Going out like a lamb…

A warm and sunny longshore flight brought the warmest temperatures of the month today.  Quite a change from the cold and snow of weeks earlier.  There used to be people who believed that bad spirits could affect the weather adversely, so they were cautious as to what they did or did not do in certain situations. Those beliefs often included ideas that there should be a balance in weather and life. So, if a month came in bad (like a lion), it should go out good and calm (like a lamb).  The weather certainly was good today.  Both birders and non-birders were out and about enjoying the great day in the Indiana Dunes State Park.

The winds overnight shifted from southerly to westerly.  Gusts by late afternoon began to shift to the northwest, ushering in a couple days of cold weather that will stiffle any longshore flight early this upcoming week.  We’re hopeful, however, that light winds south of us will allow a wave of migrants to set at Indiana’s doorstep, ready for the next push northward.  The hopeful arrivals in this wave coming to the dunes will likely include swallows, kinglets, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, and a few more sparrow species.

Wind Map, Sun, March 31, showing incoming north winds.
Wind Map, Sun, March 31, showing incoming north winds.

Today’s flight was a decent 10,000 bird day.  Move over Batman, as the robins were in full swing.  With the aerial highway clear of any large scale blackbird movement, American Robins cruised the west winds, riding the undulating dune ridges.  A season high 5,834 cruised on by.  Pending verification, this count looks to be the state’s highest spring count of robins, and perhaps the second highest total ever seen by an observer in Indiana.  That’s a lot of birds, but pales when you consider that their estimated to be 320 million robins throughout North America.  Following our joke last year…, “heading to a neighborhood lawn near you!”

American Robins migrating against the wind.
American Robins migrating against the wind.

With 9,384 birds today, we now have reached 156,000 birds for the season.  This includes 98 species now!  Last year we had 186,000 birds at the end of March, so given the difficulties and north winds this month, we’re really only down 16%.  A few good south winds in early April can help us catch up or surpass last year’s flight.  Many birds have not ramped up yet in any decent numbers.  We’re still waiting on Flickers, Longspurs, Pipits, and Sapsuckers to get going.

Today’s major highlights below:

American Wigeon 40
White-winged Scoter 20
Great Egret 1 (first of the season)
American Woodcock 1
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Caspian Tern 3
Mourning Dove 158 (likely top 10 dunes area count)
Merlin 1
Eastern Phoebe 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 (new for the season)
Golden-crowned Kinglet 4
American Robin 5834 All birds going West hugging the ground out of the wind.
Dark-eyed Junco 72
Red-winged Blackbird 936
House Finch 240
Common Redpoll 6



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