Birding and Exercise – Saturday, Jan. 18 – Larks, Longspurs, Crows, and an Owl

The second weekend of birding and exercise arrives and it is 16F out with a wind chill of zero.  Not as bad as the Christmas Bird Count where Darrel and I walked 4 miles on the I&M Canal in 6 inch snow in 10F  weather.  Which turned out to be a good day because we kept finding small areas of open  water and the birds were congregated there.  But today I plan to walk south and east out-of-town on roads through open agriculture fields searching for Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and hopefully Snow Buntings.  Darrel and I had the wind blocked by trees.  I will not.

So I borrow a scarf from my wife, wrap it around my neck, and head out the door at 8:15AM in multiple layers.  Really not so bad.  I also catch a break because the sun decides to come out, which was not in the forecast.

Cold Landscape - about a mile SE of town looking for larks and longspurs - that must be a glove or scarf on the left of the picture. 16F - 0F wind chill - 01/18/14

Cold Landscape – about a mile SE of town looking for larks and longspurs – that must be a glove or scarf on the left of the picture.
16F – 0F wind chill – 01/18/14

About a mile and half out-of-town I hear my first larks.  Scanning the fields I pick out a few, then a few more, and then the flock erupts out of corn stubble just south of me.  My count is 200.  They land fairly close north of the road and give me plenty of time to scan them, at least the ones not running in and out of the stubble.  I figure about one Lapland Longspur for every Horned lark.  But no buntings.  So I move on.

Another mile or so down the road is a large wooded area besides the road.  I hear a Red-headed Woodpecker calling, then a Northern Flicker.  A little farther and I run across a wave moving through the edge of the trees – chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, downies.  And thrown in is a Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Yellow-rumped warbler.  All birds I wasn’t sure I would see in January on a walk in the area.  But the best part is I have found another good habitat about a mile from my house as the American Crow flies.

One of the many cold American Robins still in the area - there must still be a food source. 01/18/14

One of the many cold American Robins still in the area – there must still be a food source. 01/18/14

After walking a couple of miles through a residential area I come to the last area that might be productive, the north end of the Greenway Trail.  Immediately three Great Blue Herons lift off from the edge of the creek.

Great Blue Heron flying away - I  need to figure out how to have the camera ready with all these clothes on.

Great Blue Heron flying away – I need to figure out how to have the camera ready with all these clothes on.

Then to the south I hear the ruckus of several crows.  Walking that way the crows begin flying towards me on the other side of the tree line and I can tell that one of them isn’t a crow but it also isn’t a Red-tailed Hawk.  Red-shouldered maybe?  They finally land back up the trail were I just came from.  I turn and run back finally catching up.  Hard running in all the clothes I had on.  The 8 crows are relentless diving and calling.  I finally make out their target through the trees.  A Great Horned Owl!  They keep pestering it for a few minutes and then the owl flies on with the crows in hot pursuit.  I never get a clear few of the owl, so no picture.  But like I tell my friends, “You can’t get action like that on TV!”

The crows were harassing the Great Horned Owl on the wrong side of the tree line for me to get a picture.  This photo is from the afternoon of 7/2/13 at Atturbury FWA.  Same scenario except I heard the calls of several Blue Jays.  Upon arrival there were 10 jays mobbing this fellow.  He sat patiently until they quieted down and then he moved on.

The crows were harassing the Great Horned Owl on the wrong side of the tree line for me to get a picture. This photo is from the afternoon of 7/2/13 at Atterbury FWA. Same scenario except I heard the calls of several Blue Jays. Upon arrival there were 10 jays mobbing this fellow. He sat patiently until they quieted down and then he moved on.

Cold and getting tired, and knowing I can’t top that action, I head home.  Three hours walking, 6.5 miles.  Another good day to be out.

 

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