A head on shot of the LeConte's.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
A head on shot of the LeConte's.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
This is the first time that this species has ever been seen in Hamilton County. It is really an unlikely place for it to show up based on the number of people that visit the park. The bird was somewhat skittish but I do think that it will hang around for at least a few more days!
Below are a couple of the pictures that I took:
Tomorrow I am off to Florida for a few days. Hopefully I will have lots of awesome pictures to share when I get back on Tuesday!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I hadn't taken much of a hike in Paynetown SRA this spring so I headed that way. I was hoping for warblers but the best birds turned out to be vireos. I was able to see my first Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos of the year. I then drove across the causeway to Cutright SRA. There weren't too many birds but I was able to watch my first Eastern Kingbird of the year.
I decided to go looking for rails at this point. The best area for rails in the area are two large wetlands at the end of Friendship Road. I had no luck on the rails but I was able to find a LeConte's Sparrow. I had never had one of these sparrows in Indiana during spring migration and it was my first ever for Monroe County.
Monday, April 19, 2010
After arriving at Goose Pond at about 6 on Sunday night, Rob and I drove into Greene Sullivan State Forest to set up camp. As we quickly set up camp we heard our first Warbling Vireo of the year singing in the campground. We were also promptly asked, by another camper, if we wanted any beers but we figured we should hold off until after our birding for the night.
We arrived at the biggest body of water on the property of Goose Pond and were quickly rewarded with a small group of Cattle Egrets. After watching many yellowlegs flying into the marsh to roost for the night, we spotted a Marbled Godwit flying towards our position. It flew over allowing great but brief views.
Most people believe that the rooster is supposed to act as an alarm clock but for us it was a pair of Barred Owls. At about 6am they started calling from right above our tents. Soon after we pulled ourselves away from our warm sleeping bags to drive to our starting location. While driving down the road we heard our first King Rail of the year. After only a short wait we were able to get scope views of an adult King Rail that was interacting with a Sora. Both of these species came out into the open for about five minutes. Unfortunately this was before the three birders we were meeting (Mary Lou, Betty, and Ted) arrived.
Both Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks had been found in one unit the day before so we headed that way. When we arrived many ducks were in view. After sorting through them we found a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and a single Ruddy Duck. But after 30 minutes we still hadn't seen any Whistling-Ducks. We also walked into the backside of the unit without any luck. However we were able to get good looks at Wilson's Snipe. After walking across the road to another unit of Goose Pond, we quickly refound the Marbled Godwit from the day before. We were also able to watch six Black-necked Stilts along with a mixture of about 50 Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. And after a few minutes a flock of 14 White Pelicans drifted over.
We needed to pack up our camp so we headed into the state forest. We were treated to singing Warbling Vireo, Northern Parula, and Prothonotary, Yellow-throated, and Prairie Warblers. And a Red-headed Woodpecker went by right next to our tents.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The next stop was a marsh on the northern end of the lake. Here we were finally rewarded for our efforts. immediately as we got out of the car a raptor flew over. While it was only a short look, I was able to identify it as a Broad-winged Hawk. A Sora started calling shortly after we arrived and a Virginia Railed called one time while we were there. As we started to hike back to the car, I heard a Sora call. As I looked back I noticed a group of 9 American White Pelicans soaring over the trees. Everyone was very excited and we could even see the bump on the bill that they have during the breeding season!
After a quick drive through Kankakee Sands with little to note, we headed to a site that had recently been reported to have a Western Meadowlark. After driving through many cornfields and making a few wrong turns, we finally got to the area. While we were scanning one field for meadowlarks, I heard the Western singing behind me. It took us over 10 minutes to find the individual but we finally did! It was a lifer for Mary Lou and a great year bird for me (#153 for the year).
We had a great lunch at a local restaurant in Kentland and then headed down to Benton County to visit Pine Creek. Unfortunately, we had very little in the area other than a very large number of Blue-winged Teal. We ended the day with 61 species. We all had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful but windy weather!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
After seeing both of our target birds we headed just up the road to an awesome bird feeding station that is run by volunteers. As soon as we got close to the feeders we were able to pick out our first Hooded Oriole of the trip. During the winter a couple of people live in a camper next to the feeding station to run the extensive feeder set up. They were very helpful and helped pass the time as we waited for an Audubon's Oriole to come in. After about 30 minutes our first adult male Hooded Oriole came in which was quickly followed by our first Audubon's Oriole. This is definitely one of the most beautiful birds in the States. After getting our fill of the oriole we decided it was time to head north to the desert.
Audubon's and Hooded OriolesAs soon as we arrived at the entrance road to Falcon State Park we were able to see a few new trip birds. Within minutes we had seen Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Cassin's Sparrow. The rest of the day we enjoyed hiking around the desert trails and watching the many feeders throughout the park. We were able to have great views of Black-throated and Cassin's Sparrows. The Cassin's Sparrows would even come into the feeders and we were able to get great views of one that enjoyed the shade under one of the RVs. During the heat of the day we drove to Zapata for lunch. On our drive on the back roads we were able to see our only Lark Buntings of the trip.
Male and Female PyrrhuloxiaWe finished the day up back at Falcon State Park, where we were able to add our only Scaled Quail of the trip.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
When we finally got there, Eric had two Black Vultures in his scope and everyone was able to see the birds. After scanning the lake for a few minutes, we headed up the road to where a Louisiana Waterthrush had been heard singing earlier in the day. It was still singing away and had been joined by a second individual. Unfortunately, it was so far back along the creek that we were unable to find it but it's beautiful song was good enough for all of us.
We headed across the causeway and stopped at the first pull-off at Cutright SRA to check for Cliff Swallows that always nest under the bridge on the causeway. There were already about 20 birds there hurriedly building their nests for the upcoming breeding season. As we were about to head farther into the park, Eric and I heard the unmistakable song of the first Northern Parula of the year!
While birding in the park, we heard our first Yellow-throated Warbler of the year. Eric had to head to class at this point but the rest of the group continued to bird around Bloomington for the next few hours. We added very few birds to our list for the day, most likely due to the temperatures raising into the mid 80's by noon.
It was a great day to be out! I added 6 species to my Indiana year list which brings my total to 140 and also added 2 species to my ABA area year list bringing my total to 284.
Monday, April 5, 2010
We spent the next few hours hiking around the park. We found and photographed many of the commonly occurring species. Here are a couple of my favorites.
After finishing up our hike, we decided to conduct a short hawk watch from the observation tower. After only 30 minutes, we noticed two large raptors flying along the horizon. They flew closer and then landed in a tree quite a ways from the tower. Luckily, we were able to get a scope on one of the perched birds and identify it as a Hook-billed Kite, a lifer for both Eric and I. After finding one of our key species for the trip, we decided to head out of the park for lunch and check out Quinta Mazatlan.
After a completely unsuccessful trip to Quinta Mazatlan, we returned to Santa Ana for the afternoon and evening. We were able to find a Clay-colored Thrush shortly after arriving, which was another lifer for both of us.
After hiking around for awhile, we talked to a couple that had heard that one Fulvous Whistling-Duck at a pond a little bit down the path. Since this was our only chance to add one to our trip list, we hurried down the path and quickly found it in the next pond.
We then decided to conduct another hawk watch from the tower. After about an hour, we spotted a Gray Hawk flying around several hundred yards away. It was a great end to the days. We quickly walked back to our car to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.