Just Another Goshawk?

Today, Friday, April 25, 2013, was an absolutely delightful day to be atop the longshore dune for another bird flight.  Not wanting to stand around freezing again, this writer bundled up for another cold start.  Fortunately, a good southeast clip had kept the dunes from getting too cold last night.

The morning started mediocre.  Early radar returns show only a small movement occurred last night.  Blackbirds made up the majority of the early morning songbirds.  Also making an appearance was both Rusty and Brewer’s Blackbirds.  Just before 7am an early Lark Sparrow shot by going west in front of the counters.  An hour later, another Lark Sparrow was seen feeding at the seed pile on the platform entrance drive.  Within minutes of the second bird, a third Lark Sparrow flew in from the west and perched high in the nearby cottonwood tree.  It’s always hard to guess if one was from an hour ago, but we’ll be bold and claim an excellent count of 3 Lark Sparrows for the day.  This is one shy of the dunes area all time high count of four birds, which happened to be recorded right here at Dunes State Park.

1 of 3 Lark Sparrows seen for the day.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
1 of 3 Lark Sparrows seen for the day. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

By 9am, most of the passerine flight was weakening.  There was more exodus, then entry last night.  4,720 birds were logged today during a long passerine watch and subsequent hawk watch.  In a mix of old and new, 2 White-winged Scoters and 4 Red-throated Loons show some lingering early birds, while the first Blue Jay flight (only 32 birds!) gave hint of more to come in May.  The first significant goldfinch movement also was observed, with 109 undulating yellow specks.

114 bird of prey during a hawk-watch at Dunes State Park just enters the category of a good day.  Having the eclectic mix of raptors logged today makes for an excellent day.   Sharpies were moving by 9am this morning and by mid morning some buteos also started to enter the scene.  The lack of high, white stratus clouds were not completely ideal for picking out birds of prey, but enough to allow today’s counters to find them both low and high.

It’s an interesting day when a Northern Goshawk goes by in Indiana and it’s NOT an annual bird for the counters!  Shortly after 10am a giant accipiter suddenly appeared overhead.  With slow, but stiff beats, it made its way south and west and only when it was just about out of sight, it banked and returned!  Now heading north, it gained altitude in quick rising thermals and began soaring directly over the longshore dune.  A nearby Broad-winged Hawk attempted to thermal with the bird, but was quickly shown the door by the Goshawk with a quick stoop.  Minutes later a Peregrine Falcon would attempt to thermal by the Goshawk and was given a fierce pounce that sent it too on it’s way.  The sighting came quick, but experienced hawk watchers should be able to separate the Goshawk from the Broad-winged Hawk below.

Northern Goshawk and Broad-winged Hawk in same kettle above the Longshore Dune.  4/25/13.  Click for larger image.
Northern Goshawk and Broad-winged Hawk in same kettle above the Longshore Dune. 4/25/13. Click for larger image.
Heavily cropped and sharpened shot of distant N Goshawk.  4/25/13
Heavily cropped and sharpened shot of distant N Goshawk. 4/25/13

If the Goshawk wasn’t enough excitement, 9 Ospreys (including a vocalizing bird), 1 Merlin, 42 Sharpies, and 32 Red-tailed Hawks gave hawkwatchers plenty to see today.  It also helped elevate the season hawkwatch total to 2,117 birds… the highest season total in 20 years.  Check out the pale “Krider’s” Red-tailed Hawk caught briefly on video today too.

Though not seen yet in the dunes this year, we’ve began our annual accumulation of hummingbird feeders.  We hope to intercept as many migrating hummers as we can.  There’s a missing Bahama Woodstar somewhere!  If you visit, you’ll notice our feeders have had their toll of windswept dunes, scorching sun, and missing flower ports.  We’re always willing to take hummingbird feeder donations or sugar for that matter!  The park has 10 hummingbird feeders up currently, so donations always help!  See us at the high dune or Nature Center to donate.  Tell them it’s for the Dunes State Park and I bet our friend Chuck at Chesterton Feed and Garden will give you a discount!

2 of 6 hummer feeders sprinkled about the Longshore Birding Dune.  April 2013.
2 of 6 hummer feeders sprinkled about the Longshore Birding Dune. April 2013.

The list below rounds out the day’s highlights.  Tomorrow looks especially golden, as southwest winds will bring in good migrants, and hold through the morning.  Winds will be iffy, but still bringing in migrants Sunday and Monday.  Tuesday looks like another gangbuster day to visit.  Also below today’s highlights are some more photo gallery birds from today!

Highlights:
White-winged Scoter 2
Red-throated Loon 4
Common Loon 2
Horned Grebe 3
Great Egret 3
Osprey 9
Northern Harrier 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 42
Cooper’s Hawk 5
Northern Goshawk 1
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 5
Red-tailed Hawk 32
Rough-legged Hawk 2 (getting late)
Caspian Tern 45
Forster’s Tern 2
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3
Merlin 1
Blue Jay 32
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Lapland Longspur 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 10
American Tree Sparrow 1
Lark Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 6
Rusty Blackbird 2
Brewer’s Blackbird 2
Pine Siskin 5
American Goldfinch 109

Great-blue Heron seen today.  4/25/13
Great-blue Heron seen today. 4/25/13
Rough-legged Hawk today.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy John Kendall.
Rough-legged Hawk today. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy John Kendall.
White-throated Sparrow at the seed pile today.  4/25/13.  Photo courtesy Pete Grube.
White-throated Sparrow at the seed pile today. 4/25/13. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

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