Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A State Bird and a 13 Warbler Day

I have not been able to get out birding as much as I would like recently, but the last couple of days have allowed me some spare time and awesome birds. Last night at about 6:15 a friend of mine called to say that he had a recently reported Yellow-headed Blackbird in his scope. I hurried over to Lebanon, about 30 minutes away, only to find that they had last seen the bird about 10 minutes prior to my arrival. We searched all of the areas that it had been seen frequenting with no luck. We decided to try something new so we walked up on some train tracks and headed towards some corn stubble. At first, we still could not find it but then the bird suddenly flew in from out of nowhere! I took a few shots before it disappeared again apparently not to return as it was not seen today.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

After an exciting night of thunderstorms, I got up early and headed to Bloomington to look for Ruffed Grouse and as many warblers as I could find! I picked up my friend Mary Lou on the way and made it to Bloomington by 8am. We planned to start out looking for a Ruffed Grouse on T.C. Steele Road but it turned out that the storms had flooded the road and I would have to find another way in. I decided to give Crooked Creek Road a try and was happy to find that it was not flooded and as a bonus, we found a Blue-winged Warbler on the way over. We found several warbler species along Crooked Creek including Parula, Yellow-throated, Pine, and Ovenbird.

When we got to Crooked Creek SRA, we picked up a lot of species really quickly! There were at least three Prothonotary Warblers, one of which came within about 5 feet of us. My first Yellow Warbler of the year appeared close by as well. As we started to head back to the car, I heard my first Prairie Warbler of the year and was able to quickly locate the bird before it flew off. Right as we were about to get back in the car, Mary Lou found a few birds that turned out to be Warbling Vireos right about my car.

We continued on to look for grouse and heard a Black-and-white Warbler along the way. We parked at the corner of T.C. Steele Road and Deckard Ridge Road and got out to look for Ruffed Grouse. It was not long before I heard a female calling in the distance. We were unfortunately not able to locate the bird. An unexpected bonus was a pair of Worm-eating Warblers calling back and forth across the street from the grouse!

We had trouble getting to any other other birding sites on the north side of Lake Monroe due to flooding so we headed on to Lake Lemon. It was very slow birding there except for hundreds of swallows and my first Palm Warbler of the year.

It ended up being a great day with 13 warbler species and many other first of the year birds.

Eastern Phoebe - There are many phoebes back in Indiana!


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