Friday, September 25, 2009

What? A flock of migrants?

This has been one of the least exciting fall migrations since I began birding about 10 years ago. I have been able to find some migrants here and there, but each one is taking a large amount of energy. I think I am spoiled after birding at Eagle Creek Park for so long. I finally came across a nice size flock with many FOS (first of season) birds, even though it was rainy and foggy while I was out. Many later migrants have already started to return to Indiana exemplified by my sightings of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Palm Warbler, and Blue-headed Vireo. I only saw 8 species of warblers but the amount of woodpeckers and vireos made up for it. In Indiana, there are 7 regularly occuring woodpeckers, and I was able to see all but the Red-headed today. There was also a very cooperative Philadelphia Vireo and a couple cooperative Blue-headed Vireos.

Lake Monroe - My birding destination of choice during migration.

I can't wait to get out tomorrow morning for what I hope to be even a better wave of migrants.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Highlights from the Midwest Birding Symposuim

It has taken me a few days to really gather all my thoughts from the Midwest Birding Symposium, and I am now finally ready to share them with you. This was by far the most fun birding event I have ever attended. It's hard to imagine, but there really were 750 people at the symposium that were as crazy about birds as I am. Not only were there some great birders from the Midwest in attendence, but some of the most famous individuals in birding were also there. Scott Weidensaul gave a fantastic presentation on his book, Of a Feather. Al Batt had everyone rolling with laughter, and Jim McCormac taught us all about the wonderful birding along the Great Lakes. I especially enjoyed meeting Kenn Kaufman. I have always loved his book Kingbird Highway, and it was amazing to listen to him tell the stories that he wrote about in his latest work, Flights Against the Sunset. I was also able to speak with Kenn and his wife Kim for about 20 minutes later in the weekend.

Me with Kenn Kaufman

Additionally, I had the pleasure of birding with a group from the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University - Chris Wood, Jessie Berry, and Mary Guthrie. We birded the boardwalk at Magee Marsh and Ottawa NWR. We had a great day, and I hope to be able to visit the Lab soon.

Chad Williams, Me, Chris Wood, Jessie Berry, Mary Guthrie, Andy Johnson

While hanging out with all of these awesome birders was a wonderful experience, a certain bird did steal the show! After listening to Jim McCormac speak about birds along Lake Erie, Bill Thompson III announced that a Kirtland's Warbler had been found 5 minutes down the road. I have never seen an auditorium clear so quickly. We joined up with Dan Ross from Columbus, OH and hurried over to find this great rarity. After much searching, I was rewarded with beautiful looks of this life bird! Hundreds of people were able to see the Kirkland's Warbler, and it really made the weekend special for a large number of birders.

A shot of the Kirtland's Warbler by Chad Williams

It was a pleasure to meet so many leaders of the birding world this past weekend, and I spent time with several other wonderful people in addition to those mentioned above. I had a great time birding with Andy Johnson, a fantastic young birder from Ann Arbor, MI. While at the Kirtland's Warbler site, I met a long-time reader of my blog, Kelly Riccetti of Red and the Peanut, as well as Dave Lewis of Birds from Behind. I also had the chance to speak with BirdChick and Mike from 10000 Birds.

To everyone I met at the conference, I hope to see you again soon!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome to Autumn: SkyWatch Friday

As autumn begins, I thought that I would share with you the beautiful fall colors that will soon follow in my neck of the woods. These photos were take two years ago at Lake Monroe outside of Bloomington, Indiana. I hope you all are as excited to be able to photograph amazing colors like these this fall as I am!

Check out more great SkyWatch Friday posts here.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Midwest Birding Symposium - Day 1 - A Life Bird!

Greetings all!

I'm posting on Rob's behalf today, as access to the internet is fairly limited for him this weekend. So far, he's having a great time at the birding symposium. I received a text message a short while ago that he saw a Kirtland's Warbler at East Harbor State Park in Lakeside, Ohio - a life bird for him!

Kirtland's Warblers are endangered and one of the rarest members of the wood warbler family. They nest in just a few counties in Michigan's northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, in Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario.

For more information on this rare species, check out Cornell's All About Birds site on Kirtland's Warblers or Michigan's DNR site.

Have a great weekend!

Stephanie Ripma

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Midwest Birding Symposium - SkyWatch Friday

It has been awhile since I have written on the blog due to many changes currently happening in my life. My wife and I have moved back to Indianapolis and have been in the process of getting into our new apartment and unpacking. We finally got our internet hooked up tonight so hopefully you all will be seeing more posts from me soon!

Tomorrow I will be heading up to the Midwest Birding Symposium. It should be a fantastic event with many great speakers and hopefully a few interesting birds! I will be sure to post some updates as time allows!

For SkyWatch Friday, here is one of my favorite pictures from my spring trip to Alaska. We saw this sunset from the ship and were able to snap a few pictures before it disappeared!


See more great SkyWatch Friday posts here!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bird Photography Contest

We have started a monthly bird photography contest on our website To enter the contest you have to enter your photos into the group pool at Photos of birds, birders, and good birding areas are welcome. We will choose the top three to be displayed on the photography page of Credit along with a link to the photographers webpage will be displayed below the photo.

If you do not have an account on you will have to sign up for an account which is free of charge.

This is a Magnificent Frigatebird that came soaring right overhead while I was in the Keys.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Tame Barred Owl

Even though Barred Owls occur commonly throughout the state of Indiana I still feel lucky when I find one. I went out in the evening looking for migrant passerines when I found this owl. This Barred Owl made up for the lack of migrants. He was the most cooperative Barred Owl I have seen. He never flew away from the time I stopped my car next to him to the time I left and most the time he payed no attention to me at all. It was getting dark so I had to push the ISO high to get this shot resulting in the low quality of the picture but I was just happy to get a picture of him at all.