Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Central Indiana Christmas Bird Counts

Brown Creeper

Some cold temperatures and a couple inches of snow were a great way to start the Christmas Bird Count season. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to the Goose Pond CBC, so my first one of the season was the Hamilton County CBC on December 19. This count was the first one that I participated in several years ago, so it has always been one of my favorites (even though the species count isn't usually too high).

Rob and I started off the Hamilton County CBC at Strawtown Koteewi Park with 3+ Great Horned Owls calling. As it began to get light, we headed over to Morse Reservoir while the snow began to fall with more intensity. Once we got to the reservoir, the snow limited our visibility, and we were only able to record 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 late Wood Ducks among the many geese and Ring-billed Gulls. We came back to this spot when the snow slowed down and had 45 Ruddy Ducks as well. We then went back to Koteewi to look for diurnal birds without too much luck - although we did have many American Tree Sparrows and the only Purple Finch for the count.

Dark-eyed Junco

The next day, we participated in another central Indiana CBC, the Eagle Valley count. This count includes my backyard, so when a Great Horned Owl started calling as we packed up the car it became our first bird for the count. This area includes Eagle Creek Reservoir and the great Eagle Creek Park. Rob and I along with 4 others covered an area on the west side of the reservoir called Eagles Crest. While waiting for enough light to begin, we saw one Great Horned Owl fly over and land in a distant tree. Within a couple minutes of beginning our walk, an American Pipit flew overhead giving its distinctive pip-it call. During the hike, we were able to find lots of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers along with many Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets. We also saw 2 American Pipits and the only Hermit Thrush for the count.

CBCs are always fun and are a great way to help moniter bird populations, so even if you do live in a northern area where there aren't many bird species, it is a great way to spend a day.
-Eric

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