The Eighth Benefit of Walking 30 Minutes a Day

THE 7 BENEFITS

We can all list the 7 benefits of walking 30 minutes a day since we have heard them so many times. Well, maybe we can’t list them all but we can list a few of them.

Here are the benefits from the American Heart Association”s web page:

Research has shown that walking at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

But  I bet you don’t know the 8th one that benefits birders??

MOVING = WEIGHT

If you have been following this blog you know that my family moved in early August and the rest of the month was spent unpacking the move.  As usual in those type of circumstances I did not eat well or exercise much.

So I ended up putting on a few pounds (or more) and generally felt crummy.  Work wasn’t easy.  Birding wasn’t easy.  I just felt tired all the time.

THE CHANGE

So starting on Labor Day my wife and I started walking 30 minutes a day.  Maybe not every day but at least 6 times a week.  And I cut out sweets and chips, my weaknesses.  We did it right after work so we would be sure not to skip it.  You have all heard to walk with someone and to make sure to pick a set time.

From a former runner this is the best advice to make sure you don’t stop the program.

After about 4 weeks I could definitely feel a change in the way I felt and my weight had dropped back and was even lower than my premove weight.

Plus I started to notice the 8th benefit.

THE EIGHTH BENEFIT

Prior to October while birding on a Saturday, I would notice by noon that I was dragging and wasn’t sharp.  I would have trouble recognizing bird calls.

But one Saturday this October my wife was out of town.  So I decided to bird most of the day.  I started at 8AM and at 3PM I was still going strong without any notable loss of energy or trouble identifying birds.  Clock

Just the lack of birds stopped me from continuing on.

 

 

So the Eighth Benefit is . . .

By walking 30 minutes a day you improve your stamina and ability to bird for longer periods of time.  Not just longer, but birding sharper as well.

Have you ever noticed a similar result from walking?

Johnson County – March Big Walking (Biking) Day – Ross’s Geese

I did my third Big Monthly Walking Day today.  I wanted to go Saturday but with the weather I knew it wouldn’t be productive.  So I had to go on Sunday.  The problem was it was my wife’s birthday and my daughter went to work at two.  So I had to cut the morning walk to be home by 10:30 or so.  I then planned to go back out later in the afternoon.

I started the day in a different area, a little farther out in the country.  I figured I would get grassland and country birds.  Wrong choice. I only heard a group of Horned Larks and nothing else that I wouldn’t get in the city.  But I did find a Red-tailed Hawks nest only a half mile from home.  And an Eastern Meadowlark was at the edge of town.

The female flew out of the nest about 5 seconds before I took the image.  Franklin 03/30/13
The female flew out of the nest about 5 seconds before I took the image. Franklin 03/30/13

The morning turned out to be what I expected, no great surprises or misses.

I was hoping the Blue Jays had an owl cornered, but I guess they were just flying around the neighborhood.  Franklin 03/30/14
I was hoping the Blue Jays had an owl cornered, but I guess they were just flying around the neighborhood. Franklin 03/30/14

The only real surprise was a Swamp Sparrow where I didn’t expect one and there was a pair of Eurasian-collared Doves instead the usual one I have been seeing.

Brown Creeper inching up a tree.  Franklin 03/30/13
Brown Creeper inching up a tree. Franklin 03/30/13

I walked a little over 5 miles and ended up with 37 species.

For the afternoon I needed to go to the Lowes pond – 3.3 miles – a little over an hours walk with no where to bird in between.  I decided to forgo the walk but keep it in the spirit of BIGBY, so I rode my bike which only took 20 minutes to cover the distance.  The pond had the usual birds with a changing Horned Grebe the best looking bird.

Took this photo Saturday when the Horned Grebe was closer.  Lowes Pond 03/29/13
Took this photo Saturday when the Horned Grebe was closer. Still not a very good photo.  Lowes Pond 03/29/13

And to think it was frozen only a little while ago?

Just a short time ago the pond was frozen...   Lowes/Walmart Pond - Franklin 03/30/14
Just a short time ago the pond was frozen…
Lowes/Walmart Pond – Franklin 03/30/14
Two guys ice fishing in the light snow.  Lowes/Walmart Pond 02/09/14
Lowes/Walmart Pond 02/09/14

I then rode out to the local high school to pick up the remaining grassland birds.  With that accomplished I was done for the day and started what I thought would be the half hour ride home.

Riding through the industrial area I went by a new building that has a retention pond that is filling up.  I saw some white birds and figured they had put out some fake swans to scare off the geese.  I then got closer and the white geese moved.  They were by some Canada Geese and heading over the edge but from the distance my first thought was Ross’s Geese!

My first thought was that someone had put out fake geese, then they started to move.  Two of the six geese going sown to the pond. Franklin 03/30/14
My first thought was that someone had put out fake geese, then they started to move. Two of the six geese going sown to the pond. Franklin 03/30/14

I then had to ride around the back of the building and and walk through some mud to get a better look.

ROGO Franklin 033014E

By their small size they sure looked like Ross’s.  A closer look showed the small bill with no discernible “grin patch”.  Looked good for Ross’s but since I have seen so few of them or even that many Snow Geese for that matter, and then usually at a distance, it still is a tough call.

ROGO Franklin 033014G

ROGO Franklin 033014F

ROGO Franklin 033014D

ROGO Franklin 033014C

The best picture of the day.

ROGO Franklin 033014A

I then headed home having walked over 5 miles, biked over 11, seeing 54 species on the day, and another county first for me.

The Elusive White Ghost

When I go on my short walks after work I don’t carry my binoculars or any other birding gear.  I do what Ted Eubanks would describe as “bare-naked” birding.  The point of these short walks is for exercise and to get in shape for longer weekend walks.  Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the sky and listen to the birds, I just don’t bird at the usual slower pace.

So Wednesday I’m walking down the Greenway Trail in Franklin at a good clip when I hear what sounds like the call of a distant Barred Owl.  At 5:45 in the afternoon?  I have heard many Barred Owls in the afternoon so it doesn’t strike me as real odd.  Sorta odd, but not unusual.  As I proceed the call is much closer and I’m sure it is the call of a closer dove, not a distant owl.  But what throws me off is the call is not that of a Mourning Dove.  It sounds like the call of the Eurasian Collared-Dove.  But that can’t be since Eurasian Collared-Doves don’t exist in Johnson County.

Eurasian Collared-Dove - Fort Lauderdale, FL - October 2013
Eurasian Collared-Dove – Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 2013

When I moved here last year I made out my initial list of birds I should see in Johnson County.  I included Eurasian Collared-Dove in the second set of birds. Birds I should see that might take a little work.  I figured that since Illinois had Eurasian Collared-Doves in every town with a grain elevator, and even most towns without elevators, I shouldn’t have a problem finding them in semi-rural Johnson County. Not so.  After a few months of hanging out at grain elevators and not seeing any, I went back and checked the status and distribution charts and maps.

From Birds of North America Online
From Birds of North America Online

And what I found is that Eurasian Collared-Doves are basically not in Indiana.  Which completely stunned me since they are all over Illinois, less than a 100 miles away.  I know they are scattered around Indiana but aren’t widespread.  And I eventually saw them last year in Indiana in towns far from Johnson County.

So you can see my surprise when walking along I heard what sounded like a Eurasian Collared-Dove.  After twisting my neck around 18 directions I finally found the bird on a power line, not a telephone line but a power line.  So it is pretty far up.  The bird looks whiter and bulkier than a Mourning Dove.  The tail looks square and dark on the underside.  But I am “bare-naked” birding and even with my new glasses I’m not 100% sure since a Eurasian Collared-Dove shouldn’t be here.  The bird eventually flies and I walk on home rethinking this “bare-naked” birding.

Thursday I have rethought “bare-naked” birding and stick my binoculars in my coat pocket, just in case.  I don’t figure on a Eurasian Collared-Dove but you never know what my turn up.  No camera though, I don’t want to be that bogged down.  So I am walking the same path and who should be at the same spot?

Eurasian Collared-Dove on the Greenway Trail.  Photo taken on phone through binocs.  03/13/14
Eurasian Collared-Dove on the Greenway Trail. Photo taken on phone through binoculars. 03/13/14

That’s right, the Eurasian Collared-Dove. And in the same spot.  I really hadn’t expected that.  So I make the ID through my binoculars and take the above ID photo through my phone and binoculars.   Phone and Binocular picture taking is something I need to practice since I only got one decent photo.

The sighting of the Eurasian Collared-Dove has really got me thinking why they aren’t in Indiana or the NE part of the country.  If anyone has an idea I would like to hear it.  I checked all my sources with no answer.  So I will probably write a post on some of my thoughts.

 

February 2014 Big Day Walk – Spring Arrives for a Day

As I posted in January I intend to do a Big Walking Day per month for exercise and fun.  With the weather looking much better for Saturday than Sunday, I headed out Saturday morning. Turned out to be a day for contradictions.

First of all, just like that, the early spring birds are back.  Not one around last weekend.  Not one.  And everywhere I went today there they were.  Red-winged Blackbirds in trees, Killdeer flying overhead, Eastern Meadowlarks singing, a lone Common Grackle, and Sandhill Cranes migrating.  Where were they last week?  I assume farther south waiting in a warmer setting.

I started out an hour before sunrise trying a spot that looked good for Eastern-screech Owls.  Really didn’t expect any luck and didn’t have any.  First bird of the day was a pair of Canada Geese that didn’t like me walking in the dark.  Then the 3 mile walk to Lowes/Walmart pond walking through residential areas I knew would be slow, so I timed it to be in the dark.

Arriving at Lowes/Walmart pond at daybreak, it was the slowest it has been all winter.  Just a few Canada Geese, American Coots, and one Common Goldeneye.  Nothing else.  Not even the Mallards or the Redheads that were there Friday.

An empty Walmart/Lowes pond.  02/22/14
An empty Walmart/Lowes pond. 02/22/14

So I moved on.  To lengthen the walk this month I walked out to the High School to bird the creek.

I couldn't resist.  Something about trees growing in strange places.  On the walk to Franklin HS. 02/22/14

I couldn’t resist. Something about trees growing in strange places. On the walk to Franklin HS. 02/22/14

I don’t know if it was all the rain we had Thursday night that evidently had made the creek overflow, but it was slow there also.  About the only thing I saw from this usual birdy spot, was a couple of First Of Year (FOY) singing Eastern Meadowlark and Red-winged Blackbirds annoyed with my presence.

First Eastern Meadowlark of the year - Singing at Franklin HS 02/22/14
First Eastern Meadowlark of the year – Singing at Franklin HS 02/22/14
This picture just shows that I am into looking at birds more than photography.  A good topic for a blog post yet to come. Red-winged Blackbird Franklin HS 02/22/14
This picture just shows that I am into looking at birds more than photography. A good topic for a blog post yet to come.
Red-winged Blackbird Franklin HS 02/22/14

Taking a different route back to Lowes/Walmart I saw a Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree.  This was great since I missed it on last month’s walk.  Also a couple of Northern Mockingbirds in a row of trees along the road. No change at the pond so now the 3 mile walk back to the north end of the Greenway Trail.

Continuing the trend of slow birding not much happened until I saw a weird looking, far off, gray cloud to the far north.  Closer scrutiny showed the cloud was a flock of 70 Sandhill Cranes! I impressed myself that my so-so eyesight picked out the cranes.  The cranes circled a couple of times, one time coming close, and then headed north. On the day I saw three flocks totaling about 200 birds.

SandHill Cranes - Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes – Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes - Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes – Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes - Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes – Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes - Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes – Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes - Over East Franklin 02/22/14
SandHill Cranes – Over East Franklin 02/22/14

The day picked up a little at Greenway Trail when a Great Blue Heron flew by.  I then picked up some of the local species I had missed, but still not many and none of the birds that had been here all winter. With my legs getting real tired, I called it a day after the north end of the trail and headed home seeing a lone Common Grackle in a tree close to our place.

So it turned out to be a day of contradictions.  Saw several FOY birds, but birds that I thought I should have seen – more waterfowl, kinglets, creepers, sparrows – weren’t around.  I walked 12 miles in 5.5 hours and saw 33 species.

I will have a recap of February later this week.

Bring on full Spring, not one day wonders!

 

 

 

 

Birding and Exercise: First Month Recap

For those of you interested I thought I would post the results of the first month of birding and exercise and compare it to what I thought I could have done birding my normal way.

I ended up seeing 43 species on my walks around the Franklin area compared to the approximately 55 species I could have seen if I would have drove down to Atterbury and Johnson County Park Area during a normal January with more open water.  With the weather cold and snowy the month didn’t offer a lot of opportunities anywhere in the county.  To rack up large species numbers, which is hardly ever my intent, I would have needed to head to SW Indiana.  So for the month of January I don’t think it mattered much if I walked or drove, the birds just weren’t around.

On the bright side I ended up losing 6 pounds on the month from a combination of walking and eating better.  Eating better consists mainly just taking sweets and chips out of my diet.  The loss of those calories plus the extra calories from walking made up the total.  I walked a total of 37 miles on 6 weekend outings plus extra miles from a couple of 2-3 mile walks during most weeks after work.

The bird of the Month - a Leucistic Canada Goose that I first saw flying over the my neighborhood and thought was a Snow Goose.
The Bird of the Month – a Leucistic Canada Goose that I first saw flying over my neighborhood and thought was a Snow Goose.

One exercise program I learned from my days of running was a plan that called for a couple of big running days per week and then shorter, easier runs in between.  That plan seems to work well for working people that can’t get out and exercise daily.  I think it will be a good routine for birding with a longer walk on the weekend days and one of the weekend nights.  To burn calories walking you need to be out for a long time and this program will provide those walks.

The plan for February will be like my previous birding but with walking.  Since I have a feel for what I can do walking and birding, I will now start looking for uncommon birds in my area and some of the more uncommon birds I missed in January.   Plus keep extending the walks to get in shape for migration season.  And hopefully lose another 5-6 pounds.

 

Birding and Exercise – January 2014 Big Walking Day

If I had planned this better I would have started to get myself in shape in December and done a Big Walking Day on January 1, before the weather headed north.  But I didn’t.  So it came down to doing the first Monthly Big Walk this weekend.   Saturday was out with its snow and 4o+MPH gusts.

Here is the reason I decided to do the Big Walk on Sunday.  Snow blowing Saturday. I had planned to walk the bike trail parallel to the road the car is on. 01/25/14
Here is the reason I decided to do the Big Walk on Sunday. Snow blowing Saturday.  I had planned to walk the bike trail parallel to the road the car is on. 01/25/14

So I headed out the door at 8:45 Sunday morning.

It still wasn’t perfect with the temperature at 20F, winds out of the south at 18, and cloudy.  But it was a heck of lot better than Saturday.  The plan was to walk the Greenway Trail which still had open water, out to Lowes/Walmart Pond with its open water, and then home.  That would be about an 8 mile walk, which is about my limit right now in winter boots.  If all worked out I should see about 35 species on that route.

Upon arriving at the trail the second bird I picked up after White-breasted Nuthatch was a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  One of the birds that was on today’s iffy list.  Continuing down the trail I picked up several woodland species plus a Brown Creeper and the resident Belted Kingfisher flying upstream, both birds on the iffy list.  Towards the end of the wooded part of the trail a Cooper’s Hawk was sitting and watching, which explained the birds being quiet.  The Cooper’s didn’t like my presence so he flew away and then I quickly picked up Northern Flicker and maybe the bird of the day – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.   A bird I really hadn’t expected to see.

YBSA Greenway Trail 012614

Brown Creeper caught taking flight,  Not sure I have ever seen one in a flight profile. Franklin Greenway Trail 01/25/14
Brown Creeper caught taking flight, Not sure I have ever seen one in a flight profile.
Franklin Greenway Trail 01/25/14

Making my way to Province Park I was seeing many of the local birds but nothing new until a Hairy Woodpecker landed in a tree above me.  It was now time to do the least fun part of the day, the segment to Walmart/Lowes Pond.   I was sitting at 26 species and figured the pond was good for 4-5 more species plus on the walk home a few more might get me to 35.  So I started the 2.5 mile walk.  And as anticipated I didn’t see anything on the segment but European Starlings and House Sparrows.  Plus a Mourning Dove.  But nothing new.

The Lowes/Walmart pond had the usual suspects – Canada Geese, Mallards, Redheads, Common Goldeneyes, and American Coots.  But nothing that hadn’t been there for the last week.  I scanned for a half hour to make sure and then started the walk home.

A few of the Redheads that have been present for a while. Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/26/14
A few of the Redheads that have been present for a while.
Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/26/14

I saw American Kestrels as planned and the other bird of the day – a Killdeer – by a small factory.  Probably the same one I saw in this area 2 weeks ago. But do you think a Red-tailed Hawk was around?  Every time I drive that area I see one or two.  I have seen them on all my walks.  I see them in my sleep. I hear them on every TV show that needs a bird call. But not one today.

Can you see the Red-tailed Hawk?  Neither can I.  There has been one present on this row of poles for the last year.  But not today. 01/26/14
Can you see the Red-tailed Hawk? Neither can I. There has been one present on this row of poles for the last year. But not today. 01/26/14

So I ended up with 32 species and walked 8.6 miles.  Species missed that I should have seen besides the Red-Tailed Hawk were American Tree and White-throated Sparrows, both seen yesterday on a scouting walk.  And I probably could have seen Horned Lark and Eastern Bluebird if I would have walked a few miles into the country.  But that wasn’t going to happen on my tired legs.  But the Sapsucker and Killdeer were both pleasant surprises.

All in all a fun day and I am sure they will be even better as I get in better shape.

 

Birding and Exercise – January Big Day

In the spirit of Ted Floyd’s Big Walk http://blog.aba.org/2013/06/the-bare-naked-big-walk.html and Greg Neise and Jeff Skrentny Illinois Monthly Big Days (See Illinois Birders’ Forum http://www.ilbirds.com/), I have decided to do a monthly self-powered Big Day this year.  I will start this month by walking but I’m sure it will turn into a Bike – Walk when the weather improves.  The forecast this Saturday is calling for a high in the 20’s with snow and wind, and Sunday a little warmer with lighter wind but still snow.  So either day I won’t be biking.

My main reason for doing a Big Day of any sort is what you may find.  Just like my earlier post on the more hours you spend in the field during a month the more species you will find http://wp.me/p3Q2lz-30, almost every Big Day I have done I have ended finding something special. I am sure it has to do with being out 10-12 hours in a day instead of the usual 3-4 hours.

A White-winged Scoter that Ted Hartzler and I found during a Big Day in Northern Illinois in March 2011.  We found it on a small pond scanning through a large flock of scaup.  Scoters are rare inland in Illinois away from Lake Michigan.
A White-winged Scoter that Ted Hartzler and I found during a Big Day in Northern Illinois in March 2011. We found it on a small pond scanning through a large flock of scaup. Scoters are rare inland in Illinois away from Lake Michigan.

The hardest part won’t be the weather or actual physical exercise, but like with all Big Days, it will be on deciding the route.  And since I will be walking there won’t be any chance to go back and hit any areas.  Plus I will probably only have one chance to visit the different habitats.  So each stop will have to pay off.

Thus far this month I have seen 41 species on my weekend walks.  So a goal of seeing 40 seems like a reasonable goal. But if the local pond freezes over in the next couple of days of below zero temperature, then I will be out of luck and 35 might be a better goal.  But if it stays open then the waterfowl might be congregated there with hopefully a large variety of different species and my final total might just surprise me!

One Step Back – Two Steps Forward

The Snow Goose I reported last week flying over my house turned out to be a leucistic Canada Goose. Darn, one step back..

I got an email from Doug Gray Sunday morning that he had seen a leucistic Canada Goose at the Lowes/Walmart pond.  He couldn’t get a photo since the weather wasn’t good.  I replied I would walk out there Sunday afternoon and see if I could get a photo.

I was hoping to see something good like a Sharp-shinned Hawk on the 3.5 mile walk through residential areas but it was very quiet.  Upon arriving the local pair of Red-tailed Hawks were sitting together in the trees east of Walmart.  The pond is still about 1/4 open water and there were an estimated 500 Canada Geese present.  The leucistic Canada Goose was obvious, sleeping by the water.  In a few minutes it awoke and went for a swim.  Obviously not a Snow Goose but I might have wondered what it was if Doug hadn’t ID it.  There are more pictures and discussion about the goose on the Birding Indiana Facebook page.

Too bad it wasn't a Snow Goose...  Still a very cool looking bird.  Leucistic Canada Goose.  Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/19/14
Too bad it wasn’t a Snow Goose… Still a very cool looking bird.
Leucistic Canada Goose. Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/19/14

So no Snow Goose on the county list.  But as is usually the case in birding, if one thing isn’t found something else is.  There were also present two American Black Ducks and two Common Goldeneyes present, new on this years county list. Two steps forward.  Both species were also a pleasant surprise since I have only seen one Goldeneye previously in the county and only one pair of Black Ducks that hung around Atterbury FWA last year.

American Black Duck.  One of two that were present Sunday, 1/19/14. Lowes/Walmart Pond.
American Black Duck. One of two that were present Sunday, 1/19/14.
Lowes/Walmart Pond.

ABDU

Do you think the Common Goldeneye would ever turn or wake up for a picture? Nope.  At least you can see the Golden Eye. Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/19/14
Do you think the Common Goldeneye would ever turn or wake up for a picture? Nope. At least you can see the Golden Eye.
Lowes/Walmart Pond 1/19/14

After viewing for about an hour and deciding there were no other species mixed in I made the 3.5 mile walk home through the snow.

After an hour of birding, the walk home often in the snow.   No sidewalks in the rural areas.  Johnson County. 1/19/14
After an hour of birding, the walk home often in the snow.
No sidewalks in the rural areas. Johnson County. 1/19/14

 

 

 

 

Birding and Exercise – Saturday, Jan. 18 – Larks, Longspurs, Crows, and an Owl

The second weekend of birding and exercise arrives and it is 16F out with a wind chill of zero.  Not as bad as the Christmas Bird Count where Darrel and I walked 4 miles on the I&M Canal in 6 inch snow in 10F  weather.  Which turned out to be a good day because we kept finding small areas of open  water and the birds were congregated there.  But today I plan to walk south and east out-of-town on roads through open agriculture fields searching for Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and hopefully Snow Buntings.  Darrel and I had the wind blocked by trees.  I will not.

So I borrow a scarf from my wife, wrap it around my neck, and head out the door at 8:15AM in multiple layers.  Really not so bad.  I also catch a break because the sun decides to come out, which was not in the forecast.

Cold Landscape - about a mile SE of town looking for larks and longspurs - that must be a glove or scarf on the left of the picture. 16F - 0F wind chill - 01/18/14
Cold Landscape – about a mile SE of town looking for larks and longspurs – that must be a glove or scarf on the left of the picture.
16F – 0F wind chill – 01/18/14

About a mile and half out-of-town I hear my first larks.  Scanning the fields I pick out a few, then a few more, and then the flock erupts out of corn stubble just south of me.  My count is 200.  They land fairly close north of the road and give me plenty of time to scan them, at least the ones not running in and out of the stubble.  I figure about one Lapland Longspur for every Horned lark.  But no buntings.  So I move on.

Another mile or so down the road is a large wooded area besides the road.  I hear a Red-headed Woodpecker calling, then a Northern Flicker.  A little farther and I run across a wave moving through the edge of the trees – chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, downies.  And thrown in is a Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Yellow-rumped warbler.  All birds I wasn’t sure I would see in January on a walk in the area.  But the best part is I have found another good habitat about a mile from my house as the American Crow flies.

One of the many cold American Robins still in the area - there must still be a food source. 01/18/14
One of the many cold American Robins still in the area – there must still be a food source. 01/18/14

After walking a couple of miles through a residential area I come to the last area that might be productive, the north end of the Greenway Trail.  Immediately three Great Blue Herons lift off from the edge of the creek.

Great Blue Heron flying away - I  need to figure out how to have the camera ready with all these clothes on.
Great Blue Heron flying away – I need to figure out how to have the camera ready with all these clothes on.

Then to the south I hear the ruckus of several crows.  Walking that way the crows begin flying towards me on the other side of the tree line and I can tell that one of them isn’t a crow but it also isn’t a Red-tailed Hawk.  Red-shouldered maybe?  They finally land back up the trail were I just came from.  I turn and run back finally catching up.  Hard running in all the clothes I had on.  The 8 crows are relentless diving and calling.  I finally make out their target through the trees.  A Great Horned Owl!  They keep pestering it for a few minutes and then the owl flies on with the crows in hot pursuit.  I never get a clear few of the owl, so no picture.  But like I tell my friends, “You can’t get action like that on TV!”

The crows were harassing the Great Horned Owl on the wrong side of the tree line for me to get a picture.  This photo is from the afternoon of 7/2/13 at Atturbury FWA.  Same scenario except I heard the calls of several Blue Jays.  Upon arrival there were 10 jays mobbing this fellow.  He sat patiently until they quieted down and then he moved on.
The crows were harassing the Great Horned Owl on the wrong side of the tree line for me to get a picture. This photo is from the afternoon of 7/2/13 at Atterbury FWA. Same scenario except I heard the calls of several Blue Jays. Upon arrival there were 10 jays mobbing this fellow. He sat patiently until they quieted down and then he moved on.

Cold and getting tired, and knowing I can’t top that action, I head home.  Three hours walking, 6.5 miles.  Another good day to be out.

 

Birding and Exercise – To Lowes/Walmart Pond

The weather on Sunday was better than Saturday.  High 30’s and clear with a slight wind.  Great day for a winter’s walk.

So after lunch I went out on another day of walking for exercise to birding locations.  Instead of my usual practice of driving.  Earlier in the morning I had run to the store so I made a quick scouting stop on the way there.  The Lowes-Walmart retaining pond had a small opening with waterfowl and since it had been my initial thought as the destination for my afternoon walk, the open water confirmed it.

I learned today that I don’t think it is always better to walk as Ted Floyd recommends after his Big Day Walk.  http://blog.aba.org/2013/06/the-bare-naked-big-walk.htm  The road from home to the pond is mostly light industrial areas and agriculture fields with lots of cars and no sidewalks.  It would have been hard to hear birds had they been there, but this time of year there aren’t many birds in those area.  I think a better practice might be to bike to some areas and walk to others.

But there was a pair of Red-tailed Hawks on territory. One letting me get close.

Red-tailed Hawk letting me get close before flying across a field to it's normal perch. Franklin 011214
Red-tailed Hawk letting me get close before flying across a field to it’s normal perch.
Franklin 011214

And a pair of American Kestrels too. But not much else on the walk besides a flock of European Starlings.  The pond was better with 10 Redheads, 10 American Coots, a lone female Hooded Merganser, a few Mallards, and 300+ Canada Geese.  I scanned the geese for a length of time but didn’t see anything like Cackling or White-fronted.

A look Lowes/Walmart pond.  Or is it the Walmart/Lowes pond.  Nothing special except there is open water while all the other local ponds are still frozen. Franklin 011214
A look Lowes/Walmart pond. Or is it the Walmart/Lowes pond? Nothing special except there is open water while all the other local ponds are still frozen.
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So after a half hour scan I started the 3.5 mile walk back home. So on the day 7 miles walked and I was out 2h and 55m.  And yes, my legs were sore at the end today.  Need those new boots and socks…