The local flooded field had a small spot on the far side suitable for shorebirds. With the cold front passing on Friday I visited it late Thursday. The glare from the west was heavy but luckily periodic clouds helped with the seeing. With the help of the cloud cover I was able to ID the expected Least, Pectoral, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers.
The local park was the starting point Saturday searching for owls. Success was had with both Eastern Screech and Barred Owls. The Barred Owl was seen as it flew away from the area of the screech owls. It must have come in to check out the tape.
The flooded field was the next stop. As I have discovered if I don’t arrive at least 15-20 minutes before sunrise the Great Egrets will be gone. Arriving 15 minutes before sunrise the lone Great Egret there flew away a minute later. Mike then arrived but our scan only produced a few shorebirds.
We decided on Southwestway Park for the local and hopefully a long shot species. And we ended up with a couple of birds I didn’t expect to see in August – Blue Grosbeak and Yellow-breasted Chat.
Otherwise it was a battle to avoid mosquitoes while seeing the expected species.
The south end of Eagle Creek Reservoir for a short lake watch was the day’s last stop. An Osprey on the water’s far side was one of the few birds seen.
Sunday I visited the SE corner of the county for a few rural birds. The resident American Kestrel was present at its usual spot as were Eastern Meadowlarks.
The fun though was watching a Cooper’s Hawk turn the tables on American Crows.
I figure there are an additional 10-15 species that should easily be seen until migration starts later this month. It’s the harder ones which will now be the challenge.
So how windy was last Saturday? Check out this photo of a windblown Eastern Phoebe!
Along with Mike Saturday’s plan was to search for the expected early migrants. But before I met up with Mike I did a bit of owling.
The Eastern-screech Owls weren’t the usual spots but a Barred Owl was calling nearby at one. I finally found one screech-owl.
I met up with Mike at the Great Horned Owl spot where we eventually heard one calling right before sunrise. We visited a couple of lakes and saw a good variety of waterfowl and the first of the migrants, three distant Tree Swallow flying over the Pisgah Lake.
The next stop was the known Eastern Phoebe Bridge and one was heard “chipping” immediately exiting the car.
Now watch the tail. Wait for it. Classic Phoebe!
At Driftwood SFA we found both migrants. The before mentioned windblown Eastern Phoebe and a small group of Tree Swallows.
This is my fifth spring in Indiana, so I can start to have realistic personal early/late dates.
Earliest Eastern Phoebe by 6 days. But not sure I was always looking for an early one.
Tree Swallow was the second earliest. Earliest was 3/2/13.
This post is basically a repeat of the same one I do about this time of year. This will be the fourth time I have posted about the 34th Annual JC CBC since we moved here in 2013.
The 34th annual Johnson County Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 18, 2016. The center of the 7.5 mile radius circle is centered south of Indiana 252 and county road 200E. The circle includes portions of a Johnson, Bartholomew, and Brown counties. It appears at one time the count was called the Atterbury count and changed its name to Johnson County. Maybe a change in the circle’s center?
If you are interested in joining the compiler is Mike Clay and he can be reached at:
mpclay at comcast.net.
If you live in the count circle all feeder reports are welcome.
Mike assigns teams that bird in the morning and then we meet at noon to recap the morning’s count. After lunch some people continue searching for species missed in the morning.
Now for data. The JC CBC count has averaged in the high 60’s for the number of species per count in the 29 years of data I could find on the National Audubon Society site. But the last few years it has averaged around 60 with only a few species of waterfowl seen. My guess is it hasn’t frozen up north and waterfowl hasn’t headed south. If the weather doesn’t change I’m guessing we’ll be around the same total again this year.
The last birds viewed on the weekend were also the highlight.
A group of 12 migrating Turkey Vultures.
Now most people might say a group of migrating Turkey Vultures aren’t exciting. But like a lot of things in birding migrating Turkey Vultures aren’t something you see away from a specialty site. Like a Hawk Watch. Or more importantly it’s not something I get to see every weekend.
And if caught low enough on the horizon it is a thrill to watch them come and go.
As I was heading back to the car I caught the glimmer of a white airplane to the north. Seemed odd since all the other planes Sunday morning had been high in that direction. Taken a glance towards the plane revealed a group of Turkey Vultures swirling on the horizon. They were too far for a photo so I watched them as they swirled/drifted up.
After reaching a certain height they all started drifting down and to the south at a rapid rate.
After gliding/drifting down for 4-5 miles (?) they started to swirl up again, this time much closer.
It didn’t take long before they were all behind the tree line and moving away.
What did I learn from that experience?
If I had left a minute earlier I would have missed the show. Looking at the times of the photos the whole event lasted 4 minutes. How far did they come in those 4 minutes? From the horizon to straight overhead. 4-5 miles?
If Broad-winged Hawks kettles travel in the same manner it shows you have to be at the right place at the right time or the odds are high you will miss them.
With the weekend being sandwiched between weeks of traveling for work, last Saturday I looked forward to an easy morning of walking and enjoying the outdoors. Since sparrows should be moving through and since hunting isn’t allowed there, I headed to my favorite sparrow spot – Johnson County Park.
Basically I took my time and enjoyed the birds, the changing trees, and the easy walk. I didn’t see any uncommon sparrows but I did see most of the expected fall sparrows. The closest I had to an uncommon sparrow was a Chipping Sparrow that wanted to be a Clay-colored Sparrow for several minutes. It was always back-lit so I never could get a photo.
I ended up seeing Eastern Towhee, Chipping, Field, White-crowned, White-throated, Song, and Swamp Sparrows on the day.
An easy blog post for an easy day of birding.
And now a few photos from earlier in the month from the area by my place.
My plan for the last Saturday in July, which was the last Saturday for the Indiana Audubon Summer Bird Count, was like the first weekend in June – visit as many habitats as possible. The difference as opposed to the first weekend in June was that the few birds that would be calling would probably be done by 10AM. And they were. So I was hoping for shorebirds to observe after 10.
I was out by 5AM in search of Eastern Screech-Owls but only found a pickup with a boat in the parking lot about 50 yards from my best spot at Atterbury FWA. With its motor running and lights on. Why would someone be in a parking lot an hour and half before sunrise with a big boat by a pond that I wouldn’t even bother to canoe? Who knows.
Anyway after missing the screech-owl I headed to the Great Horned Owl location and they began calling on cue about a half hour before sunrise. But I missed Barred Owl again. I have only heard one this year as opposed to six by this time the last two years. Maybe I just need to get out more?
The next hour and half around Atterbury/Johnson County Park was productive. I observed not one but four Belted Kingfishers, a bird I had missed on the count so far. It was also cool to watch Tree Swallows chase them around, a behavior I had never witnessed.
As others have noted swallows were gathering with a large group of Purple Martins at one of the small lakes at Atterbury. I was also glad to see a Spotted Sandpiper fly over since I had missed them because of the high water in the county. And today the water was even higher. Driftwood SFA was the highest I have ever seen it, with no boats on the water when I checked. The Big Blue River was also very high. And all the usual shorebirds spots were either flooded or so full of weeds that no shorebirds would land there.
Atterbury also showed the effects of the recent storms with trees down in many places. You could see were the DNR had cut many trees that had falling across the road. After Atterbury I headed to Laura Hare Preserve and the situation was even worse. If I hadn’t been to the preserve previously I’m not sure I could have picked up the trail in several spots. Trees were down everywhere and the trail was washed out in a couple of spots. And the birding was slow as it approached the 10AM hour.
I stopped by the south side of Atterbury and Johnson County Park on my way back from Laura Hare. While there I had all three raptors on the day – Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, and Turkey Vulture – while sitting on a picnic table getting a drink and watching meadowlarks. The JCP Bell’s Vireo was still calling and a Yellow-breasted Chat came out to see who was around.
So I ended the summer count with 88 species, the first time I hadn’t broke 100 in the three years I have participated. But I didn’t get to Laura Hare in early June and that is needed for 5 or so breeding warblers. Plus no shorebirds this year. Which usually is another 5 or so. And I missed a week going to Colorado and another week to cataract surgery. Cataract Surgery is something I should blog about but I’m waiting to see how it improves my birding. So far it has been great.
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.