Craning Necks

Friday, March 13 was anything but spooky for the longshore count.  After a good night of south winds, early season waterfowl, early season passerines, and the first real crane flight would post the highest longshore flight of the season. Some 6,000+ birds would drift past the site today, nearly doubling the previous season high thus far.  61 species were seen today.

Though the shelf ice is still a good solid chunk, Dunes Creek is trying hard to punch a hole in it.  The rushing snow melt is piling up along the shore and will help to break it away from it’s footing.  Larger drift ice has now drifted substantially away from the shoreline, making waterfowl easier to see.  Today’s 18 species of waterfowl was a season high and included a nice eclectic mix, ranging from Long-tailed Duck, White-winged Scoter, to pintails and Green-winged Teal.  The appearance of the dabblers hints that some of the wetlands to the south of us must be thawing out.

Cranes drift over the bird observation tower as more are logged on the approach.  3/13/15.
Cranes drift over the bird observation tower as more are logged on the approach. 3/13/15.
20 earliest GREG sightings in the lakefront.  Courtesy Ken Brock.
20 earliest GREG sightings in the lakefront. Click to see larger image.  Courtesy Ken Brock.

Several new arrivals made it on the scene in today’s warmth.  The first Eastern Phoebe was confirmed, though suspected to have been in the area the last few days.  Even more noteworthy was a new lakefront record early date for Great Egret.  A lone bird was flying over the lake, beating the old spring record date by one day.  Click on the graph for the top twenty early record dates for Great Egrets.

By late morning, the first real crane flight took off.  In this first real movement, 847 flew past the site.  They no doubt enjoyed the south winds, but the winds were not strong enough to drive them to the beach for easy counting.  Most saw the imminent lake and turned west, but not before being seen by our stealth eyed counters.

For many days our male bluebird friends has staked out the nesting box right in front of the bird tower.  3/13/15.
For many days our male bluebird friends has staked out the nesting box right in front of the bird tower. 3/13/15.

Today’s full list is below.  The forecast for Saturday does not look promising (north winds), but the winds will shift quickly and build for a Sunday count, and more optimistically, a stellar Monday count.  1 million birds is not far away!

Canada Goose 126
Wood Duck 2
Gadwall 15
American Wigeon 6
Mallard 21
Northern Pintail 41
Green-winged Teal 1
Canvasback 28
Redhead 98
Ring-necked Duck 2
Lesser Scaup 250
White-winged Scoter 43
Long-tailed Duck 1
Bufflehead 21
Common Goldeneye 30
Common Merganser 3
Red-breasted Merganser 251
Red-throated Loon 3
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1 
Turkey Vulture 3
Bald Eagle 2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Sandhill Crane 847
Killdeer 82
American Woodcock 1 
Ring-billed Gull 233
Herring Gull 100
Great Black-backed Gull 6
Rock Pigeon 7
Mourning Dove 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Pileated Woodpecker 1
American Kestrel 2
Peregrine Falcon 1
Eastern Phoebe 1 
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 36
Horned Lark 18
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
American Robin 702
European Starling 395
Cedar Waxwing 17
Lapland Longspur 2
Snow Bunting 7
American Tree Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 2073
Eastern Meadowlark 3
Common Grackle 803
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 40

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