Super Hawk Flight 2013

On April 15, 2012, an excellent hawk flight was enjoyed by many lakefront birders.  Partly due to an unexpected Broad-winged Hawk flight, as well as a new state record Merlin flight, this high count set forward a new era and renewed effort in hawk watches at the Indiana Dunes State Park.  An even more impressive May 1 flight brought in 336 raptors of 13 species.  The season ended with 1,837 diurnal birds of prey being counted.  It was the best hawk watching season here since 1992.  The hawk watch was reborn!

1 of 21 record breaking Osprey to migrate over the old green tower site today.  Photo by Pete Grube.
1 of 21 record breaking Osprey to migrate over the old green tower site today. Photo by Pete Grube.

Nearly one year from last year’s great hawk start, today, April 14, 2013, would usher in another great hawk watching season.  692 birds of prey of 13 species would be counted soaring over the dune in numbers not seen in decades if ever!  While official records are tentative, today’s counters found a combined total of 21 Osprey (new state record party count),  9 Bald Eagles (dunes area second highest count), 93 Northern Harriers (new state record count), 214 Sharp-shinned Hawks (state’s third highest count), 7 Merlin (fourth highest state count), and 222 Red-tailed Hawks (possible fourth highest state count!).  Red-tailed Hawks didn’t end there.  With a multitude of hawks going by it was inevitable that a diverse group of Red-tails would be seen.  No less than 7 dark morph Red-tails and a single intermediate/rufous Western Red-tail would be included in this high count.

Rufous Western Red-tailed Hawk flying over the high dunes today.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.  4/14/13
Rufous Western Red-tailed Hawk flying over the high dunes today. Photo courtesy Pete Grube. 4/14/13

Hawks were not the only flavor of the day.  There was not a big influx of new arrivals today, but several notable birds were logged throughout the day, and did include just a couple season firsts.  3 Long-tailed Ducks would add serious numbers to their season total. White-winged Scoters continue to be present.  Another Pacific Loon was logged, but quickly disappeared before most visitors could see it.  9 Broad-winged Hawks added to the hawk count and were also new for the season.  86 Flickers brings their season total to nearly 1,000.  30 more Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers show that their migration is far from done.  The first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was seen today.  The season’s best Yellow-rumped Warbler flight watched over 75 birds go by.  Still no other warblers though.

The season's first Broad-winged Hawk was a welcome sight.  Photo by photographer extraordinaire Pete Grube.  4/14/13
The season’s first Broad-winged Hawk was a welcome sight. Photo by photographer extraordinaire Pete Grube. 4/14/13

The day ended with 3,450 individual birds; the highest in about a week.  The day was also the longest official hawk watch ever done at the dunes, with 9.5 hours logged watching hawks.  Winds were easterly, shifting more southerly as the day went on.  With strong south winds overnight, we expect a good push tomorrow morning, particularly in the new season arrival department.  We may greet our first warbler diversity, gnatcatchers, kingbirds, swallows, and more tomorrow.

Here are today’s unedited total highlights:
Blue-winged Teal 8
Green-winged Teal 4
White-winged Scoter 8
Long-tailed Duck 3

Red-throated Loon 25
Pacific Loon 1
Common Loon 5
Great Egret 7
Turkey Vulture 49
Osprey 21
Northern Harrier 93
Sharp-shinned Hawk 214
Cooper’s Hawk 19
Bald Eagle 9
Red-shouldered Hawk 15
Broad-winged Hawk 9
Red-tailed Hawk 222
Rough-legged Hawk 1
Sandhill Crane 334
Bonaparte’s Gull 40
Caspian Tern 220
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 30
Northern Flicker 86
American Kestrel 28
Merlin 7
Peregrine Falcon 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 16
Purple Martin 4
Brown Creeper 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 11
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
Eastern Bluebird 13
American Robin 280
Lapland Longspur 23
Yellow-rumped Warbler 78
Chipping Sparrow 11
Vesper Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 420
Eastern Meadowlark 3
Pine Siskin 3

Longshore Flight birding crew today including always welcome assistance from the SAS Audubon Chapter birders led by Jim and Susan Hengeveld.  4/14/13
Longshore Flight birding crew today including always welcome assistance from the SAS Audubon Chapter birders led by Jim and Susan Hengeveld. 4/14/13

Lake Erie birders… eat our dust!

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