Great Hoosier Birding

Birding was on fire today in Indiana.  As promised, a notable flight occurred today over the Indiana Dunes area, including a few new records to talk about.  All of this occurring while hundreds of birders from throughout the country converged at the other end of the state at Goose Pond FWA for the now well known ABA Code 4 Spotted Redshank, from Europe.

Under an early morning, bone chilling cold (bone chilling = 28 degrees!), an all star cast of birders converged to assist or spectate in the count today.  Elbow room was tight, but the sky was tighter with birds weaving around each other as an early dawn flight began even before the sun was up.  The sky glowed pink to the east during the pre-dawn moments and  large blackbird flocks were seen not only overhead but to the distant south.

Turkey Vultures over the Green Tower site.
Turkey Vultures over the Green Tower site.

Throughout the morning a rough count of about 18 different birders visited the tower site.  Whether simply watching the morning flight or adding data to the count, several new dunes area or state records were achieved in today’s flight.  On top of this, nearly 25,000 birds were seen, from a diverse cast of waterfowl, raptors, and passerines.

Of today’s high counts, Red-winged Blackbirds continue to lead the pack.  Today’s count was 14,454 birds.  American Robins impressed with 1,958 birds.  1,941 Sandhill Cranes made a brief, but strong appearance near the noon hour.    On the water, 23 species of waterfowl (including loons and grebes) floated by, with Red-breasted Mergansers still going strong with 470 seen.

For records, 200 Greater White-fronted Geese took the second highest Dunes area count today.  These geese (as well as Snow/Ross’s) are generally rare on the lakefront.   Today’s crane flight was not the highest, but should find a spot in the top 10 Dunes Area high counts.  21 migrating Black-capped Chickadees was shy of the top 10 count, but significant nonetheless and evidence that Black-capped Chickadees do indeed migrate. Taking the seventh highest state count, 111 Eastern Bluebirds were a constant flight of “knock your grandma socks off, look at those bluebirds go!”  Our 73 Eastern Meadowlarks don’t break any state records, but will go down as the second highest count tallied in the Dunes Area.

Migrating Meadowlark
Migrating Meadowlark

The biggest record breaker of the day was 34 Eastern Phoebes… a new state second highest single party record.

Other highlights worth talking about include the fact that nearly every single count thus far this season (12 official counts) have included both White-winged Scoters and Common Redpoll.   A near record early Barn Swallow may be the early bird of the day.  A major hawk flight never materialized, but a showing of 74 bird of prey is nothing to ignore.

Today’s major highlights listed below.  For dunes area and state high count comparisons, every Hoosier birder should own both Brock’s Birds of Indiana and Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes*

Greater White-fronted Goose  200
Wood Duck  12
Northern Pintail  5
Redhead  63
Surf Scoter  2
White-winged Scoter  44
Red-breasted Merganser  470
Red-throated Loon  5
Common Loon  8
Turkey Vulture  25
Northern Harrier  3
Sharp-shinned Hawk  2
Red-tailed Hawk  26
Sandhill Crane  1941
American Woodcock  1
Bonaparte’s Gull  2
Caspian Tern  5    
Pileated Woodpecker  1
American Kestrel  10
Merlin  1
Eastern Phoebe  34
Tree Swallow  46
Barn Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  21
Golden-crowned Kinglet  6
Eastern Bluebird  111
American Pipit  4
Lapland Longspur  25
Red-winged Blackbird  14454     
Eastern Meadowlark  73
Common Redpoll  23   
Pine Siskin  1

*This blogger has no financial interest in Brock’s Bird CDs!

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