More North Wind Migration

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 brought the 14th official longshore flight of the spring season.  In an attempt to capitalize on some north wind migration observed last week, a morning flight count was attempted today.  Yesterday brought a stiff, cold north breeze.  Conditions today were similar, but with gusts not as high.  The sun was bright and full, warming the area and offsetting any cold breeze.

A new feature of the longshore flight that we have learned this year is that during the first hour of dawn large flocks of migrating passerines move parallel to the lake.  But, instead of flying over the high dunes, these birds are nearly one mile south of the count site.  Though difficult to watch over the lake, over the dunes, and in the prairie areas at the same time, by observing the far areas south of the count site we’re able to significantly add to the total flight moving by.  These large flocks are even being seen on north winds.  It makes sense that these birds have the restlessness to migrate, but avoid the direct wind coming off of the lake.

A sunny, yet cool day for some longshore bird counting.  April 2, 2013.
A sunny, yet cool day for some longshore bird counting. April 2, 2013.

Today, under a northwest wind, 15,209 individual birds took wing over the dunes.   Most of these were early blackbirds (9,964), but 1,656 American Robins also migrated early in the morning.  A season high 802 cowbirds also came through the dunes.   No new birds were logged for the year.  Other daily highlights included, 9 White-winged Scoters, 9 Red-throated Loons, 1 Bald Eagle, 26 Lapland Longspurs, and a single Common Redpoll.

Our expectations for the rest of the week include another morning of north winds for Wednesday.  But with lighter winds, there may be some dawn movement.  Thursday brings the next forecasted south winds.  Another 20,000+ bird day could be in order.  A quick shift to the north will bring a colder day Friday, but south winds are forecasted back in the dunes for Saturday.  Thursday and Saturday look to be the best mornings for migration.  As April goes by, diversity will increase, as well as the morning temperature!

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