Another New Site Record!

A night of light southeast winds brought birders to the longshore count dune this morning, April 22, 2013.  The southeast component showed a lighter migration on the radar in Indiana than in Illinois overnight.  As the radar would indicate, the flight did not bring any new neo-tropic arrivals past the dune this morning.  There was however, a very noticeable exodus of birds.  Check the image below.  At sunset (seen in the west spike on the first image), birds picked up and began a wave over the lake, heading north.  The warming temperatures at dawn did however bring 6,666 birds over the beach, dune top, and prairie to the south.

Last night's evening exodus of birds from the dunes area over Lake Michigan.  4/21/13
Last night’s evening exodus of birds from the dunes area over Lake Michigan. 4/21/13

Today the sequester is delaying airline flights throughout the country.  The birds, using today’s beautiful clear skies, were using visual flight rules and dipped and dived around another strong blackbird movement that would account for the majority of today’s flight.  Blackbird flocks were brown today, as the sunshine clearly lit up the large numbers of female blackbirds now migrating through.

Turkey Vulture banking near the new birding platform, 4/22/13.
Turkey Vulture banking near the new birding platform, 4/22/13.

The highlight was obvious today, but before that, take note that it was the first longshore count of the year without White-winged Scoter.  We suspect they’re not done, but they might now be leaving the state after a record winter for them.  Replacing them over land was the 500th Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year.  They continue to dominate, but other warblers have yet to appear in the dunes.  Perhaps number 501 perished in the dunes overnight, as an unusual number of Turkey Vultures loomed near the count dune throughout the morning.  If you visit, I assure you we are all showered and don’t attract the vultures!

During a low hawk flight today (71 birds), the best bird of the day loafed over the Dunes State Park.  Providing only the fourth dunes area record (Brock code 9) and the first for our Longshore Flight Survey, a lone Black Vulture provided a quick thrill.  During the excitement a quick and somewhat grainy 7 second video was captured.  It’s not much, but enough to make out the distinct silhouette of a Black Vulture.  It’s white wing tips and short fanned tail can be seen in a few frames below.

Even better south winds are predicted for overnight.  Hopefully the rain holds off for one last good count before north winds enter again.  Here are today’s highlights:

Red-breasted Merganser 16
Red-throated Loon 4
Common Loon 7
Black Vulture 1 
Turkey Vulture 10
Osprey 6
Northern Harrier 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk 12
Cooper’s Hawk 5
Broad-winged Hawk 12
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 51
Pileated Woodpecker 1
American Kestrel 11
Peregrine Falcon 1
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 48
Brown Thrasher 1
Palm Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 41
Chipping Sparrow 61
Vesper Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 5
Red-winged Blackbird 4439
Rusty Blackbird 91
Common Grackle 1099
Pine Siskin 6


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