As you can see from the photo above, the morning prospect was not very good shortly after dawn today. Thick fog enveloped the lakeshore, extending into Chesterton and the rest of the region. From the creamy soup, a bright ball of light could be seen rising and it didn’t take long to raise the temperatures a few degrees, resulting in a improving viewing conditions. The counters simply birded the immediate grounds around the tower in search of feeding birds, roosting owls, and general nature viewing. From high above you could hear the call notes of migrating blackbirds and grackles. These birds must have found the upper limit of the fog and were enjoying smooth sailing. Winds were light but from a favorable southerly direction.
As the fog lifted, it was possible to begin counting birds. How much went by without seeing is unknown. What is known is 3,445 birds were logged during the longshore flight for today, March 12. It was a season high 60 species for the morning. As has been the case lately, waterfowl were in good variety, but low numbers. White-winged Scoters were back up with 48 being seen. 4 Surf Scoters flew past, including two adult males showing their “skunk-headed coot” features. Another early Blue-winged Teal was on the lake for many to see, and a lone Canvasback rounded out the highlights on the water.
By mid-morning an entire contingent of who’s who of lakefront birding was assisting with the count. Distant raptors, cranes, and blackbirds continued through late morning. Another 1,036 Sandhill Cranes flew past, thus proving that the Kankakee bottomlands aren’t completely empty of cranes. 1,300 blackbirds were the other high counters, but occasional Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and pipits were mixed in.
Other highlights consisted of Tree Swallows and an Eastern Phoebe. Two Pileated Woodpeckers were a nice treat to see fly by at eye level from the tower. For today’s complete list, visit here.