When we moved to Indiana we ended up in Franklin. This was close enough to Indianapolis but also near Johnson County Park and Atterbury FWA. So I could be birding in 10-15 minutes.
I think I have expressed my views on urban birding more than once. But I have come to realize I dislike driving to “distant” birding spots even more than urban birding. Why drive when I can see basically the same birds in my own immediate area. And by “distant” I mean anything over 15 minutes or so.
The other thing I have realized is it’s not the urban birding I dislike but more the number of people in the area I’m birding. That’s what was appealing about Johnson County Park and Atterbury FWA. There’s basically no one there in the morning hours. Except doing hunting season at Atterbury.
The key I have found to urban birding is to find a spot where there aren’t many people to disrupt my birding. There’s still the background noise of cars, trucks, and planes but at Johnson County Park and Atterbury FWA there was always the background noise of the military training. Which could be quite loud at times.
Since I have found a spot to bird without many people or dog walkers I’m basically going to bird a small radius around my residence. The radius is similar to the one I had in Franklin that included Johnson County Park and Atterbury FWA. The habitat will just be different.
The drive now is around 10 minutes to start birding (if not birding the condo property) opposed to 35 minutes to Johnson County Park. You can do the math to figure how much extra time I’ll have over a year by birding locally. I’ll still help on the Johnson County Big May Day and Christmas Bird Count but the bulk of my birding will be southern Marion and northern Johnson Counties.
Will I see as many species? No. But I bet I see 90%+ of the birds I saw over my first three years birding the more rural area. It will also give me a chance to explore (i.e. “bushwhack”) new habitats and see if I can find certain species on a regular basis in an urban habitat. Like Red-headed Woodpecker and Horned Lark.
I have already found most of the needed habitats within a few miles – deep woods, shorebirds, a migrant trap, and grasslands.
Still working on that elusive wetland area though.