March 27, 2013. Winter still has it’s stronghold in the Indiana Dunes area. Things could be worse, as we could have nearly a foot of snow on the ground to melt off! But, temperatures and winds have not been conducive to migration. The growing concern lies that birds will push on through the north winds in smaller numbers and by the time winds finally shift, and by the time the season passes we’ll be left with a short scorecard, rather than experience fewer, more more spectacular gang buster days. The same fears of smaller migration numbers diminishes the perceived value of the lakefront for bird migration.
Waiting this long, the prospect of a south wind day feels like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. It’s a daily check of the detailed weather discussions, hoping desperately for a mention of south winds. Finally, that mention is upon us. Last weekend, it looked fabulous. South winds were being predicted Thursday-Sunday of this week. Today, the south wind forecast has been reduced to Saturday and Sunday only. To put frankly, we predict Saturday will be fantastic, if not the best migration day of the season thus far. Mark your calendars and expect a large crowd on the staircase Saturday morning!
This week has been a good test of north wind migration. Small counts have been conducted the last two mornings. Ducks and gulls continue to be seen off-shore. Little passerine movement have been seen. As more ducks and loons arrive on the lake, remnants of last season’s warm temperatures linger in the form of increased type E-Botulism. Many articles came out last winter about ducks and loons dying off on the lake. Just this week, several ducks have been found dead on the shores near the Indiana Dunes, including this scoter pictured above.
The oddity of the week was an incredible north wind blackbird flight that occurred today, including a single flock of 12,000 Red-winged Blackbirds attempting to move against the wind. Though colder and slower, a few north wind migration counts seem to be paying off too.