20 Minutes Saturday – 5 Species of Raptors

I spent Saturday birding Johnson County.  Something I needed to do since I had only been getting in an hour here and there on the weekends.

I probably had one of the best hours I have had in a long time.  Really about 20 minutes. I had gone to the old wooden platform at Honker Haven in Atterbury FWA to observe shorebirds, but ended up watching raptors.  The time was from 11:30 to 12:15.  The raptors came from 11:45 to 12:05.  Prime thermal time.

1. Red-Shouldered Hawk – After counting the initial 30 Killdeer without any other shorebirds, it was quiet.  Fifteen minutes later a Red-shouldered Hawk flew the length of the pond being chased by blackbirds.  It landed in a distant tree calling for a few minutes.  But it made all the Killdeer fly giving a much better count – 80.  Once again I am amazed at the number of birds we don’t see and count…

2. Bald Eagle – One came in slowly circling from the west giving good views.

Bald Eagle – pretty high up that I had to lighten the photo – Atterbury FWA. 11/10/14

3. Turkey Vultures – A flock of 25 drifted slowly north to south.  This poor follow came close enough for a photo.  Molting problems buddy?

Turkey Vulture – Atterbury FWA. 11/10/14

4.  Red-tailed Hawks – A pair came circling in about the same path the Bald Eagle had come, but much higher.

5. Cooper’s Hawk – Lastly one came flying through that put all the Killdeer up again.  Checked and still no other shorebirds. The Cooper’s then decided, without telling me, that it was going  to fly along the tree line parallel to the viewing stand.  It came screaming by about 5 feet in front of the platform.  Needless to say giving me a start.

This all happened in about 20 minutes.  And like that it was over.  But the birding was not.

Other highlights:

  • FOS Male and female Redhead at the Greenwood Retaining Ponds. Too early in the day for a photo.
  • The continuing Great Egrets at Honker Haven. Not much habitat in JC for them. GREG
  • A lone Chimney Swift at Johnson County Park – Getting late.
  • Two House Wrens at Johnson County Park – Also getting late.
  • FOS White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Also at JCP.

And lastly – One of our largest and smallest water species together.

Big Bird Small Bird
Mute Swan and Pied-billed Grebe. JCP 10/11/14

Later this week, why I am back birding Johnson County.

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