First Frozen 5,000 and Counting

The 2013 Indiana Dunes Longshore Flight Count began this weekend.  Unlike last year’s balmy March conditions, this year is looking more typical.  Snow and ice hold much of the wetlands and forestland locked down.  The breeze from atop the staircase has a bite to it that we escaped last year.  Winter coats, hats, and gloves aren’t ready to be put up as seen from this snapshot taken today.

Chilly birders, March 9, 2013.

Despite the arctic conditions, spring migration is evident, as nearly 5,000 birds were logged on Friday and Saturday.  No real passerine flights have occurred but waterfowl and gulls are showing some early movement among the ice flows and broken icebergs floating in the big lake.  19 species of waterfowl were seen in the first two days, including all three scoters and 2 Long-tailed Ducks.

Lake Michigan full of ice, March 8, 2013.
Lake Michigan full of ice, March 8, 2013.

One aspect of this early spring flight that we’re most excited about is the potential for the return winter finch flight.  With the abundance of birds that passed through the dunes last fall, many of these will need to return north through the dunes.  Other western vagrants seen may also pass by, such as solitaires or Varied Thrush.  Thus far, it’s just been a combined ten Common Redpolls.

Selected highlights from the first two days are below:

Friday, March 8:

Greater White-fronted Goose  15
Green-winged Teal  3
Turkey Vulture  1
Cedar Waxwing  35
Common Redpoll  7

Saturday, March 9:

Northern Pintail  36
Green-winged Teal  2
Canvasback  16
Surf Scoter  1
White-winged Scoter  75
Black Scoter  1
Long-tailed Duck  2
Red-throated Loon  15     
Bald Eagle  3
Killdeer  71
American Crow  146
Snow Bunting  42     
Common Redpoll  3

First frozen 5,000 birds, 53 species, and counting….



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