Laura Hare Preserve in the Summer & an Osprey

First of all, what are the odds on seeing an Osprey in Johnson County in June?  And what are the odds of seeing one almost exactly a year later after Mike Clay and I saw one last June? But first the rest of the day.

Don’t let anyone tell you that birding is not a dangerous activity. We have all heard of people falling into lakes and rivers while birding. Or sliding down into ravines. Or getting lost and having to spend the night in the forest unprepared. Or sliding backwards down steep hills in their cars during Christmas Bird Counts. OK, I have only heard that story once but it was a good story.

So Saturday morning I am watching a pair of White-eyed Vireos when I hear a deer coming down the path. Now if you read my first entry about Laura Hare Preserve, then you know that at the beginning of the trail there is a steep incline. Well the deer, or two as it turns out, were hauling butt down the hill. They haven’t seen me yet since the trail takes a little turn at the base. And when they come around the corner they see me. Now this is all happening in about 5 seconds so I really haven’t grasped what is going on. The first deer gets about 10 feet from me, it seemed much closer, and I wave my sketchbook and yell something like “Owwwww”. The first deer veers left and takes a big leap into the lake. The second deer veers right and runs through a small, marshy area. Me, I am counting my good luck that the deer jumped into the lake because now a mother Wood Duck and young ones come out for a good view. Well I eventually get the good look when my heart slows down. Now the second deer has run around me through the marsh and has come out down the trail. The first deer I assumed swam to the other side of the lake, with the lake being probably 20-30 meters wide at this point. Anyway I assume it was OK because I heard a lot of snorting coming from the other side after a couple of minutes. At least I assumed it was the first deer and not the second deer. Deer can swim, right?

The rest of the morning didn’t disappoint from a birding point of view. Laura Hare had numerous Worm-eating Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, and even a couple of Kentucky Warblers. Numerous Wood Thrushes were seen walking along the trail. Yes, they were walking on the trail. About all the species you would expect from the deep woods except I whiffed on Hooded Warbler. But I know they are there since Tom, Ann, and Karl reported them a week or so ago. Sorry, only one picture since I haven’t figured out how to take pictures in the dark woods. Yet.

Louisiana Waterthrush


I then proceeded to the Iron Bridge Road at Atterbury in hopes of adding Cerulean Warbler to the Johnson County IAS Summer Count. Never did see any Cerulean but heard 3 on the morning. With the cooler temps the birds were still calling into the late morning. I also had a female Summer Tanager land on the road a few feet ahead of me. She was a dark mustard yellow with a large bill. No hint of black in the wing. My National Geographic calls her color “ochre” yellow. Sorry, but I am not familiar with the color “ochre”. And my mother was from the south.

One of two White-breasted Nuthatches that kept coming around.


I had better views of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo but it wouldn’t come down for pictures.


After a couple of hours there I went by Pisgah Lake to see if anything uncommon was there. As I pulled into the parking lot a big bird was flying slowly west to east. First thought was Red-tailed Hawk. Now parking at a 45 degree angle in the middle of the lot and looking out the window, maybe a Bald Eagle, this is a big bird. Finally out of the car, seeing that it looks like a large gull flying, and getting the binocs on it, it’s apparent it’s a Osprey. It flies to the end of the lake, circles, and comes back by heading west over the trees. I wait 45 minutes but it does not appear again. So what is an Osprey doing in Johnson County in June for the second year in a row? Is it nesting in the area and I am just not out in the field often enough to see it? Or is it just a coincidence. But like the TV detective says, I don’t like coincidences. I will continue to look for it this summer.

A few pictures on the day.

Male Orchard Oriole seen on the day.


Bathing Baltimore Oriole.

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A Great Egret that has been hanging the pond at work and a Great Blue Heron from Pisgah Lake. I wonder what the Great Egret is checking out.  Nothing usually around that exciting except a lot of Canada Geese.

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Enlarged view of the Great Egret and Great Blue Heron’s heads – check out the eyes.






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