Killdeer Crossing

It was a warmer, yet still brisk morning for the longshore flight, today, March 6.  The temperature at dawn started at 52 degrees, with a stiff south wind.  The air would only warm two degrees during the count, but winds would increase to 15 mph, with gusts pushing 30 mph.  Birding in 30mph winds is difficult enough in the woods.  Exposed on the bird tower is quite frankly dangerous.  Thus, much of the birding this morning was done below on the old wooden staircase.

This morning’s flight was generally slow in the blasting winds.  But an assortment of typical early migrants were moving nonetheless.  2,955 birds were recorded this morning, totaling 37 species.  For the season we’ve already recorded 74 species of birds from the tower site.

Waterfowl were again of interest today.  13 species went by today, including 22 Green-winged Teal, 7 White-winged Scoters, and a far but contrasting white/gray/black male Long-tailed Duck.  Red-throated Loons put on their best movement of the season, with 16 birds moving east to west.  This was the highest spring longshore count since March 9, 2016.

A large flock of Sandhill Cranes put down in Cowles Bog yesterday, as noted by several birders and local Dune Acres residents.  So it was interesting to see several groups pick up this morning moving out of the Cowles Bog area from the tower site.  174 birds were seen moving from the bog.  The cloudy conditions and high winds were not conducive to any thermal migration today.

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Killdeer occurrence histogram for Indiana Dunes area.  Map courtesy Brock’s Birds of Indiana Dunes.

The other main highlight today was the continued Killdeer migration.  No matter the spring weather, Killdeer are quite predictable at moving in this period of March.  At times, flocks of 10-15 Killdeer can be seen and heard flying directly over the tower.  Yesterday’s excellent count was matched and then some as 212 Killdeer migrated today.  Breaking 200 means a new record in the dunes area top 10 list for Killdeer, and a similar state record for spring (statewide fall records are generally higher).

Just in time for spring migration, the current weather charts are showing a shift to west winds the next two days, followed by a sharp decrease in temperatures associated with north winds.  The outlook for migration the next week is not very good.

See today’s complete list here.

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