The annual longshore flight count begins the second full week of March each year. That first week of March is usually still frozen in ice and more reminiscent of February. Like usual, March began again like expected. But in a turn of events, things have changed rapidly. Friday, March 6 ushered in the first of several southerly wind pushes that look to usher in a week long of warm air that will let the mercury soar to the 50s. Riding these south winds are migrating birds no doubt. The 23 days of below normal temperatures are a changing!
The 2015 longshore flight count was scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 9. On Friday, south winds began their push into the dunes. Despite temperatures starting below zero, things began to warm and never cooled. Today brought even higher temperatures and beautiful sunshine to melt the deep snowpack in the area. The winds even began to push apart the shelf ice on the lake.
While no major influx of birds were expected these first few days, the first signs of to come did start. Gulls, ducks, and longspurs began to arrive right on schedule. As birds continue to filter in from down south, the next few days holds real promise.
In two days of preseason counting, we tacked on 833 birds to begin the 2015 season. As you may recall 25,000 birds are needed to reach a four year total of 1 million birds. The Dunes Birding Festival Facebook page has been running a contest to vote on what species the 1 millionth bird would be. If you want to join in and win a possible prize, place your vote on their Facebook page or here in the comments. We’ll do a drawing of those that get the right species. Think hard about it though! What will you win. How about Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes, a bird festival magnet, bird festival bucket hat, and an Indiana Dunes State Park sticker. Not bad…!