A Small Parliament of Owls

This morning’s longshore flight was delayed for a little while as some strong rain bands moved through the dunes area.  By 8am, the rain bands were starting to break up and was finally out of the area by 9am.  Even thought it hampered early migration, the rain was desperately needed in the area and was a welcome refresh.  The morning rain would help us today, as wet sand equals still sand, which means it’s not in our face and eyes!

After the rain left, the breeze would pick up and it was a crowded avian highway of birds zipping in both directions overhead.  Loose flocks dipped and dived around each other, creating difficulty in counting as mixed flocks had to be separated for the final count.

The strong southerly winds allowed for more new birds to arrive.   Though not the influx of yesterday, we did see the first Greater Yellowlegs, Cliff Swallow, N Rough-winged Swallow, and our first Chipping Sparrows.  While not on the official count, the park received its season’s first Lousiana Waterthrush down near Dunes Creek.

The first of three Long-eared Owls seen near the Green Tower site today, 4/8/13
The first of three Long-eared Owls seen near the Green Tower site today, 4/8/13

Always a highlight when found, today’s first Long-eared Owl were also logged today.  A nearby bird overlooking the south prairie area was first to be found.  Later, two birds were discovered, hidden in the Jack pines within a very short distance below the tower site.  If wind or rain prevents them from migrating, they may be around for birders to find tomorrow.

Harder to find, but most should easily see the two Long-eared Owls together .  4/8/13.
Harder to find, but most should easily see the two Long-eared Owls together . 4/8/13.

With any luck, we’ll surpass last year’s entire season total tomorrow!  How strange and different this year has been.  More highlights below:

Blue-winged Teal 4
Northern Shoveler 4
White-winged Scoter 4
Common Loon 10
Great Blue Heron 23
Great Egret 9
Osprey 1
Northern Harrier 13
Sharp-shinned Hawk 15
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 4
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Wilson’s Snipe 1
Long-eared Owl 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 7 (only 336 short of yesterday’s total!)
Northern Flicker 75
Merlin 3
Purple Martin 3
Tree Swallow 269
Barn Swallow 13
Cliff Swallow 1
American Robin 2081
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Chipping Sparrow 2
Field Sparrow 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
Fox Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco 49
Red-winged Blackbird 3730
Common Grackle 5482 
Purple Finch 6
Pine Siskin 2

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