Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big Day 2009 - 161 Species

We, Eric Ripma, Stephanie Ripma, and myself, began our Big Day by camping in Yellowwood State Forest just outside of Bloomington. We had planned to wake up at 2:30am and get going but we were too excited to sleep and began around 1:45am instead. While attempting to get some sleep, we heard, Whip-poor-will, Barred Owl, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Swainson’s Thrush. We quickly headed over to Friendship Road where we heard Chuck-wills-widow, Great Horned Owl, and Sora.

Our next stop was Fairfax SRA where we hoped to pick up may migrant passerines at sunup. We got to the site shortly before sunrise and were able to pick up our final expected owl, Eastern Screech-Owl. There were many warblers and other passerines as we had hoped and we spend more time here than we had planned for. We unfortunately had little activity on the lake and completely missed any terns. We left Fairfax with 80 species and headed to Paynetown SRA.

At Paynetown, we were again after migrant passerines and we were not disappointed. We added many species that we only saw once on our Big Day including Green Heron, Bank Swallow, Golden-winged, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, and Pine Warblers, Summer Tanager, and Swamp Sparrow.

After finding very few species at Cutright and Hardin Ridge, we headed back to the Friendship Road area where we got our only House Wren and Hairy Woodpeckers of the day. Then we drove back through Yellowwood SF to Lake Lemon. We made stops at Little Africa, the base of Shuffle Creek Road, and Riddle Point with very few species other than our only Veery and Ruddy Duck. After a quick stop for lunch, we headed to the Goose Pond area with 124 species on our list.

As we entered the Goose Pond area we quickly picked up many new species. We made a quick drive down CR-100S and through the northern portion of Beehunter Marsh and picked up many of the common species in this area. We then proceeded on to a flooded farm field just west of BH-3. There were many yellowlegs in the field but the highlight was a flyover Black-bellied Plover. We quickly moved on to the Goose Pond Units along 1400W. We again picked up some of the common species and were also rewarded with 2 Gadwall flying over GP-12, 1 Common Moorhen swimming in GP-12, and 5 Forester’s Terns over GP-10.

We made a quick stop along SR-59 to look for shorebirds and found 4 Black-necked Stilts and 2 Caspian Terns. We continued on to the back side of Main Pool West along CR 1200W. As we walked along the road, we found Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrow, Northern Harrier, and Sedge Wren. On a quick drive along CR 1100W we found our first Bell’s Vireo of the day and the first reported for the property for the year. We headed back to the units along CR 1400W.

As we turned onto CR 200S, We saw a large group of white egrets flying in the distance, after catching up with them, we were able to get a scope on the group and see that there were 43 Great Egrets, 1 Little Blue Heron, and 1 Cattle Egret. Also along the road, we heard an American Bittern, and saw one Bald Eagle on its nest and 2 Wilson’s Snipe. We then went back to a pull-off along SR-59 to watch the evening shorebird flight.

As we started scoping the area, there was nothing different than when we had been there the hour before. Eric spotted 1 Sanderling, only the third record for the property. Then we picked up on 11 Cattle Egrets flying towards us and landing in a tree only a few hundred yards away. As we kept scoping, I found 6 Willets flying into the unit only the second record for the property. We also had 757 Lesser Yellowlegs fling out of the unit between 7:44 and 8:20.

We attempted to hear King Rail along the Farmhouse Drive but were not successful.

We ended the day with 161 species, tying last year’s total. This was our first ever attempt at a southern Indiana Big Day and we are very happy with the result. It was a very exciting day with many extraordinary birds!

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Way to go! That is a lot of birds for one day. It must have been fun and exciting...a great memory too.