Since I have now completed my BBS routes and finished helping on a couple other local breeding surveys I took the opportunity to work on my Johnson County IAS Summer Bird Count. The last few years I have been around the 100 species mark and since I was already at 90, I knew it would be tough to add species. With work being demanding the last few weeks I decided to go after EASY additions Saturday.
With sunrise at 6:15 that meant one more Saturday up by 4AM and out by 4:30AM. That put me at Atterbury FWA a little after 5AM. But even before I got there I had a GREAT HORNED OWL fly in front of my car while driving though Franklin. Right time. Right Place.
The first stop which is iffy anyway didn’t produce any owls. But the more reliable spot had 3 EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS flying around for over 10 minutes. In case you’re wondering I usually play a recording for about 1 minute and that’s it. This time it was about 30 seconds when the first one started calling.
Not even 6AM and I had added two species to the count.
Before heading to Driftwood I checked the pond in Johnson County Park. Again right place and time. No sooner than I stopped than a KILLDEER started hassling a SPOTTED SANDPIPER. Plus another easy addition was a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER calling in the distance. Two more easy species for the count.
On to Driftwood, no Double-crested Cormorant but a fly by Red-headed Woodpecker was nice.
To the Dark Road of Atterbury. No Black-billed Cuckoo calling as hoped but a young AMERICAN REDSTART was interested in me.
I then decided to walk back and take a long shot check to see if any rails were in the marshy area. By now the sun was up and it was getting hot. As expected no rails or much else of anything.
So with the heat rising and nothing calling I headed home. But first a stop by the PURPLE MARTIN house for a list easy species.
I’ll take the 5 easy additions since the birds were done calling by mid-morning. It’ll now by one species at a time until the last week of July when I can hope for an influx of shorebirds.
Labor Day means it’s that time of year when I make the switch from birding state parks that allow hunting to city or state parks that do not allow hunting. Looking back I have always done this in one form or another. Not sure if my birding suffers in the fall but I don’t have to worry about getting shot.
So I birded Southeastway Regional Park, Ft. Harrison State Park, and Franklin Township Park over the Labor Day weekend. All are located within the city limits of Indianapolis, which means no hunting.
Franklin Township Park isn’t the most birdy spot I visit but on a Sunday or holiday when there aren’t any school activities or soccer games the birding can be OK.
I realized Monday that I like it because it has a good 1.25 mile loop that takes about an hour and a half to walk.
And I have noticed over the years that I like nothing better than a birding loop that takes about 60-90 minutes.
I have tried out-and-back birding trails – like abandoned rail lines that are now trails – but they always seem to be boring on the way back. Even if I leave a bicycle at one end to ride back. When I used to run my favorites were loops, not out-and-back runs. My favorite loop took 75 minutes over a mixture of varying hills and flats. There is just something I don’t like about seeing the same territory twice. I guess it goes with wanting to see something new.
One good thing about an hour loop is that I feel I can take my time and see the birds. There is no hurry because the loop isn’t large. Unlike large loops or out-and-back trails that you aren’t ever sure where to stop.
I think the best thing about loops that take approximately 60-90 minutes is that you can get it done and call it a day. Usually with some good birding.
Or if you desire you can move on to another loop of equal length or your favorite spot to stop and scan gulls or shorebirds. And it still won’t take up your whole day.
A loop that is shorter than 60 minutes usually leaves me wanting for more. And when I bird all day I never seem to remember much about the birds or even where I saw them. On those long days all the birds just seem like a tick on a list. It takes an effort to remember each bird unlike the hour loop were I can usually remember and enjoy the birds as I enter them into eBird.
So there’s my case for doing loops a little over a mile in about 60-90 minutes. They just seem to fit.
Wish I had more to write about, but I don’t. Between sitting in a training class last week or driving to the training class, the creative juices weren’t flowing.
Plus what free time I have is going to learning the birds of Colorado. The western slope of the Rockies to be exact. I fly out next weekend for 6 days around the Grand Junction area. I plan on trying to make a daily post but that might be a little to ambitious. At that time I’ll go into more detail how I picked that area to see birds of the U.S. “Great Basin”.
NO photos from this weekend. Along with Mike and Karl we did the annual breeding census on the military side of Camp Atterbury. No cameras allowed on the military base, so no photos. Karl had done the east side on Friday which is mostly grasslands and had a good count of 35 Henslow’s Sparrows. We did the forested west side and some how came up with the same number of Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds, and American Redstarts – 17. The count on the Hooded is the highest ever for this count. With the high temperatures the birds stopped calling early so we didn’t have as good of day as past years. Oh well.
If you have been following this blog then you know that taken photos is not my main objective in birding. But I still like to get a good photo once in a while. Especially of birds that I don’t get a chance to photograph often.
Mike and I were birding a local park a week ago Saturday when I noticed something flitting through the trees. My first thought was that it was a warbler but we had only seen one warbler that morning, an American Redstart.
But I stayed on the moving bird and from it’s shape I could tell it was a vireo. And a Blue-headed Vireo at that! As seen in the following Indiana Bar Chart from eBird, we see less Blue-headed Vireos in Indiana than all vireos except Philadelphia Vireos .
We got to watch the bird for a good length of time. But as I stated it was working its way though the trees like a warbler, not offering much of a chance for a photo. Mike thinks since the trees had hardly budded there wasn’t much to eat so it kept moving searching for food.
Finally it stopped for a second and I got to take two photos. First the usual photo – nothing.
And sometimes you’re Just Plain Lucky. Definitely click the photo for larger view.
I will probably go the rest of my life and not get a better photo, maybe even a view, of a Blue-headed Vireo.