Past Couple of Weeks

The last two weeks have mainly been spent on things other than birding but I have been able to get out each weekend for some birding.

A week ago Saturday, 9/13, I met up with Mike Clay for a few hours at Southwestway Park in Indianapolis.  The weather was dark and windy which did not lend itself to photos, or exceptional birding.  But Mike showed me around the park and what habitats are good in which seasons. Probably the highlight were the large number of Indigo Buntings that were around.

That afternoon I stopped by the nearby wet field and saw my first American Coot of season in a near by pond.



A few weeks ago I asked where do people bird.  Regular reader and commenter Andy Beal said that Ft. Harrison Park in Indianapolis was a good spot.  I knew Don Gorney gave regular walks there in the fall so I headed there Sunday morning. There was a good turnout with about 20 people.  It was good to meet several people whose posts I have read in IN-Bird.  It was also good to meet Andy who also was on the walk.  I want thank Don who did a great job leading a group of that size.

There were numerous passerines and I got good looks at many of them.  There was also a nice flock of Double-crested Cormorants that flew over.

An Eastern Wood-Pewee in the morning light.
A distant Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I did miss a couple of Black-and-White Warblers that were seen.  I think it is starting to turn into my nemesis bird for the area.

After the main walk ended I stayed around and talked to Don.  A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher showed up.  I of course had put my camera away but Aidan Rominger got great photos, as usual, and sent the following for use.

YBFL FT. Harrison - Aidan
A very cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Photo by Aidan Rominger.

This past weekend I birded Southeastway Park on Saturday morning and the local flooded field on Sunday. I didn’t get to Southeastway until 9:30 and since this was my first time there, I spent most of the time just walking the edges.  I came across a small flock of birds moving through the trees and had a male Cape May Warbler give great looks for 5 seconds, and then move on.  I can see the park being a regular place to bird for migrants.

Sunday morning with the winds at 20 mph I decided to visit the local flooded field instead of look for warblers.  Wasn’t expecting much but always worth look. Killdeer numbers were way down with only 10 versus the 100+ the last few times.  There were Pectoral, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers.  Plus 2 Semipalmated Plovers.

And then there was a light colored bird that I knew wasn’t one of the others. Now keep in mind I am viewing at 175 meters through my spotting scope.  It was smaller than a Killdeer and the Pecs.  It then walked by a Least and was bigger.  It walked by a Semipalmated Plover. About the same size.  So a large peep.  My initial thought had been Sanderling but the GISS was wrong.  It wasn’t acting like one and didn’t look plump enough for one.  It look more long and lean, with long primary projections.  That left me to decide on Baird’s or White Rumped Sandpiper.  Really wasn’t to hard from there with the lighter coloring it was a Baird’s.  Plus the face was plain with no eyeline, just a plain light brown

So I picked up two Indiana life birds over the weekend – the Cape May and the Baird’s.  Just shows what you can do locally if you get out and bird.

Back at it…

As my mother used to ask when I hadn’t called in a while (before cell phones and when long-distance calls cost too much), “Have you fallen off the face of the earth?”.  No, I am still here and have even birded some. Just no extra time to blog. But I am getting back into a routine after the move so the blogging should increase.

I took today off and took some time to lake watch at Eagle Creek Reservoir from Rick’s parking lot on the off-chance a Sabine’s Gull would fly by. Or maybe a Franklin’s. Or dare I say the J-word?  I did the same thing last Sunday afternoon. It is the right time of the year, maybe a week or two early.  But there have been steady winds from the north the last couple of days. Didn’t have luck either time, but you won’t know unless you look.

A few pictures of the above mentioned gulls from previous years.

SAGU Carlyle Lake 092510
Juvenile Sabine’s Gull from the Illinois Ornithological Society’s Pelagic Field Trip on Carlyle Lake. 09/25/10


SAGU Carlyle Lake 092510A
Same Bird Flying away. Notice the distinctive tri-colored wings. Photo cropped and enlarged.
PAJA Carlyle Lake 092510
Parasitic Jaeger – same location and date as above Sabine’ Gull. Just looks Bad A**, especially at close range.
FRGU LL 052612A
Franklin’s Gull – A yearly visitor to the Illinois Valley, where I did most of my birding in Illinois. LaSalle Lake 052612

It was good to get the “feel” of the 25 Ringed-bills coming and going. I really haven’t watched gulls since I moved to Indiana and I need to get the “feel” of Ringed-bills so I can differentiate a different gull or tern that might chance by.

RBGU Eagle CreekA 091214
Take time to watch the “common” birds so you will notice the uncommon birds.
RBGU Eagle CreekB 091214
Like this “common” Ring-billed Gull in flight.
RBGU Eagle CreekC 091214
Eagle Creek Reservoir 091214

The only other bird of note was an Osprey that I first noticed on a light pole on the dam and then hunting below the dam. Otherwise it was quiet.

OSPR Eagle Creek 091214
Osprey, a long ways away. Eagle Creek Reservoir 091214

I will join Mike tomorrow morning at Southwestway Park and then hopefully go on Don Gorney’s walk at Ft. Harrison Sunday morning. So I should have more to report Monday.

Starting Over

If you have been following this blog then you know I believe that you can find most birds that are yearly residents or migrate through the Midwest within minutes of your home. I just don’t believe you have to travel far from home to see most birds. So when we moved from Franklin to the south side of Indianapolis last month, I was lost on where to bird. Living in Franklin it was a no brainer to head to Atterbury FWA area, a 15 minute drive.  But now Atterbury is a half hour drive one way. Time which I would rather spend birding.

So one  reason I haven’t been blogging, besides the move and being out-of-town for business for a few days, is the lack of direction in birding. I have birded each weekend through August but have not been enthusiastic about it. I’m now pretty sure the course I am going to take, plus some rest, so the enthusiasm has returned.

First let me say that if Atterbury was a prime birding spot I would continue to make the drive. But as I will blog in the next couple of weeks, in my opinion Atterbury is deteriorating as a birding site. The military is starting the construction on the area they swapped out in 2010.  Plus there are crops being grown on former grassland areas.  Plus as I blogged last September, it is essentially closed from September through January except to hunters. I will continue to make the occasional Johnson County run, but not on a weekly basis.

Readers also know I have never got into a groove like I did in Illinois.  My basic schedule was to bird Saturday AM for passerines, bird  the local gull/shorebird area Sunday afternoon, then stop on the way home from work a couple of nights a week to scan gulls or shorebirds.  But I hadn’t been able to do that easily living in Franklin.

I have already found a flooded field between work and our new residence that was packed with shorebirds.  Plus there are two parks, where hunting is not allowed, that I can bird to and from work. And  I can easily get to Eagle Creek on a Sunday afternoon to watch the gulls, something I really miss.

So I am back into birding the way I like it.  Time will tell how it works out.