With several days off since that last significant bird movement, birders in the dunes are primed for a massive movement of birds. Yesterday saw winds build from the north as a system dropped into the Great Lakes that was more reminiscent of a fall storm. By 6am, winds were gusting over 50 mph. It was a brutal day along the lakeshore as waves pounded the sand, pushing the water to the foredunes, and no doubt carving out some fresh bank swallow walls.
Though we took off any flight counts on Thursday, the usual gull movement took place on the lighter north winds right after the cold front. Why large movements of gulls takes place on the southern shore in a north wind isn’t completely known. However, in three hours of counting 700 gulls flew past the park today, making up 6 different species! We’re pushing or past the departure date for Thayer’s and Iceland’s Gulls, yet one of each were seen today. Both Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls were logged today as well. Friday’s north winds survey can be found here.
Equally exciting, is the upcoming south winds approaching. The winds shift overnight Friday night and will build to a beautiful Saturday, and the first wave of migrants. Continued south winds Saturday night will bring an even larger wave of new migrants. The longshore survey sits at 118 species. The images below show aloft wind speeds at 2,000 feet on both Saturday morning and Sunday morning. Birds will have a clear path of south winds from Texas to the Great Lakes this weekend. The only question is how far can they travel in a few days.
Many new sources are making bird migration forecasts based on weather predictions. The eBird Regional Migration Forecast is one source doing weekly predictions.
The state park will highlight the migration going on Sunday morning. If you want to see the best of the morning’s flight you need to head to the longshore tower at dawn. If you’re completely new to the longhsore flight, visit the beach pavilion at 9am Sunday. Naturalist staff will be on hand to take people up to the tower and look for birds along the way. Join us!