Super Longshore Flight- April 6, 2013

Saturday, April 6 brought the strongest south wind of the season.  Like so many mornings this year, previous north wind days left the pre-dawn cold and chilly. Adding a strong wind, no matter what the direction, only made it colder.  Wind chills were the talk of the early hours.    By late afternoon, temperatures in the mid 60s alleviated the high winds, which were approaching 40mph.

The morning started slow.  Within the first 20 minutes it looked like the day was going to be a dud.  Slow passerine movements were going by, and few birds were moving on the lake.  By 7am, the robins began to move in good numbers.  Grackles and blackbirds would join them, but not until nearly 8am.  A long wait in dawn flight standards.  Robins would finish the day with a probable third state highest record of 5,252 birds.  Common Grackles finished second place today with 4,546.  This total gives us 30,000 grackles for the season.

Many new birds entered the dunes area today.  These include the season’s first Wild Turkey (actually flying through the beach lot!), Osprey, Pectoral Sandpiper, Purple Martin, Yellow-rumped Warbler,  Fox Sparrow, and Purple Finch.  The Purple Finches would also make their first appearance at the park Nature Center feeders today as well.  A clear influx of new birds today!

By mid morning, ducks were being logged migrating, swallows were slowly being ticked off (227 today),  Great-blue Herons were moving right overhead, and the not so anticipated hawk flight began.

1 of 24 Great-Blue Herons that would go by today.  4/6/13
1 of 24 Great-Blue Herons that would go by today. 4/6/13

Usual high wind days put a hamper on hawk flights as thermals being utilized by the birds of prey are literally sheered by the large gusts.  In strong winds some hawks do migrate, most typically the falcons and accipiters.  Today may have surprised more than a few folks when not only did a hawkflight occur, but it buteos were present as well.  214 raptors were counted through the afternoon.  The single highlight to talk about were the combined 103 American Kestrels seen today (94 through 4pm, 9 more additionally after 5pm).  Pending confirmation, the 94 seen will go down as the new single party state record.

Increasing clouds made finding raptors easy, but photographing a nightmare.  American Kestrel flyby today.
Increasing clouds made finding raptors easy, but photographing a nightmare. American Kestrel flyby today.

Below are the rest of today’s highlights.  12,654 individual birds.  250,000+ birds for the season so far.

Green-winged Teal  4
Greater Scaup  8
Lesser Scaup  28
White-winged Scoter  18
Wild Turkey  2     
Red-throated Loon  9
Common Loon  8
Great Blue Heron  24
Great Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  17
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  21
Sharp-shinned Hawk  14
Cooper’s Hawk  7
Bald Eagle  3
Red-shouldered Hawk  6
Red-tailed Hawk  38
Rough-legged Hawk  1
Sandhill Crane  36
Pectoral Sandpiper  66
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Caspian Tern  12
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  7
Northern Flicker  12
American Kestrel  103
Merlin  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  215
Barn Swallow  5
American Robin  5252    
Lapland Longspur  115
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Fox Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  886
Rusty Blackbird  22
Common Grackle  4546
Purple Finch  4
Common Redpoll  4     
Pine Siskin  1



2 thoughts on “Super Longshore Flight- April 6, 2013”

  1. I saw a wild turkey two days ago at Cowles Bog! I thought it was a hallucination at first, thanks for confirming it wasn’t. When are you out and can I join the count at some point?

    1. We count from the Trail 3 staircase at Dunes State Park, a walk through the west lot, from the main beach parking lot. We count on days of south wind generally, starting at dawn. the public is welcome to watch the flight or yell out birds as they go by.

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