Thursday, August 29, 2013

Warbler Migration is Picking Up!

Rob writes: This morning, since radar showed a good amount of migration last night, I decided to get up early and do a little birding at Eagle Creek Park before it got too hot outside. When I arrived at the marina, it was extremely quiet and I was worried that I may not be able to find very many birds. As I was heading back to my car to move to another part of the park, I head some chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches making a lot of noise and decided to check it out. Almost immediately I realized that there were warblers mixed in with the flock!

There were a few Black-and-white Warblers inspecting the bark for insects and one Blackburnian Warbler flitting among the leaves at the top of the tree. I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and was pleasantly surprised to find a Blue-winged Warbler when I raised my binoculars. Then a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher joined the mix. Something startled the flock and they flew a short distance to some tree across the road which gave me a much better view.

One of the Black-and-white Warblers searching for insects.
Another shot of the Black-and-white.
As I continued to watch the flock, I found one Tennessee and one Blackpoll Warbler, and two Prothonotary Warblers. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a first year Canada Warbler appeared!

This Prothonotary Warbler decided to pose for some photos!
Another view of the Prothonotary
It was starting to get really hot by this point so I left the marina and made a quick stop at the end of the Handicap Road on the north end of the park. There was not a whole lot going on since mudflats still have yet to emerge in the area but a Black-crowned Night-Heron flew over just before I left! It had been quite a long time since I had seem that species at the park.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Warbler Guide: Audio Companion

Since I first reviewed The Warbler Guide, Princeton University Press and the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have released an awesome audio companion for the book. The authors, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, have taken what was already an amazing book and made it much better with this addition. I had originally felt that without actually having the audio, the sonograms were somewhat difficult to understand if you had not seen them before. Now, with the audio companion, it is very easy to compare the sonograms with real audio of the species. This creates the opportunity to not just learn the warblers by sight with The Warbler Guide but also the songs, calls, chip notes, and flight calls!

If you don't own this book, get it right away and be sure to buy and download the audio by following this link.

***We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.***

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Heron on the Hunt

Rob writes: Yesterday, Stephanie and I joined my in-laws for some hiking at Brown County State Park in southern Indiana. While some of us hiked a longer trail, Stephanie hung back and worked on taking photos around Ogle Lake. She really lucked out when a Great Blue Heron decided to hunt for some frogs right in front of her and she captured the whole event!

This photo was taken just after the heron caught the frog.
The heron proceeded to play with its food for the next 5 minutes.
It finally swallowed the frog whole. You can see the hind legs sticking out of the beak.
The frog created quite the lump in the heron's throat!
Even the most common of birds can offer great entertainment!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Unexpected Visitor at Lucky Peak

Rob writes: Eric is still busy banding birds with the Idaho Bird Observatory at Lucky Peak outside Boise so he has not been able to post on the blog recently. He reports that migration in starting to pick up a little bit with an increase in both Townsend's and Wilson's Warblers! One of the most exciting birds that they have banded recently was not a migrant though. Wouldn't you love to be able to hold this Northern Pygmy-Owl?

A Northern Pygmy-Owl at Lucky Peak.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Recent Eagle Creek Park Sightings

Rob writes: Over the last couple of weeks, my birding has been pretty limited but I have been out to Eagle Creek Park on the west side of Indianapolis several times. The grasslands on the west side of the reservoir have been one of the best parts of the park this summer. Last week, I took a friend out to get his lifer Henslow's Sparrow and the birds did not disappoint! The photos did not turn out great due to poor lighting but we got amazing looks at the birds.

I had been hoping to find some reasonable shorebird habitat in central Indiana and I was very excited when one of our Indiana Young Birders found some mudflats on the north end of the reservoir. On Sunday morning, I decided to hike up to that part of the reservoir to see if there were any shorebirds. While the mudflats were not extensive by any means, the shorebirds were making use of them since they are just about the only suitable habitat in central Indiana. In addition to the usual species, Killdeer, Spotted, and Solitary Sandpiper, there were also Least, Semipalmated, and Baird's Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plover! It seems like this will be the place to find shorebirds this fall in central Indiana and hopefully the water levels will continue to drop and expose more mudflats!