River of Rusties

The return of south winds brought the return of the longshore flight today.  Technically, a flight count was conducted yesterday, but the near calm conditions created a strong on-shore lake wind that killed much of a chance for any significant flight.  After a dud of a day yesterday (not blogged), today showed much more promise.  SSE winds shifting to due south by 8am, with building winds. For the most part the forecast was correct and a diverse 63 species were counted, totaling 10,473 birds.  The only downside was the persistent cloud cover which tempered any ground warming which all but killed any hawkwatch that may have occurred.

As has been the case most of the season, waterfowl numbers were again low.  Even still, the diversity was good with both Surf and White-winged Scoters being logged.  Nice comparisons could be seen today of both Red-throated and Common Loons.

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Vesper Sparrow today, 3/30/16

In other birds, several new birds entered the state park for the longshore count today.  Highlights included Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Barn Swallow, and Vesper Sparrow.  The latter teeing up nicely in the nearby cottonwood to be seen by all that assisted today.  The flickers and sapsuckers were again on the move.  10 sapsuckers and 120 Northern Flickers went by.  If you’ve ever watched flickers move by the tower (vs blackbirds, jays, or robins) it was postulated today that flickers must somehow wait in line and carefully migrate so that there is always 100 yards between birds.  Once again the birds moved in single file.

The morning blackbird flight was another typical average-above average movement today.  Not so average was the abundance of Rusty Blackbirds today.  It was a literal river of rusties, as they mixed heavily with grackles this morning.  An incredible 746 Rusty Blackbirds were counted migrating past the tower site today.  They still were outnumbers 10:1 by the 7,185 Common Grackles.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at bird tower site.

The entire day’s list can be found here.  After tomorrow we’ll summarize the entire month’s total and compare with other years.  How close to 200,000 are we!?  One interesting aspect of this year’s count that can be measured on eBird is monitoring the season’s species list compared to other hotspots in Indiana.  Today’s 4 new species puts the Longshore Tower up to 115.  Goose Pond is at 101.  Eagle Creek Park is at 95.  Willow Slough FWA is 105.  Can you find one that is higher?  We should be able to match species even this far north with most of these sites.

What might this logo be placed on!?

Lastly, time is almost up if you want early bird rates for the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival.  Register before March 31 at midnight if you want in on the cheap rates!  In addition, many trips are filling up fast!.  There is some pretty cool swag being given away this year too to all participants!  The keynote dinner and silent auction are also filling up.  The IDBF is happy to support not one, but two organizations this year at it’s Keynote Silent Auction, Saturday, May 7. Half of all auction proceeds will go to support the Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and the new Westchester Bird Sanctuary.  If you have an item you’d like to donate to the silent auction, message Beth Dixon at dixonclass@hobart.k12.in.us.


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