In today’s blog, I’ll start out with today and then save the best for last. Even through some light rain, due to the favorable winds that have been in the area since before yesterday, there was a decent push of birds and a bunch of new arrivals. With today’s rainy conditions, I was able to see and photograph something I have never seen here before, an early morning rainbow perfectly over the tower!
Today there were 68 species found at the tower, 5 of them being new arrivals for this year. The new arrivals were: Lesser Yellowlegs, House Wren, Savannah Sparrow, Tennessee Warbler, & Hooded Warbler. This was the earliest arrival date at the tower for Tennessee Warbler with the previous record being on 5/1/2018.
A picture of the Hooded Warbler was taken by Brendan Grube which can be seen below.
All of the 2,316 birds counted today can be seen on this list… https://ebird.org/checklist/S107915404
Then there was yesterday. Yesterday was undoubtedly the best day by far that I have ever had at the tower in the month of April, and one of the best days I have had at tower overall. With 10,924 birds of at least 94 species, it’s easy to see why I would make that statement. I’m not sure if there has ever been a day that broke 90 species in April at this site before. Everything was being held back, and the previous night’s weather conditions allowed for a major migration event to occur.
There were 15 species that were new arrivals for the year which were: American Golden-Plover, Marbled Godwit, Dunlin, Solitary Sandpiper, Green Heron, Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, White-crowned Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Black-and-White Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, & Indigo Bunting. The Godwit was definitely the rarest bird of the day. This species is much more often found in this area in fall (still being a rare find) compared to spring in this area, and has not been found in spring in the Indiana Dunes region in three years.
The 2 Blue-headed Vireos that passed had tied the 8th earliest record of this species on the Indiana lakefront.
Yesterday there were 2 Orchard Orioles, and there was one today. Yesterday’s were the earliest arrival date for the tower and the 3rd earliest arrival date for the Indiana lakefront. The previous earliest date for this species at the tower was on April 25th in 2016.
This was also the earliest arrival at the tower of Indigo Buntings with the previous record bring 4/25/2016.
Chimney Swifts had just arrived the day before, and are a bird that normally peaks in numbers in May. With a great flight of 256 of them, this was one of the best totals for a day in April this site has ever had.
The big movement of 35 Great Blue Herons that occurred yesterday broke the tower’s single day high count which was previously 27 occurring on both 4/14/2013 & 4/7/2019.
Then, there were the hawks. The majority of the raptors that flew by yesterday were Broad-winged Hawks. There were a total of 264 of them, which is a higher number for one day than the Indiana Dunes region has seen in years. This is the Indiana lakefront’s 5th largest count, and I think I may be right in saying that the 4 higher counts all pre-date the existence of eBird. There were other raptor species counted yesterday as well, some of which also had some pretty large totals such as Osprey with a count of 9, Northern Harriers with a count of 22, Sharp-shinned Hawks with a count of 78, Bald Eagles with a count of 9, and American Kestrels with a count of 15. A total count of 460 raptors really made a strong contribution to this seasons raptor total. According to Ken Brock, the Dunes area’s current season total for hawks is 2,960. This is the largest season total this area has had since 1992 which had 3,774 hawks tallied. This information can be seen in better detail in the chart below.
Yesterday’s truly incredible list can be seen in the link below… https://ebird.org/checklist/S107812373