Saturday, May 29, 2010
After lunch, we headed out to Metzger Marsh to try our luck with some marsh birds. Right as we started driving down the dike there were many cars stopped. We decided to pull in and see what they were looking for. Just as they were telling us that they had seen one of the recently reported Yellow-headed Blackbirds, I saw one fly across the road and completely disappear. While we never were able to see it again, we did see both and adult and immature Black-crowned Night-Heron and an American Bittern. As we continued down the dike, we saw a few Common Moorhens.
After parking at the end, we scanned the beach and found about ten Ruddy Turnstones with one Dunlin. We took one more hike around the boardwalk at Magee without many new highlights and then headed to dinner and some much needed rest.
We started off early on Sunday morning at the boardwalk but the birding was definitely slower than it had been the last two days. We managed to find a couple of nice flocks of warblers. The birding was slow all day but everyone enjoyed the great weather and wonderful company!
On Monday, most of the group decided to head to a park outside of Toledo called Oak Openings to try for a few grassland species. I choose to take a group out on the boardwalk again. I was another great morning to be out but, the birding was still slow. We managed to add two species to the trip list, Northern Harrier and Acadian Flycatcher! We started making our way home in the early afternoon.
It was a great trip with fantastic participants. We ended up seeing 158 species over the 4 days we were there! We have made many changes at Indiana Audubon recently and it seems to be making a big difference. People are excited and talking about where we will plan the next trip to already!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
After birding the eastern part of North Dakota a few days ago, I drove to the western part of the state to continue doing bird surveys. I had planned on only spending a few days in Theodore Roosevelt National Park but due to some bad weather I have had to spend more time than I expected.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
After a little while we ran into two more birders from Fargo. I had come to this spot because of their posts on the ND listserv so it was nice to put faces with the names. After talking about some local birding spots, I learned that the the sewage lagoons, a place I was planning on visiting, is not accessible without a key. And even if you happen to have a key you don't really have permission to be on the property. Luckily, Keith, one of the other birders, had spare keys that he offered so I would be able to bird the property. However it didn't come to that because, Bob, the other birder from Fargo, decided to check out the lagoons.
One of these is not the same-Can you tell what two species are in this photo?
Black Tern-one of my favorite birds that inhabit the marshes of North Dakota.
Friday, May 21, 2010
There was a juvenile Eastern Screech-Owl sitting in a tree near a nesting box. As we approached, it fell out of the tree and gently landed in the leaves below. We watched as it climbed back up the tree to safety. When we got closer, we realized that we had been under the watchful eye of both of its parents. Not only did we get to see 3 screech-owls, but the adults represented both the gray and rufous morphs!
As we finished up there, I got a call from a very excited birder. There was a Kirtland's Warbler at Magee Marsh. As we sped over there, I hoped that the whole group would be able to see the bird. We arrived at the site and within minutes we saw it! Over the next half hour, the whole group was able to view the Kirtland's! It came within 3 or 4 feet of me while feeding and I was able to get head shots with my 400mm lens. It was one of the most exciting time I have ever had while birding!
Two shots are below. The first one is one of the head shots that I took. The second one was taken by my wife as the Kirtland's seemed to study her from a bush only feet away.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I have been in South Dakota for just over a week and have had some exciting birds while training in the Black Hills and once I moved east to start my surveys in Fort Pierre National Grassland.
The library is about to close, so I will leave you with some pics from the first week.
Harris's Sparrow-One of the more beautiful sparrows, this one is just a migrant.
One of the other field techs thought it would be funny if he wrote My Mom's on the truck I brought out. I thought it was kind of funny too, so I left it. Your vehicle gets dirty when doing field work.
Friday, May 14, 2010
On Thursday, I went to Cool Creek Park for a little over an hour before heading into work. I have never seen the park so alive with birds! In my short time in the park, I had 21 species of warblers including 3 Canadas, 2 Black-throated Blues and my first Mourning Warbler of the year! I ended the morning with 61 species and definitely could have gotten many more with a little more time.
This morning I headed out to Eagle Creek feeling that it could be a great day for birding. I was not disappointed! After a slow start, the marina quickly picked up and warblers were everywhere. A major highlight was beautiful male Golden-winged Warbler that sang for much of the time that I was at the marina. As we continued to sort through the flock, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher appeared. This is quite early for this species and everyone was very excited. Just as I was about to move on to another area of the park, an Alder Flycatcher started singing. This was a new year bird for me.
Our next stop was the skating pond. We had amazing looks at a Mourning Warbler preening in some bare branches and also added Black-throated Blue and Canada Warblers for the day. My last new year bird was a Lincoln's Sparrow. This is number 235 on the year! I finished the day with 28 species of warblers and 105 species in the park!
Monday, May 10, 2010
We struggled to find warblers in the wind but we ended up with 13 species. The only new year bird that I found at Ritchey was a single Willow Flycatcher that called only once! This was number 221 for the year in Indiana for me.
Next we headed over to a site where Lark Sparrows had been reported recently. I was lucky to see the Lark Sparrow for about 20 seconds before it disappeared in the weeds never to show back up for the rest of the group. We also had our only Great Egret of the day here.
After another quick stop with nothing of note, we headed back to Cool Creek for lunch and a tally from all of the teams that had gone out. Even with all of the wind, the group found 126 species and finished within 5 of the record. It was a great morning out birding despite the weather and everyone had a great time!
Friday, May 7, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The next morning I was going to be leading a bird hike on the property but when I woke up to thunderstorms at 4am, I began to wonder if my hike would happen. We decided to give it a try in the rain. It was slow for the first 2 hours but then the rain stopped and the amount of birds quickly picked up! We ended the day with 69 species including 15 warblers.
My hike was set to go out again at 7am on Sunday but we were again threatened by rain. This time we were even luckier and the rain stopped just as the hike started. Although this hike was much shorter, we found 57 species including 14 warblers and 2 year birds for me, Acadian Flycatcher and Yellow-breasted Chat.
It was a very successful weekend. The event was attended by about 45 adults and over 24 kids. Hopefully we can continue to make this event bigger and better. Now on to our Fall Festival at McCormick's State Park!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was feeding right along the Wildlife Drive at 'Ding' Darling NWR on Sanibel Island.
I saved my favorite shot for last. I spent a long time photographing this Anhinga as he sunned himself at Ding Darling. Even with the numerous cars that stopped to check him out, he never budged!