Summer is Here

What follows is a pretty lame travelog type report from my birding Saturday morning.  I didn’t see any migrants or anything else uncommon this past weekend, though the Great Horned Owl was cool, so I’m going to assume that summer is officially here.  I did check a couple of spots for a White-rumped Sandpiper, usually the last of the migrants, but no shorebirds of any type were seen, not even a Spotted.  The ponds where I saw Spotted last year are very high from the recent rains.  Hopefully Spotted Sandpipers were just quiet sitting on nests and haven’t moved elsewhere.

But as usual I still had a good time this weekend.  After reading Roger Hedge’s report Friday on IN-BIRD about a Black-billed Cuckoo in Boone county, I decided to start on the west side of Atterbury in a spot I have head one call at dawn each of the last 2 years.  On the way out Saturday I came across a Great Horned Owl just south of Franklin.  This is probably the same bird that was my first bird of the year.

Great Horned Owl at dawn Saturday

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Also on the way to Atterbury I stopped by a freshly cut hay field where I heard Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows.  Which was a good thing since later that morning I found out that the field that holds Bobolinks had been cut. Not sure where I will see one for the IAS Summer Count.

On the west side of Atterbury there wasn’t a Black-billed Cuckoo but plenty of high, wet, grass to walk through.

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Did I say wet? My clothes finally dried out when I got home a little after noon.  Anyway I got good looks at Barn and Tree Swallows and a Willow Flycatcher at the parking lot when I returned from my walk through the tall, wet, unproductive grass.

Barn Swallows

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Tree Swallow

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Willow Flycatcher – giving the “fitz-bew” call the whole time.

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From there I moved on to the  previously mentioned Bobolink field.  On the way a Henslow’s Sparrow was given good, if distant, looks.

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From there I spent the remainder of the morning at Driftwood SFA watching the comings and goings of Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Warbling Vireos, Willow Flycatchers, American Robins and a host of other birds.

Another Willow Flycatcher showing it’s yellowish lower mandible.

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Mother Kingbird on nest. This was a distant shot so I wouldn’t upset her.

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Orchard Oriole nest.  It was fun to watch the parents return and the young ones head pop out for food. Someday my photo skills will improve so I can catch that moment.

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And I went out for a while Sunday after the rain and checked a couple of spots for breeding Blue-winged Teal.  No luck but I about lost my head from a couple of Tree Swallows that didn’t like me getting with 30-40 meters of their nest in a bluebird box. They were constantly diving within an inch or two of my head which kept me moving at a pretty fast pace.  The only bird that poised for a picture was an Eastern Phoebe who didn’t call or pump it’s tail much.

Eastern Phoebe – I think it was getting tired of me taking notes and watching it flycatch for a half hour. Thus the hard stare in my direction.

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Not much else to report since I have been spending most of my free time getting ready for my first trip to The Rio Grande area later this month.  You’ve gotta love a bird named Plain Chachalaca.

Roger Hedge
Roger Hedge

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