Butterbutts Blowing in the Breeze!

As predicted last night, strong south winds fed a stream of birds into the dunes overnight.  By dawn, the winds were stiff and strong, feeling far stronger than the 10-20mph that was predicted for today.  We almost felt concerned for our Longshore Platform construction workers who are laying the outer ring of the platform decking in the strong wind.

One of many Bluejays to cruise past the dunes today.  4/30/13.
One of many Bluejays to cruise past the dunes today. 4/30/13.

The day started early with the usual first dawn blackbird movement.  Within an hour after sunrise, the Blue Jay flight had begun, even stronger than yesterday.  Even our labor staff working on the platform were in awe of the giant flocks of jays going by, right over their heads.  1,660 jays were recorded today.  Even though impressive, it wasn’t the Blue Jays that dropped jaws today.

Jay flock moving overhead.  4/30/13.
Jay flock moving overhead. 4/30/13.

Unexpected in such breezy conditions, hoards of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, and tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatchers fought the wind as they crested each dune top in their way.  During certain gusts, gnatcatchers seemed motionless in the air, available to grab right out of the sky.  Two years ago in similar winds, Yellow-rumps staged their largest flight in the state when 2,823 birds were counted from this same location.  We nearly matched it again today when 1,967 butterbutts were today.  This is the state’s third highest count of Yellow-rumped Warblers and has come close nowhere else in the state.  If the butterbutts were impressive, check out our Palm Warbler count… 449!  This is a new state high count and smashes the previous 301 out of the water.  A record that has held for nearly a decade.  You can guess where the previous record was broken at!  Folks on local listserves today are posting that they saw a Palm or Yellow-rumped while birding.  Yeah, we saw one too!

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fighting the wind today.  4/30/13.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fighting the wind today. 4/30/13.

Normally the above highlights would make for a good day of birding the Indiana Dunes.  In fact, it was enough to draw interest from the local ABC 57.  They reportedly will be running a story on the massive Blue Jay flight on their local news.    But, hold on!  Add these specialties to today’s full list: 2 Red-throated Loons, 2 Merlins, 445 Chimney Swifts (spring top 10 count!), 2 Smith’s Longspurs seen at short range, 5 Nashville Warblers, a Scarlet Tanager, 3 singing Henslow’s Sparrows, a Blue Grosbeak, an impressive 24 Baltimore Orioles. and a very large late count of 121 Pine Siskins!

Migrating Baltimore Oriole. 4/30/13
Migrating Baltimore Oriole. 4/30/13

The day ended warm and windy.  8,931 birds in the bag, 360,000+ for March and April.  May 1 begins a new season and more birds.  We’ve already logged 167 species this year.  Another ideal south wind blows overnight.  Tomorrow should be another outstanding day.  Will it rival today?  We’ll find out soon enough!

Once again, the major highlights from today follow:

Wild Turkey 1
Red-throated Loon 2
Great Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 21
Osprey 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 6
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Solitary Sandpiper 12
American Woodcock 4
Forster’s Tern 2
Chimney Swift 445
Merlin 2
Peregrine Falcon 2
Eastern Kingbird 55
Blue Jay 1660 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 85 
Eastern Bluebird 25
American Pipit 53
Lapland Longspur 16
Smith’s Longspur 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Nashville Warbler 5
Cape May Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 6
Palm Warbler 449 
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1967
Black-throated Green Warbler 3
Henslow’s Sparrow 3 
White-throated Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 2 (Nature Center invaded with them too today!)
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Blue Grosbeak 1
Orchard Oriole 2
Baltimore Oriole 24
Purple Finch 28
Pine Siskin 121 

The mid-morning birding spread.  Scope, binoculars, caffeine, banana, checklist and clickers, and a video camera to catch that rare bird!
The mid-morning birding spread. Scope, binoculars, caffeine, banana, checklist and clickers, and a video camera to catch that rare bird!

A Longshore Flight Addendum:
In the time since we published today’s longshore flight update some great info has come in. Last year we introduced the Grube Magnitude Index.    It basically creates a value for each bird seen that is a usual migrant.  The more we see, the higher the value.  The index total gives a sense of the total longshore flight by species diversity and abundance.  To stop one species dominating a count, each species is limited to a index value of 10.  Generally, the higher magnitude index means more birds and more species, which also translates to a more enjoyable birding experience.  The index was developed by Ken Brock and has seen several changes.  We’ve been notified that today’s count index had a Grube Magnitude of 80.25, with 41 standard species recorded. It is the second best flight ever, by a minuscule margin.  Great news and a reflection of the great day we had.  If Blue Jays had really taken off…

Finally, here’s a little gallery of great photos shared to us by our great local photographer Pete Grube.

Yellow-rumped Warbler seen today.  4/30/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
Yellow-rumped Warbler seen today. 4/30/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
Orange-crowned Warbler seen today.  4/30/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
Orange-crowned Warbler seen today. 4/30/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
Palm Warbler seen today.  4/30/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
Palm Warbler seen today. 4/30/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

 

Little Bits of Blue

With lingering fog burning off and high humidity, today looked to be a much different weather day in the dunes.  Highs hit 70 degrees and a light southerly breeze made it actually feel hot by mid day.  It was hot enough that among first season birds, the beach filled with the first bikinis and sunbathers.  Swimming in the lake was another story (water is 39 degrees currently!).

Northern Mockingbird at Longshore Platform this spring.  They are becoming more common in the area.
Northern Mockingbird at Longshore Platform this spring. They are becoming more common in the area.

A good mix, including 76 species, traversed the high dunes today for counters.  Total count consisted of 3,288 individual birds (season total now over 350,000 birds!).  Even while the count was going on, other birders were making their way along the park’s trails, boardwalks, and at the Nature Center.  We talked to a couple birders from out of state, looking to scratch their birding itch while traveling cross country.  Many yellow-rumps are still dominating the area.  The longshore dune only received a couple new species.  With the current wing map, conditions look prime for the best neotropic invasion of the season so far on Tuesday and likely Wednesday.

Wind map from Monday evening, April 29,2013.  Image from http://hint.fm/wind/
Wind map from Monday evening, April 29,2013. Image from http://hint.fm/wind/

Today began the first significant flight of Blue Jays.  Most folks don’t think of Blue Jays as migratory birds, but massive flocks move over the dunes typically around May 1 and lasts two weeks.  Peak flights will measure 3,000-5,000 birds.  Today, 902 Blue Jays flew over. It was also a big movement of tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  39 gnatcatchers migrated past today, accounting for a new spot on the dunes area top 10 count for gnatcatchers.  Rounding out the blue colored birds, 3 Great-blue Herons, 1 Indigo Bunting, and 4 Eastern Bluebirds went past.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female) at the Dunes State Park feeders today.  4/29/13
Red-bellied Woodpecker (female) at the Dunes State Park feeders today. 4/29/13

An interesting movement occurred today with Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Usually, the red-bellied woodpecker is not considered a migratory bird. Due of the recent expansion of their breeding range, many Red-bellied are showing more migratory behavior during the coldest months of the year, moving south to the milder locations within their breeding territory over the winter.  Researchers speculate this behavior is linked to climate change and the abundance of food available from bird feeders.  Today, 16 went by, nearly doubling the season’s total.

Today’s other highlights are below.  Don’t forget to visit the birding dune or Nature Center for your free Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes book.

Blue-winged Teal 4
Red-breasted Merganser 97
Red-throated Loon 12 (still migrating!)
Common Loon 4
Osprey 1
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Broad-winged Hawk 5
Wilson’s Snipe 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 16
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
Warbling Vireo 1
Blue Jay 902
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 39
Brown Thrasher 5 (one loud migratory group)
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11
Lark Sparrow 1 (season’s fifth bird!)
White-throated Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco 9
Pine Siskin 2

Weekend Wrap Up

FOG!
FOG!

This past weekend wasn’t quite what we expected.  Well, half the weekend wasn’t what we had anticipated.  Saturday looked to be good.  There was a decent overnight flight seen on the radar, but dawn conditions spoke otherwise.  Saturday’s flight was nearly dead.  Counters waited several hours, anxiously waiting for a late flight to get started.  Dawn was promising with the song of multiple migrating Henslow’s Sparrows in the Trail 3 prairie south of the longshore site.  A quick Indigo Bunting and Ruby-throated Hummingbird just after dawn also gave promise.  By 10am, all counters had thrown in the towel for the day and birded sites south in search of spring migration.

Sunday, however was expected to be quiet.  Forecasted north winds would bring colder lake water over the warming dunes, resulting in fog.  Fog came as promised.  No birds.

Predicting the next couple days will be tricky, but in essence, here’s our forecast.  A dense fog advisory is in place for the Lake Michigan coastline through 4am.  Winds shift after midnight.  This shift will help move the fog back off shore.  Monday morning may be interesting in terms of new arriving birds, in addition to existing birds not being able to migrate out overnight.  Monday could be both a good day for a longshore flight, as well as birding inland areas of the park.  Tuesday should also be very good.  With stronger winds, we’ll be watching what kind of hawkwatch also develops.  With late April and early May, no matter the wind speeds, lots of birds are migrating!

 

 

 

 

Just Another Goshawk?

Today, Friday, April 25, 2013, was an absolutely delightful day to be atop the longshore dune for another bird flight.  Not wanting to stand around freezing again, this writer bundled up for another cold start.  Fortunately, a good southeast clip had kept the dunes from getting too cold last night.

The morning started mediocre.  Early radar returns show only a small movement occurred last night.  Blackbirds made up the majority of the early morning songbirds.  Also making an appearance was both Rusty and Brewer’s Blackbirds.  Just before 7am an early Lark Sparrow shot by going west in front of the counters.  An hour later, another Lark Sparrow was seen feeding at the seed pile on the platform entrance drive.  Within minutes of the second bird, a third Lark Sparrow flew in from the west and perched high in the nearby cottonwood tree.  It’s always hard to guess if one was from an hour ago, but we’ll be bold and claim an excellent count of 3 Lark Sparrows for the day.  This is one shy of the dunes area all time high count of four birds, which happened to be recorded right here at Dunes State Park.

1 of 3 Lark Sparrows seen for the day.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
1 of 3 Lark Sparrows seen for the day. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

By 9am, most of the passerine flight was weakening.  There was more exodus, then entry last night.  4,720 birds were logged today during a long passerine watch and subsequent hawk watch.  In a mix of old and new, 2 White-winged Scoters and 4 Red-throated Loons show some lingering early birds, while the first Blue Jay flight (only 32 birds!) gave hint of more to come in May.  The first significant goldfinch movement also was observed, with 109 undulating yellow specks.

114 bird of prey during a hawk-watch at Dunes State Park just enters the category of a good day.  Having the eclectic mix of raptors logged today makes for an excellent day.   Sharpies were moving by 9am this morning and by mid morning some buteos also started to enter the scene.  The lack of high, white stratus clouds were not completely ideal for picking out birds of prey, but enough to allow today’s counters to find them both low and high.

It’s an interesting day when a Northern Goshawk goes by in Indiana and it’s NOT an annual bird for the counters!  Shortly after 10am a giant accipiter suddenly appeared overhead.  With slow, but stiff beats, it made its way south and west and only when it was just about out of sight, it banked and returned!  Now heading north, it gained altitude in quick rising thermals and began soaring directly over the longshore dune.  A nearby Broad-winged Hawk attempted to thermal with the bird, but was quickly shown the door by the Goshawk with a quick stoop.  Minutes later a Peregrine Falcon would attempt to thermal by the Goshawk and was given a fierce pounce that sent it too on it’s way.  The sighting came quick, but experienced hawk watchers should be able to separate the Goshawk from the Broad-winged Hawk below.

Northern Goshawk and Broad-winged Hawk in same kettle above the Longshore Dune.  4/25/13.  Click for larger image.
Northern Goshawk and Broad-winged Hawk in same kettle above the Longshore Dune. 4/25/13. Click for larger image.
Heavily cropped and sharpened shot of distant N Goshawk.  4/25/13
Heavily cropped and sharpened shot of distant N Goshawk. 4/25/13

If the Goshawk wasn’t enough excitement, 9 Ospreys (including a vocalizing bird), 1 Merlin, 42 Sharpies, and 32 Red-tailed Hawks gave hawkwatchers plenty to see today.  It also helped elevate the season hawkwatch total to 2,117 birds… the highest season total in 20 years.  Check out the pale “Krider’s” Red-tailed Hawk caught briefly on video today too.

Though not seen yet in the dunes this year, we’ve began our annual accumulation of hummingbird feeders.  We hope to intercept as many migrating hummers as we can.  There’s a missing Bahama Woodstar somewhere!  If you visit, you’ll notice our feeders have had their toll of windswept dunes, scorching sun, and missing flower ports.  We’re always willing to take hummingbird feeder donations or sugar for that matter!  The park has 10 hummingbird feeders up currently, so donations always help!  See us at the high dune or Nature Center to donate.  Tell them it’s for the Dunes State Park and I bet our friend Chuck at Chesterton Feed and Garden will give you a discount!

2 of 6 hummer feeders sprinkled about the Longshore Birding Dune.  April 2013.
2 of 6 hummer feeders sprinkled about the Longshore Birding Dune. April 2013.

The list below rounds out the day’s highlights.  Tomorrow looks especially golden, as southwest winds will bring in good migrants, and hold through the morning.  Winds will be iffy, but still bringing in migrants Sunday and Monday.  Tuesday looks like another gangbuster day to visit.  Also below today’s highlights are some more photo gallery birds from today!

Highlights:
White-winged Scoter 2
Red-throated Loon 4
Common Loon 2
Horned Grebe 3
Great Egret 3
Osprey 9
Northern Harrier 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 42
Cooper’s Hawk 5
Northern Goshawk 1
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 5
Red-tailed Hawk 32
Rough-legged Hawk 2 (getting late)
Caspian Tern 45
Forster’s Tern 2
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3
Merlin 1
Blue Jay 32
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Lapland Longspur 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 10
American Tree Sparrow 1
Lark Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 6
Rusty Blackbird 2
Brewer’s Blackbird 2
Pine Siskin 5
American Goldfinch 109

Great-blue Heron seen today.  4/25/13
Great-blue Heron seen today. 4/25/13
Rough-legged Hawk today.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy John Kendall.
Rough-legged Hawk today. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy John Kendall.
White-throated Sparrow at the seed pile today.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
White-throated Sparrow at the seed pile today. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

Another New Site Record!

A night of light southeast winds brought birders to the longshore count dune this morning, April 22, 2013.  The southeast component showed a lighter migration on the radar in Indiana than in Illinois overnight.  As the radar would indicate, the flight did not bring any new neo-tropic arrivals past the dune this morning.  There was however, a very noticeable exodus of birds.  Check the image below.  At sunset (seen in the west spike on the first image), birds picked up and began a wave over the lake, heading north.  The warming temperatures at dawn did however bring 6,666 birds over the beach, dune top, and prairie to the south.

Last night's evening exodus of birds from the dunes area over Lake Michigan.  4/21/13
Last night’s evening exodus of birds from the dunes area over Lake Michigan. 4/21/13

Today the sequester is delaying airline flights throughout the country.  The birds, using today’s beautiful clear skies, were using visual flight rules and dipped and dived around another strong blackbird movement that would account for the majority of today’s flight.  Blackbird flocks were brown today, as the sunshine clearly lit up the large numbers of female blackbirds now migrating through.

Turkey Vulture banking near the new birding platform, 4/22/13.
Turkey Vulture banking near the new birding platform, 4/22/13.

The highlight was obvious today, but before that, take note that it was the first longshore count of the year without White-winged Scoter.  We suspect they’re not done, but they might now be leaving the state after a record winter for them.  Replacing them over land was the 500th Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year.  They continue to dominate, but other warblers have yet to appear in the dunes.  Perhaps number 501 perished in the dunes overnight, as an unusual number of Turkey Vultures loomed near the count dune throughout the morning.  If you visit, I assure you we are all showered and don’t attract the vultures!

During a low hawk flight today (71 birds), the best bird of the day loafed over the Dunes State Park.  Providing only the fourth dunes area record (Brock code 9) and the first for our Longshore Flight Survey, a lone Black Vulture provided a quick thrill.  During the excitement a quick and somewhat grainy 7 second video was captured.  It’s not much, but enough to make out the distinct silhouette of a Black Vulture.  It’s white wing tips and short fanned tail can be seen in a few frames below.

Even better south winds are predicted for overnight.  Hopefully the rain holds off for one last good count before north winds enter again.  Here are today’s highlights:

Red-breasted Merganser 16
Red-throated Loon 4
Common Loon 7
Black Vulture 1 
Turkey Vulture 10
Osprey 6
Northern Harrier 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk 12
Cooper’s Hawk 5
Broad-winged Hawk 12
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 51
Pileated Woodpecker 1
American Kestrel 11
Peregrine Falcon 1
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 48
Brown Thrasher 1
Palm Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 41
Chipping Sparrow 61
Vesper Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 5
Red-winged Blackbird 4439
Rusty Blackbird 91
Common Grackle 1099
Pine Siskin 6

Longshore Flight, April 21, 2013

Today, April 21, was downright cold at dawn!  With thermometers recording well below 32 degrees, it felt nothing like a late April morning should feel.  Last night’s shift of east winds to southeast never materialized in time. From forecast to actual, there was about a 6-8 hour lag time.  Winds began to drift southeast around 8am.  The full south winds are just now entering the area,  and it does look like we are in store for some prime migrating winds tonight!  Several new arrivals should grace the dunes area tomorrow!

a Yellow-rumped Warbler's spots blends in among the flowering spice bush.  4/21/13
a Yellow-rumped Warbler’s spots blends in among the flowering spice bush. 4/21/13

Since the winds never shifted in time, many of the birds that were here continued to stay today.   In the park, Hermit Thrushes, kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warblers continue to dominate the park roads and trails.  They’re feeding heavy over the wetlands at the Wilson boardwalk.  A Northern Parula was reported among the butterbutts today.

The longshore flight failed to properly materialize.  Most passerines only flew by in low numbers.  Two new birds were found today.  The first being a long overdue Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Given last fall’s decent flight, we expect many more to move through in May.  Far rarer, and only seen by a few people…  A Lark Sparrow.  A few are recorded from the longshore dune each spring. Hopefully more will be enjoyed soon.

A moderate hawk flight took placed today.  The easterly winds pushed the birds towards the lake and 213 birds of prey were ticked off.  Any hawkflight over 100 is worth reporting.    As usual Red-tailed Hawks (66) and Sharp-shinned Hawks (54) led the day.  34 Broad-winged Hawks were also worth noting.

sarah nimetz
Dunes area record early Summer Tanager. 4/21/13. Photo courtesy Sarah Nimetz.

The bird of the day was not found at the longshore platform, but just a few miles from the state park.  The DNR’s beautiful Morraine Nature Preserve has itself hosted notable bird species before.  The current caretakers call it very birdy right now, and for good reason.  The photo above was taken there today, but our Summer Tanager friend has been here since Friday, April 19.  The previous dunes area record early date is April 24, set back in 1992.  A new early record date has been set.  After you’ve birded the dunes, consider visiting Morraine too.

With migration in high gear, especially the next two nights, consider stepping outside and taking advantage of the near full moon.  On good migration nights you can view the migrating birds going by the moon with binoculars, but preferably a spotting scope or telescope.  With a full moon on Thursday and clouds coming later in the week, tonight and tomorrow night may be prime nights to witness the migration going on at night. Check out the video below for an example.


The rest of today’s highlights follow (as well as an extra bonus critter at the Wilson boardwalk today!).

White-winged Scoter 2
Black Scoter 2
Red-throated Loon 56
Common Loon 13
Osprey 6
Northern Harrier 23
Sharp-shinned Hawk 54
Bald Eagle 6
Broad-winged Hawk 34
Red-tailed Hawk 66
Sandhill Crane 193
Merlin 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Palm Warbler 7
Pine Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 16
Chipping Sparrow 39
Vesper Sparrow 1
Lark Sparrow 1 
Swamp Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 15
Red-winged Blackbird 2606
Rusty Blackbird 10
Common Redpoll 3
Pine Siskin 1

Muskrat in the park swamp today.  4/21/13
Muskrat in the park swamp today. 4/21/13

 

 

The Longshore Flight and IN Dunes Tourism

Today (April 19th, 2013) the dunes were whip-lashed back to winter.  Highs failed to reach 40 degrees and sporadic snow, or what the meteorologists were called graupel, was in the day off and on.  The day was not ideal for a longshore flight, and as expected, none occurred.  Tomorrow also looks poor, as winds shift even more northerly.  By Sunday morning things should be moving again.  Monday looks very good, and may bring in a good influx of new birds.  Tuesday looks again to be ideal, with opportunities for birds to be grounded as more precipitation enters the area.  So, we’ll use the next 24 hours to catch up on sleep and start the next week fresh.  Join us.

penny water

Within the dunes area however, birds are present.  I believe many of the migrants being seen south of us simply did not make it here during the last strong south push due to storms centered over the south shore of the lake.  This RADAR composite shows the rain over us when most of the night’s migration occurred on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  Hermit Thrushes and Yellow-rumped Warblers are currently dominating the wooded areas behind the high dunes.  A Yellow Warbler was seen on the Wilson Boardwalk, and NIMBA volunteers cleaned up the Prothonotary Warbler boxes and cleared the views for hopefully another successful breeding season.  Last year, birders could actually see her inside incubating from her entrance hole.

Evening Grosbeaks in the Dunes from last November.  Not the ones seen today!
Evening Grosbeaks in the Dunes from last November. Not the ones seen today!

The best birds of the day were not neo-tropical migrants, but a taste of the fall finch invasion of last November.  Our counter, Brendan, found 3 Evening Grosbeaks visiting a feeder in Beverly Shores.  This feeder station, at the intersection of Idler and St. Clair also hosted Western Tanager a few years back.  It’s a good luck station.  Given the north winds tomorrow, they may stick for birders wanting to see them… again.

On Tuesday, April 23, a group of local birders will be meeting together with Indiana Dunes Tourism.  The Porter County Tourism, or Indiana Dunes Tourism, is one of the most successful local, county tourisms in the state.  Our tourism agency is recognizing the value of bird eco-tourism.  They no doubt want a piece of that pie.  It’s also good business for birders.  Any birder familiar with the Patagonia Effect knows that having other good birders in the area only leads to more and more birds to be seen or chased.

The recent Outdoor Indiana is helping to promote dunes area birding.
The recent Outdoor Indiana is helping to promote dunes area birding.

What needs done to further promote the area for birding?  Our longshore flight is re-enforcing what we already know; the Indiana dunes are the best birding site in Indiana and arguably among the top three birding sites in the Great Lakes.  If you have ideas, let us know before Tuesday.  We’ll share what others tell us at the upcoming meeting.

Brock's Birds of Indiana Dunes.  A great resource, whether in the book form or revised CD format.
Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes. A great resource, whether in the book form or revised CD format.

We already have several great resources.  We have great birding locations, great birds to be seen in all the seasons, a growing enthusiasm for birding in the area, and an already healthy base of expert, local birders who live here.  The most noted is Ken Brock, whose book and CD series is a standard for any dunes area birder’s bookshelf.    In here, there is much more info  than just ID of birds.  Here, you can find out when and where to find birds in the Dunes.  Check high counts, early arrival dates, it’s got a wealth of dunes birding info.  Want to know when the orioles or hummingbirds come back… check the guide.  Here, thousands of bird records are put through the statistical wringer and set out for us to enjoy.

Using Brock’s overall data, we know that spring warbler migration statistically peaks on May 13.  While weather will change the actual date year to year, it’s a good gauge of overall migration.  To help our county tourism kick off a greater promotion of dunes area birding, we’re offering a special deal.  For every birder who visits the longshore tower during one of our counts or visits the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center, you can have your own free copy of Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes, second edition book!  This deal has an expiration and it’s the date of our peak warbler migration.  It expires May 13!  Come birding at the tower and get a copy from Brendan or Brad or ask for a free copy at the Nature Center (better have your binoculars to prove you’re a birder!).  Thanks to the Shirley Heinze Land Trust for providing the extra books.

We’ll see you birding the dunes this spring season!