Funny how your birding perspective changes on January 1. Birds people haven’t really been interested in except on a superficial level are now important. Need to get them checked off the list so you won’t need to worry about them later in the year. I’d like to say I’m immune to that feeling but I’m not. I think keeping a list and targeting certain birds keeps one going out in the field on a regular basis.
So with that I was up early in the cold on January 1 listening for owls at Johnson County Park. And in pretty quick succession I heard an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL and a BARRED OWL at their usual locations. I started to worry about the GREAT HORNED OWLS but they finally start calling, albeit a little later than usual. With a little extra time I tried for NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL but to no avail. Since I have heard the 3 normally occurring owls for our area I will continue to try for a Northern Saw-whet.
I took a quick look at one of the local ponds before continuing on and mixed in the 400+ Mallards were 3 NORTHERN PINTAILS and 4 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. Those were the first Northern Pintails that I have seen in Johnson County in over a year. Otherwise it continues to be species sparse.
Driving on I noticed large white birds in a flooded field just north of Driftwood SWA. Luckily it was early and a holiday since this was a busy road. How often do you get a break like that? Still thinking they were Snow Geese when I got out of the car I heard the call of a Swan. Not an expert at all but it sounded like the WHOOP of a TRUMPETER SWAN instead of the barking of the Tundra’s. I watched them with cars buzzing by and then headed to Driftwood. And while at Driftwood they went flying by headed south. So I was at the right place at the right time for once.
I can’t find any other records of Trumpeter’s in Johnson County so these could be the first recorded. And as always if I have these ID’d wrong let me know.
On to Driftwood which wasn’t birdy but the water level was very high from all the recent rains. AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were the highlight with several flocks.
The rest of the day in southern Johnson County was uneventful except for a TURKEY VULTURE that was still present and the continuing migration of SANDHILL CRANES.
In the slightly unusual sightings department I saw a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK fly into a tree at the local Meijer’s store on the way home. I would say it’s an odd location but I have seen both Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks in the same area.