Wind Block

Aside from the birding, another great feature for those that live on the southern rim of Lake Michigan is the mighty influence that 1,040 cubic miles of water has on the landscape. One really can’t take too much faith in the weather forecast anyway.  Wind shifts can warm or cool the land, bring unexpected rain or snow, as well as wash up a vagrant bird rarity.

A delayed rain forecast over night allowed for a night of strong south winds, with the bulk of the rain and front changing wind to arrive later Sunday afternoon.  Indeed, a nice warm air did greet the dawn.  Winds gusted right away and an early morning flight of birds began almost immediately down near the beach line.  Weather wise, what occurred next was intriguing. With the main cold front trailing through northern Illinois, the upper portion hit Lake Michigan and the colder air allowed it to, what the advanced meteorological discussion site said, “back-door down the Lake Michigan shore.”  At 11am, the dunes were plunged into the cold air over the lake.  Temperatures dropped from 72 degrees to 48 degrees in 2 minutes!  No rush of cold wind, but a rapid descent that was noticed by everyone around.  The cold air hit the warmer shoreline and fog developed that would shift and sway from the beach line with each passing wind.  Temperatures never really recovered and the flight was done.

Before the temperature would take a nose dive, 8,297 birds would be logged.  It was a good morning for new arrivals.  First appearances were made by Greater Yellowlegs, Chimney Swifts, Northern Mockingbird (rare up here), Vesper and Swamp Sparrows.  Another first appearance is not only the first for the season, but a first for the site… a flyby Snowy Egret!

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Pete Grube.
Yellow-rumped Warbler by Pete Grube.

Flickers will not stop!  629 more today now gives us 1,732 for the season.  Where else can you see over 1,000 Flickers in 3 days!  Over 100 Yellow-rumped Warblers is showing us that the early warblers are on the move.  Butter-butts for everyone in attendance.

Lastly of note, early morning joggers going down the sand trails of Trail 3 and the Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve were overhead yelling, “look,  an owl!”  A Short-eared Owl flushed from the grasses and made his/her way out over the lake with crows in pursuit.

Today’s count of 63 species gives us a new season total of 128 species.  More birds than most have seen in Indiana all year.  Helping Brendan today were Brad Bumgardner, John Kendall and Karen and Warren Leow.  Highlights below:

Great Blue Heron 14
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Osprey 1
Bald Eagle 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
American Woodcock 1
Short-eared Owl 1
Chimney Swift 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 26
Northern Flicker 629
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Merlin 2
Eastern Phoebe 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8
Northern Mockingbird 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 113
Vesper Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 2
Red-winged Blackbird 3608
Rusty Blackbird 1532 (possible tower high count)
Purple Finch 18


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