Saturday, December 19, 2009

Goose Pond CBC - Part 1

After waking up at 4:30am, and picking up our friend Chad, we arrived at the McDonald's in Linton, IN at 7:00am to meet up with our group for the Goose Pond CBC. This is the fourth year in a row that I have participated in this count and is definitely my favorite CBC each year. After a quick breakfast, we headed out to begin birding in our assigned unit. This year Chad, Stephanie, and I would be covering Unit 12 which I had not had the chance to hike through before.

Shortly after hiking into the unit, our team leader radioed that there were a few Whooping Cranes up flying and headed right towards us. Whooping Cranes are an amazing site to see, and I always feel very lucky when I get to see them. As we continued on our hike, we began to wonder if there were really any birds in our unit. As it started to get warmer outside, more and more sparrows started to pop up. Along with hundreds of American Tree Sparrows, there were a few Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows. I was finally able to find one of the rarer sparrows of the day, a Lincoln's. Most of the rest of the hike was a lesson in counting the unbelievable numbers of American Tree Sparrows in our unit. Luckily, the monotony of this activity was broken when we flushed a Wilson's Snipe. This was a lifer for Chad and a great bird at this time of year.

We finished up our unit with a couple of White-crowned Sparrows in the parking lot and began driving the roads looking for more species. After a short time, we got asked to come look at 3 shorebirds that were walking on the ice in another unit. They turned out to be Least Sandpipers, which is quite rare in the winter and a great bird for the count!

We then headed on to lunch at the McDonald's in Linton. The whole group of birders meets up at 12:30 and Lee Sterrenburg, the count's compiler, reads of a checklist so that we can find out what birds were seen in the morning. We then focus on the missed species in order to add as many species to the count as possible in the afternoon. While at lunch, we started talking to our friend Roger Hedge and decided to take our groups out together to look for some of the species that had been missed in the morning.

Look for a post soon on the second half for the day featuring our trips into Greene-Sullivan State Forest and Hawthorn Mine.


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