Monday, September 10, 2012

Indiana Young Birders Club Lakefront Field Trip

On Saturday morning, Rob, Nick Kiehl, Landon Neumann, Jeremy Davis, Steph Stewart, and I headed up to the shores of Lake Michigan for an Indiana Young Birder's Club birding trip.  We were hopeful for a great day due to the predicted strong north winds along the lake.  When the winds are out of the north, you have a great chance to see some bird species that usually stay too far out on the lake to see from the shore. 

One of the ever-present Sanderlings while we were scanning the lake.

Our excitement for the day became slightly diminished after spending a couple hours watching the lake had only produced a couple ducks and terns migrating past.  The bat and butterfly migration kept things somewhat interesting, and finding a washed up Sora being picked at by gulls provided much interest.  Eventually a jaeger was spotted, which at least in my opinion, was the target of the day.  It flew by close enough to get an identification of Parasitic Jaeger. 

The Sora that washed up on shore.  It was a sad sight but and interesting
bird to see up close.

After a little while longer, it seemed like that was going to be the highlight so we headed to the Hammond Migrant Trap to look for migrant passerines.  As soon as we entered the sanctuary, it was apparent that there would be many warblers.  We soon found 16 species of warblers including a couple Mourning Warblers and a Black-throated Blue, Lincoln's and White-throated Sparrows, Marsh Wren, and 3 species of thrushes.  
Our birding crew for the day!

The Peregrine Falcon that kept the shorebirds and gulls honest.

At this point, we decided it was time for a quick lunch, and it was decided we would spend the rest of the day watching the lake at Miller Beach.  This time the lakewatch paid off!  Within a few minutes we had a couple hundred Common Terns and a few Caspian and Forster's Terns flying over the lake.  After a while longer Landon spotted a group of three jaeger species about a mile away.  Eventually they flew in much closer and we were able to identify them all as Parasitic Jaegers, including one dark morph juvenile bird.

Another shot of a non-breeding plumaged Sanderling

All in all, it was a great field trip for all present!


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