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




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