Saturday – March 8 – Finally Open Water!

Today I did the one thing I hate to do birding. Drive to a spot, bird the spot drive, hurry to the next spot, bird, repeat.  The reason I did this is because I read a post by Don Gorney on IBird about the number of waterfowl had been dropping at Geist Reservoir NE of Indianapolis.  He thought this might be the end of the wave of waterfowl since the ice is melting and the birds are moving on.  It made sense to me so I thought I had better check every pond I knew in south Johnson County if I had a chance to see most of the waterfowl species this year.

I started at Lowes/Walmart pond, moved to the ponds of NW Atterbury FWA, then the NE part of Atterbury, and then on to Driftwood SFA.  Driftwood was still frozen, so no birds there to report.

On the day I picked up 5 new species for the year – Ring-billed Gull, Tree Swallow, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, and Ruddy Duck.  The Ring-billed Gulls were on the ice at Lowes and departed shortly after sunrise.  The Tree Swallows were flying over a frozen pond at Atterbury.  The Northern Pintail were on a pond on the NW side of Atterbury.

Nothing knew had turned over at Walmart/Lowes in the last couple of days but the Long-tailed Duck remains.  While there I heard a new call that took me a minute to figure out.  The Long-tailed Duck was calling! Luckily John Wolf was there and knew the call from listening to it on his phone.

Long-tailed Duck  - Lowes 03/08/14

Long-tailed Duck – Lowes 03/08/14

He appears to be thinking, "haven't you taken enough pictures already?"  - Lowes 03/08/14

He appears to be thinking, “haven’t you taken enough pictures already?” – Lowes 03/08/14

Redhead - Lowes 03/08/14

Redhead – Lowes 03/08/14

The Canvasback and Ruddy Duck were at Pisgah Lake and took some work to see.  The plan was to walk down the RR tracks to the bridge but with the nice weather people are back to running dogs in that area.  So walking back to the bridge was out of the question unless I wanted to be accosted by beagles.  I knew another way but it would mean bushwhacking.  And not easy bushwhacking – lots of thorn bushes if I remembered right.  And I did remember right and it wasn’t easy.

Just like last week.  How to get from point A to point B through this thorny mess?  Atterbury 03/08/14

Just like last week. How to get from point A to point B through this thorny mess? Atterbury 03/08/14

But after after a while and cussing beagles under my breath, I finally reached the spot where I could observe the bridge area.  And I immediately forgot about the bushwhacking when the first birds in the binocs were a male Canvasback and a pair of Ruddy Ducks.  Both species are expected in the county but I only saw a lone female Canvasback last year.  So the male Canvasback was a treat.  There were also Bufflehead, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, and Mallards present.  So it was worth the trouble.

The rewards of BushWhacking - a Mallard, American Wigeon, and Canvasback all grouped together.  Atterbury 03/08/14

The rewards of BushWhacking – a Mallard, American Wigeon, and Canvasback all grouped together. Atterbury 03/08/14

A long distance shot of a Ruddy Duck.  Atterbury 03/08/14

A long distance shot of a Ruddy Duck. Atterbury 03/08/14

Back at the car the first of several waves of Sandhill Cranes went over.

One of several flocks of Sandhill Cranes that went over Saturday.  High Over Atterbury 03/08/14

One of several flocks of Sandhill Cranes that went over Saturday. High Over Atterbury 03/08/14

And back home the Sandhill Cranes were flying right over me.

Sandhill Cranes flying right over the house.  Franklin 03/08/14

Sandhill Cranes flying right over the house. Franklin 03/08/14

So on the day the running from place to place paid off.  But I still didn’t like it.

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