Flames Up… Temperature Down…

Northeast winds today in the dunes.

Today, April 19, brought a stark contrast to the previous few days.  Clouds rolled in overnight, and morning lows generally failed to warm along the lakeshore, but as seen by the accompanying wind map, the angle and direction is everything.  Just farther south, winds being carried over land warmed areas south of here.  The mid-day temperature in Valparaiso was 73 degrees. The mid-day temperature in the state park was 48 degrees.  A northeast wind prevailed all day, putting the squash on any significant longshore flight.

Despite this, we still logged two new species for the year.  As often happens ahead of a cold front, a few shorebirds moved by.  The most notable was a pair of Dunlin that spent the better part of the entire morning directly in front of the tower site on the beach.  Farther west, our first Spotted Sandpiper made an appearance too.

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Dunlin on the beach this morning, 4/19/16.  Note the slight hint of black developing on it’s undersides.

Other notables in today’s small 23 species list included 3 tardy Common Mergansers, an excellent count of 30 Common Loons, and a lone Merlin.

In addition to weather, site conditions were a little different to start the day.  A pre-dawn fire in the old house that has sat for many years at the park’s border with the national park was involved in a fire today.  By dawn, the building was torched, with a good acre of marram grass up in flames near the tower. Fortunately, a planned fire line for an upcoming prescribed fire stopped it’s advance on the north wind.  But no doubt it would have been a big disappointment to see the tower site go up in flames had we had the usual west winds.

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Burned out area immediately west of the longshore tower.

Today’s full list is here.  Below is some video of today’s Dunlins.