Today, March 5 marked the official start of the 6th annual Indiana Dunes longshore flight survey. In typical fashion, waterfowl and gulls made up the most diversity this morning. Some 15 species of waterfowl were recorded going by. Viewing was difficult due to strong gales from atop the tower. But the winds brough a balmy 60 degrees for early March. A 30 degree temperature change from the start! Most of the counting this morning occured from the staircase below the tower due to the winds. We did log 48 species though, with a total count of 7,067 birds. Here’s what we found:
As mentioned above, waterfowl were the most diverse taxa today. However, none were in real high numbers. We don’t expect to see any record breaking waterfowl season, given that most of the largest lakes never froze and many waterfowl probably wintered north of us. Highlights in waterfowl consisted of 4 Greater White-fronted Geese, 2 Tundra Swans, 37 shovelers, 3 White-winged Scoters, and 10 Red-throated Loons.
Sandhill Cranes greeted the first day of official counting with another large flight. 5,197 birds passed over the tower. Many started close to the lakefront just after 9:30am, but soon the strong winds broke up many thermals, and birds began fighting the wind and were harder to see south of the tower. It’s likely the wind sheer broke up any late morning thermals, resulting in very little hawk movement. But, 3 Bald Eagles are worth noting.
Rounding out the day’s notables were 666 American Robins, only 105 Blackbirds, and a very good 131 Killdeer. The Killdeer total doesn’t compare to last year’s record count of 905 seen in a single day, but still sits in the top 20 of state spring counts.
Read today’s entire list on eBird here.