Mourning Warbler Call

Before I get to Monday’s frustrating Mourning Warbler call I’ll give a quick recap of Saturday’s birding.

Since I’m not sure I’ll get to Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow before the breeding season is in full swing I headed there Saturday morning. The hope was to see the expected deep forest warblers not available in the rest of Johnson County while they’re still calling. The targeted species of Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, and Louisiana Waterthrush were seen or heard. Which were three of the four. But never even a hint of a Hooded Warbler, which is usually calling in the woods.

Looks like something or someone doesn’t like the sign at the entrance? Any ideas what might cause the holes?
Always a pleasant hike through the wooded landscape.

The other deep wood species were out in full force. Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, Acadian Flycatcher, and Eastern-wood Pewee were everywhere. But with the clouds and trees, no photos.

On to Monday and the Mourning Warbler call.

The day started at the local grassland listening for Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink. My thought was the truck traffic from I65 would be less on a holiday. No such luck. With the wind out of the NW it made listening tough. So no Grasshopper Sparrow.

At least one Bobolink has returned to the local grassland. Now if they can breed before the grass is mowed.
Dickcissels seemed to be everywhere I turned.

On to Franklin Township Community Park for general birding. First thing out of the car I heard a Black-throated Green Warbler calling across the road, otherwise it was quiet. I made the rounds constantly fighting off mosquitoes.  Around 10AM a couple of Barred Owls started calling. I figured they were complaining about the mosquitoes.

An Acadian Flycatcher in the deeper woods.  Note the eye-ring and wing-bar.
This Brown Thrasher was telling the world this is his area. Keep out!

Mourning Warbler Call

Right after the owls I heard an out-of-place call. I was aware enough to know it was one of the uncommon warblers and it didn’t take long to place it as a Mourning Warbler.

There is a reason field guides describe Mourning Warbler as a skulker, or always hidden in deep undergrowth. It never comes out to give a look.

I listened for over 3 minutes but the skulker never appeared. Darn.

 

A portion of a long recording of the Mourning Warbler calling. Listen around 2 and 9 seconds for the call.

 

While waiting for the Mourning Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo jumped out to see what was going on.
Mourning Warbler call
One of three Eastern Phoebes grouped in a small clearing.

Now it’s on to the best time of year. Breeding Counts. Stayed tuned.

Bobolink Update

I was going to title this post “To the Mall” but that didn’t pan out, so I stuck with Bobolink Update.

And let me reiterate my position, even in the so-called “slow times”, there is always something going on if you get out the door.

I actually slept in until 4:30 this Saturday so I could be to the mall at 5:30. The first thing I noticed was the dawn chorus of robins was gone. I thought it was less last week but this week it was gone.

I picked the mall in hopes a COMMON NIGHTHAWK might have used its flat roof for nesting. Wikipedia states the mall was built in 1966 so I was hopeful the roof was still gravel as opposed to the modern rubber roof. The mall went in for a major change in 2003 so maybe it has a rubber roof. But it didn’t have any nighthawks around I could hear.

On to Franklin High School in hopes of photographing the continuing WILSON’S SNIPE. I was doing good on sneaking up to the spot I encountered one last week when a bee went down my shirt. It must have been comical watching me strip off layers in shoulder-high wet weeds. So much for getting a photo. Walking back to the car I flushed a snipe in a completely different part of the marsh. Did it move from the recent rains and ensuing high water?

On to a known VESPER SPARROW spot that was still needed for the IAS Summer Count. The spot is by a low spot which sometimes holds shorebirds. Upon arriving there was water, 55 MALLARDS, and a LESSER YELLOWLEGS. All flushed when I opened the car door and I wasn’t even close. A Spotted Sandpiper also flushed in the mass exit. The yellowlegs is the earliest fall shorebird I have ever had in the county. But it helps to have water in July for shorebirds. And I did hear two Vesper Sparrows calling in the distance.

Still no photos on the day.

On to Atterbury FWA were I saw a distant RINGED-NECKED PHEASANT heading to the brush.

RNEP
Ring-necked Pheasant

A few photos of other locals from Atterbury.

INBU
Indigo Bunting
OROR
Orchard Orioles – there were three but I could never get them in the same photo.
WIFL
Willow Flycatcher

Down at Pisgah Lake were I watched swallows harassing a Red-shouldered Hawk.

RSHA
Tree Swallow(?) attacking a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Bobolink Update

The Bobolink are still at the now partially mowed field at Atterbury. I saw two on the day and heard Grasshopper Sparrows calling. What we could have if man wouldn’t intervene?

BOBO FIELD
The mowing must have pushed the Bobolink closer allowing me to finally get some decent photos.

BOBO (3)

BOBO (4)

BOBO (7)

BOBO (1) Bobolink Update
Finally, a decent Bobolink photo!

On the way home I noticed the field in Greenwood that still has Bobolinks was getting mowed. It will be seen if they stay.

On the day I added three species for the IAS Summer Count – Vesper Sparrow, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Ring-necked Pheasant.

Plus, I saw three raptors getting assailed. The fore mentioned Red-shoulder Hawk, an American Kestrel stirred up 50 Barn Swallows when it attacked a barn, and an Eastern Kingbird pecking away while riding the back of a Red-tailed Hawk.

Eventually I’m going to remember I have a video function on the camera.

Summer Count – Snipe and Collared-Doves

Yesterday was my official start of the IAS Summer Count for Johnson County. If interested you can read about participating in the count at the IAS webpage or on IN-Bird.

The highlight of the day was finding WILSON’S SNIPE at a local “marshy” area. Even though I knew it was a late date for snipe my research has led to a separate blog that I will post in a day or two.

Other Highlights

An EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE was at the previous known spot in Franklin. I check this every trip to Atterbury and haven’t seen one since late June of last year. Conservatively saying I stop two times a month that means I have checked a minimum of 20 times without seeing one. Now they are on the IAS Summer Count for the County.

ECOD (1)
An early morning photo to document the Eurasian Collared-Dove in Franklin. 6/4/16

Another species I added which hasn’t been on my previous three years of participating was a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER. It was at the same location Mike and I saw one on April 30th. I’m guessing it’s on territory since it’s still present.

BWWA (2)
Blue-winged Warbler – Atterbury FWA 4/30/16

There are a couple of spots in the county I know that have breeding PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS. With the grass now shoulder-high I bushwhacked back to one location and it didn’t take long to hear one calling.

PROW (5)
This Prothonotary Warbler was actively feeding but wouldn’t stay put for a photo. Atterbury FWA 6/4/16
PROW (2)
From tree to stick and back. Then into the forest to sit and sing. Atterbury FWA 6/4/16

There were also breeding WOOD DUCKS in the swampy area.

SWAMP (2)
This is the area of the Prothonotary Warbler and numerous breeding Wood Ducks. The Wood Ducks scattered when I came out of the trees. Atterbury FWA 6/4/16

I had unofficially started the count earlier this week with a stop at the new BOBOLINK location to make sure I counted them before the grass was cut. DICKCISSELS were also calling from the tall grass.

BOBO (3)
Someday I will get a good photo of a Bobolink. Urban Johnson County 6/2/16
DICK (3)
As I have seen lately on Facebook Dickcissels are much more obligating for taking photos. Urban Johnson County 6/2/16

DICK (5)

NRWS (1) Start of Summer Count
I couldn’t resist this photo of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow. The head reminds me of an alien in a science-fiction movie. Atterbury FWA 6/4/16

I spent over an hour walking the River Road hoping to hear a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No luck. But I did hear YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS and AMERICAN REDSTARTS, a species I didn’t have a June location previously.

Sunday I made my semi-annual trip to the local BALD EAGLE’S nest. It’s on the other side of the county and there isn’t any reason for me to go except to see the eagles. Looks like a good year with at least two juveniles in the nest.

BAEA NEST (2)
The tall tree in the center hosts the Bald Eagle’s nest. Johnson County 6/5/16
BAEA (6)
Like any children the young eagles appeared to be fighting over food on several occasions. Johnson County 6/5/16
BAEA (1)
This was the best of the photos showing one of the young eagles. Johnson County 6/5/16

It was good start to the Summer Count with 70+ species over the three days.

Bobolink – 2nd JC Location

As the About page of this blog states, I like searching for uncommon birds in my area. Like this past weekend when I found a second spot for BOBOLINK in Johnson County. The other known spot being at Atterbury FWA.

Back in December I posted about the loss of grassland area at the corner of I-65 and County Line Road. Well the field is still grassland and there is no sign of development. So Sunday I checked the field to see if DICKCISSEL had returned.  Dickcissel were present along with calling GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS.

But the big surprise were Bobolink.

BOBO (6)
One problem with Bobolink is they seem to be distant and never looking my direction. Urban Johnson County 5/29/16
BOBO
Same problem at Atterbury, the Bobolink are way out in the field and facing away. I now know how to ID one from behind. Atterbury FWA 5/28/16
Bobolink
As seen on this range map Central Indiana is on the southern edge of Bobolink’s breeding range. So finding them after mid-May is hit or miss. Range map from xeno-canto.

I remember even though we were farther north in Illinois Bobolink were uncommon because of lack of grasslands in our agriculture county. Thus I had very few photos from Illinois.

Bobolink
One of my few close photos. Rural LaSalle County, IL 5/8/2009

In Illinois I used to take an annual trip to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie to see Bobolink, Upland Sandpiper, and Loggerhead Shrike. And for the record on the last couple of visits the Upland Sandpiper weren’t present.

Bobolink 061209
At Midewin they were abundant and one could get close by walking the trails. 6/12/2009
Female Bobolink
Even the females were easy to ID at Midewin since they would be in the trees along the trails.

The question now is will the owners of the local grasslands cut the grass so the Bobolink have to leave? The Bobolink Field at Atterbury is usually cut in early June for hay. It wasn’t cut until August a couple of years ago and they stayed the entire summer.

The good news is according to The Birds of North America Online the average egg date is May 20 with 12 days of incubation. And if undisturbed the young leave the nest in 11 days. If that holds true then the young are gone around mid-June.

I’ll monitor both fields and hope the grass isn’t cut until late June.

Cuckoo Day Two – Black-billed

Let’s get right to it. Last Sunday during my Big Day I had some of my all-time best looks and photos of a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. Yesterday was no different with a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO with one seen and two others heard on the day. Even in the poor light the one I watched sat like cuckoos will. So I stood and watched back.

Black-billed Cuckoo
I’m at almost the same spot as last week when I saw the Yellow-billed Cuckoo except this Black-billed Cuckoo is on the other side of the road. It’s hard to see but the buff color under the chin is visible. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
BBCU (14)
I don’t think I disturbed it but it tried to get small and “hide” after a bit. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
BBCU (13)
I cranked up the ISO to get a better photo in the rainy conditions. Notice the lack of spots on the tail. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16

One of the Black-billed Cuckoo called a couple of times, once doing the low “cuckle” call as I call it. Cool times.

And for fun here is last week’s Yellow-billed on the left and this week’s Black-billed on the right.

YBCUBBCU A

The day started off well with Mike and I at Northwest Park in Greenwood. The first bird on the day was a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER that would never stop long enough for a photo.

BWWA (4)
This Black-and-White Warbler is demonstrating the nuthatch behavior for which they are known. Northwest Park 5/7/16
SWTH (1)
I have lightened this early morning photo to show the buff around the eye of this Swainson’s Thrush. Northwest Park 5/7/16

At Atterbury we picked up some FOS species.

BOBO (6)
A very distant Bobolink testing the limits of my new camera. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
BOBO (8)
Photobomb! What do you think, an Eastern Meadowlark? Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
HESP (6)
Another distant photo this time of a Henslow’s Sparrow. The wind was gusting at 25mph making photos tough. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16

And in the afternoon after Mike had departed I saw a few more FOY including the before mentioned Black-billed Cuckoo.

SCTA (1)
I can’t get enough of the bright red of a Scarlet Tanager. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
LEFL (1)
The ISO is up to capture this Least Flycatcher in the undergrowth. Atterbury FWA 5/7/16
LEFL (5)
How does it turn its head around 360deg? Atterbury FWA 5/7/16

You can tell it’s that time of year as I continue to see 10 or so FOY species each weekend.