A Hard One and an Easy One

Because of this lousy weather I’m not in the shape I wanted to be on March 1.  And the weather hasn’t allowed me to start biking.  So to see if the American Woodcocks have returned I decided I’d drive today instead of walk.

I arrived at the north end of Atterbury FWA at 6:40 AM, opened the door, and immediately heard a PEENT, then another. In the short time I was there I heard three in all. I wanted to make sure that the ponds at Atterbury were still frozen so I moved on to Mallard Bay.  And it was.  So my plans were set for the day.  Find open water elsewhere.  But while I was there I heard another American Woodcock, a Great Horned Owl, and an Eastern Towhee.  And it then dawned on me I don’t think I had heard or seen a towhee yet this year.  And checking eBird later, I hadn’t.  Strange year.

I decided to check Sugar Creek from the center of Atterbury.  There were two Common Goldeneye which were a treat.  I heard some Canada Geese off to the south and from previous Bushwhacking I knew there was a seep to the south that might hold open water.

Seep - Atterbury 03/01/14
Seep – Atterbury 03/01/14
Open water from the seep as opposed to the open water seen behind.  The geese were on one a little farther down the path.   Atterbury 03/01/14
Open water from the seep as opposed to the frozen water seen behind. The geese were by some a little farther down the path.
Atterbury 03/01/14

I walked the 1/2 mile south, at one point almost stepping on an American Woodcock.  No kidding.  I think I might of actually clipped it before it flew off. After hacking my way through the undergrowth I finally got a look at the geese.

You never know what you may find at the end of a BushWhacking Adventure. Atterbury FWA 030114
You never know what you may find at the end of a BushWhacking Adventure.
Atterbury FWA 030114

About 25 Canada Geese and to my surprise 2 little geese – Cackling Geese.  I really hadn’t expected anything but it made the bushwhacking worthwhile.

Finally getting through the thickets and what do I find?  Two Cackling Goose.  Or at least 2 small Canada Geese. Atterbury 03/01/14
Finally getting through the thickets and what do I find? Two Cackling Goose. Or at least 2 small Canada Geese.  They just didn’t seem small enough but I wasn’t very close.  Richardson’s maybe?
Atterbury 03/01/14

Walking back to the car checking several more spots I knew American Woodcock slept, but no luck for a picture. But I did come across a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers which are always around there, and a pair of Rusty Blackbirds, which aren’t usually around there.

A couple more unproductive stops and then on to Lowes/Walmart pond.  I had an activity with the family at noon so I had to keep moving.  Getting to the pond at 10:40 I immediately saw many more species than I had been there lately – Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Merganser were good additions to the usual Redheads, Mallards, and American Coots.  And then I caught a glimpse of something white diving.  Common Eider came to mind?  No way.  Male Long-tailed Duck?  Probably with all the reports lately.  I have seen several females but never a male.  Of course it was a antagonizing 10 minutes before I spotted it up again.  It was diving and surfacing so fast I hadn’t noticed it had move to the west.  One good look and it was a Male Long-tailed Duck.

LTDU Lowes 030114A

What a cool looking bird.  Why don’t we have more birds that look like this in the Midwest?

LTDU Lowes 030114C

LTDU Lowes 030114

LTDU Lowes 030114E

LTDU Lowes 030114F

Check out the sleeping eye!

I called Mike Clay and left a message.  I spent several minutes watching it through the scope and then trying for some pictures.  Mike called back and said he was on the way.  I watched the duck while waiting for Mike.  Seemed much smaller than I realized and dove with some frequency.  Mike arrived and the duck decided to preen giving good looks.  I talked to Mike for 10 minutes and then had to split wishing I could stay.

So on the day I had to work hard for the Cackling Geese and had one-handed to me – Long-tailed Duck.  And for those keeping score, which I am – Johnson County 199.  And a complete surprise at that.