Winter officially began yesterday, Saturday, December 21. The solstice, the shortest day of the year, began at 11:11am local time. While winter will settle in, the days will get longer, and chances to see birds will increase! Especially so for those stuck working until the sun sets currently. We’ve certainly been feeling winter’s early chill lately. It’s been quite different than the very mild December we experienced last year. Not only the cold, but the early snow, and the early growing shelf ice.
You can usually expect that when winter arrives, the results and compilations of the previous season are finally together and published. It is always interesting to see what rare birds were seen, what lingering bird broke a record for being tardier than his nest mates. What birds were seen that you never knew about!?
Ken Brock, the well known “birdman of the dunes“, works hard to compile every bird sighting on the lakefront. These reports come from first hand accounts, the popular eBird database, and online reports from places such as the Birding Indiana Facebook group. The report is now online in it’s full form, but here’s some of the highlights folks may be interested in.
Redhead:- A superb longshore flight of (1615) at Miller Beach on 23 November (John K. Cassady, Jeffrey J. McCoy, John C. Kendall et al.) elevated the season total to a record 3455.
Harlequin Duck:– Two immature males or females were found at Michigan City Harbor on 3 November (Jeffrey J. McCoy), but Brendan J. Grube added a third Harley to this group four days later. Brendan and Brad Bumgardner also had a flyby singleton at Dunes State Park on 12 November.
White-faced Ibis:– On 17 October John C. Kendall and Edward M. Hopkins detected the
red eyes of (3) adults at Long Lake, providing a first record for Porter Co.
Bald Eagle:– Lakefront birders logged the largest fall count on record. A total of 19 were reported during the autumn flight.
Lesser Sand Plover:– A first record for Indiana was established 15 October when Brendan J Grube discovered a plover, unlike any he had ever seen, on the beach at Michigan City Harbor. The bird quickly flew to the harbor’s outer breakwall, where it remained for about three hours.
Black-legged Kittiwake:– Lakefront birders enjoyed the best flight in three years. For the season some 26 Kittiwakes were reported.
Golden-winged Warbler:- Lakefront birders enjoyed the best flight in 13 years with 12 Golden-wingeds reported during the autumn flight.
Snow Bunting:– Highlighted by the (630) birds that John C. Kendall logged at Portage Lakefront Park and Michigan City Harbor on 24 November, the fall of 2013 proved to be a fine season for Snow Buntings with 2659 reported.