Recap – Indiana Audubon Society Field Trip to Atterbury FWA

I am always glad when I can start the recap of an outing and say the birds were good instead of “at least we had good weather”, which we did, or “the camaraderie was good”, which it was, or “the food was good”, which it was. Because when the first thing you see in a recap is one of the latter three, then you know the birding wasn’t good. About the only negative I have is that I think some of the birds I started seeing at the end of last April are still not here. Hopefully soon.

First, I would like to thank Doug Gray for organizing and leading the trip.  The fifteen birders spent approximately the first hour at the north side of Pisgah Lake for warblers and vireos, second hour at Coyote Marsh for Henslow’s Sparrows, and the third hour at Johnson County Park for Bell’s Vireo and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Eying a Henslow's Sparrow - IAS Atterbury Trip 04/26/14
Eying a Henslow’s Sparrow – IAS Atterbury Trip 04/26/14

Some highlights from my perspective were Blue-winged, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and FOY Common Yellowthroat Warblers plus Warbling, FOY Red-eyed, and White-eyed Vireos at Pisgah. A rare Johnson County fly over Double-crested Cormorant was also seen.  We did get to see a couple of Henslow’s at Coyote Marsh plus a couple of fly by Green Herons. And at Johnson County Park we struck out on Bell’s Vireo but got great looks at a Prairie Warbler and Eastern Kingbird. I will let others decide but I don’t think we were hearing Yellow-breasted Chat, sounded like a distant Brown Thrasher to me. And I will have to go over the final list once Doug sends it out since I am sure I missed some.

Once in a while I get a decent photo.  Yellow Warbler Atterbury 04/25/14
Once in a while I get a decent photo. Yellow Warbler Atterbury 04/25/14

We also saw a big snake sunning on a branch.

Not very well seen, but can someone ID the snake from the photo? Atterbury 04/26/14
Not very well seen, but can someone ID the snake from the photo? Atterbury 04/26/14

A few things I learned from helping Doug lead the trip.

I should have scouted the days before to see if the Bell’s Vireo / Yellow-breasted Chat had returned yet.  I know they were there last year but it doesn’t mean they will be this year.

Review the expected birds for Central Indiana in a field guide before migration and especially before a field trip.  I was asked at one point about the head description of the Prairie Warbler and froze.  All I could think about was a Yellow Warbler.  I don’t know if it is because I rely so much on my hearing, the fact I have been studying birds of different areas for upcoming trips, or as one recent study suggests as we age our brain fills up with data and it is harder to retrieve info.  I like the latter idea but the truth is I should review our local birds constantly.

I was asked a couple of times about the destruction of former park habitat that was traded back to the military for park land elsewhere and the impact on it has had on birding. I once again did not have a good answer but will research it and write a post later about it. I should have had an answer.

Photos.  Don’t try to take photos and help on a field trip.

If anyone wants to come back and try for the mentioned species, or any other species let me know.  I bird the area almost ever weekend.

And I was sorry I had to leave just a little early but I was helping in the afternoon on a Great Blue Heron Rookery count on a piece of property of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

And lastly, I would like to thank Sally because the food was good, and I am just not saying that because. Especially the brownie I ate. Or was it two?




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