Audubon chapters and local interest groups.  The data is astounding and we’re only now beginning to sort through last year’s data set and to begin drawing any conclusions from one year of study.  Even more encouraging is word that the nearest Michigan county north of us has even begun it’s own staffed longshore bird counter position too.  Comparing our flight data with theirs will help to connect migration points and where and how fast these birds are migrating around Lake Michigan.

Birders awaiting the morning flight in 2012.
Birders awaiting the morning flight in 2012.

We received many visitors to the tower site in 2012.  We will begin our 2013 season on the same staircase where we ended last spring.  However, a new 20 foot tower is being built behind the stair case and we anticipate to be up there at some point this spring.  Anyone is welcome to join us, just check the forecast (there is a weather sticker to the right of this post) for south winds and you know we’ll be up there.

We already know a large bottle neck of birds is awaiting the northward push as temperatures warm and ice thaws.  When it begins in earnest we’ll be up top, ready to go.  We anticipate our first counts will occur sometime in early March.  Once again, we’ll be riding the weather rollercoaster and hoping for warm south winds.  Until then, here’s the beach shot this late February day…

Dunes State Park February 2013.
Dunes State Park February 2013.