Back to Bushwhacking – Johnson County 1/31/15

In the last few months I have drifted away what I like to do most in birding – bird the local area. And I have come to miss the familiarity of the local haunts.

So with that I went back to Johnson County Saturday to bird the spots I have spent the majority of the last two years.

I arrived an hour and fifteen minutes before sunrise and immediately had an Eastern Screech-Owl at one of the usual spots. I don’t know if it is me but I it wasn’t very far away and I still couldn’t find it with a flashlight.  The other usual Eastern Screech-Owl spot was silent. As was the usual Barred Owl site. I’m not having much luck with Barred Owls this year.

There were numerous Red-tailed Hawks on territory including one dark juvenile that had me thinking Rough-legged.  The local crows started to harass it which prevented me from getting a decent photo.

The bulk of the day was spent at Johnson County Park since there were still many hunters at Atterbury FWA. I spent several hours walking looking for sparrows and bushwhacking through thickets checking for owl whitewash before the snow came.  I didn’t find any whitewash but in the past it has paid off several times.  I came across a couple of good sized flocks of sparrows with the first flock consisting of several White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows.

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White-crowned Sparrow JC Park 01/31/15

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Same bird as above looking dapper.

While standing in some small saplings observing the White-crowned Sparrows, three American Kestrels came screaming by chasing each other and almost hit me.  My guess is they were only two to three feet above my head.  They landed on a power line across the road, all three still calling at each other.  One then flew to a nearby tree and kept calling.  They all eventually moved on with the one still calling.

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Two of the three American Kestrels on wires, the other having moved on to a nearby tree. JC park 01/31/15

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The third Kestrel just to the north, and still calling. JC Park 01/31/15

I did manage to record one of the American Kestrels that kept calling.

Audio of the American Kestrel calling close to me. Turn up your volume to hear. ( A Downy Woodpecker and Carolina Chickadee thought they would get in their 2 cents also)

Before I came upon the second flock of sparrows I was walking through a grass field that had a section plowed.  I kept hearing what I thought were Horned Larks.  The spot looked good for Horned Larks but the area is surrounded by miles of woods, not farm land.  So I was puzzled.  I scanned the area several times but did not see any larks.

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Are there Horned larks out there? JC park 1/31/15

Moving on to the brushy area on the other side I came upon a flock of American Tree Sparrows.  So the question is does the song of a flock of Tree Sparrows sound like the tingled song of a Horned Larks at a distance?

A little later while watching the flock of sparrows I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk in the distance.  It then got near enough that I could see it in the thicket.  It was a Blue Jay imitating the Red-shouldered Hawk.  No, it was practicing imitating a Red-shouldered Hawk because the hawk was still calling off and on in the distance.

Audio of a Blue Jay practicing its imitation of a Blue Jay. If you listen hard enough you can hear the distant, real Red-shouldered Hawk at 10 seconds.

I didn’t find anything unusual at Johnson County Park but did hear a Killdeer, which in itself isn’t unusual but I hadn’t heard one since the first of the month,

I then stopped by Walmart/Lowes Pond in Franklin on the way home.  On the limited amount of open water there was a pair of Common Goldeneye to go with the Canada Geese, Mallards, and American Coots.

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Local birds at Lowes/Walmart pond. Franklin 01/31/15

It was a good day to be out and looking for the local birds.

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5 Responses to Back to Bushwhacking – Johnson County 1/31/15

  1. Matthew says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t either audio clip to play.

    WC Sparrows are so beautiful – wish we had them overwinter here!

    • BobC says:

      When living in North-Central Illinois it was hit or miss on White-crowned Sparrows. Just depended what the winter was like.

      Out of curiosity what browser were you using? This was my first attempt at audio. So I went looking and found out the following:

      Chrome natively supports: .mp3, .m4a, .wav, and .ogg.
      Safari natively supports: .mp3, .m4a, .wav, but not .ogg (which will display a download link).
      Firefox natively supports: .wav and .ogg, but not .mp3 and .m4a (which will both display a download link).
      Opera natively supports: .wav and .ogg, but not .mp3 and .m4a (which will both display a download link).
      Internet Explorer natively supports: .mp3, but not .m4a, .wav, and .ogg (which will all display a download link).

      These are .wav files and I was using Firefox, so I heard them. I can’t when trying IE. If I buy the premium WordPress it will play more formats.

      Bob

      • Matthew says:

        Ok, I just tried it at home and it worked fine on Google Chrome. At work is where I had the issue and it’s IE….I believe version 10. It didn’t give me any download option for IE.

        Nice work on the audio!!! That’s a cool feature to add to your blog.

  2. Mike says:

    Glad there was a goldeneye at Lowe’s. That is a good bird for the county.

    • BobC says:

      I only had a a couple other waterfowl – Hooded Mergansers at Irwin Park and one other Goldeneye at the boat ramp on Atterbury’s east side.

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