Annual Goose Pond Fourth Of July Trip

Another Saturday and I’m up at 4AM so Mike and I can make our 4th Annual Goose Pond Fourth of July Trip looking for species not usually seen in the Johnson County area – MARSH WREN, LEAST BITTERN, LEAST TERNS, COMMON GALLINULE,  and BLACK-NECKED STILTS.

The weather cooperated but the habitat, not so much. Unlike past years the water level was low providing limited habitat for Least Bitterns and Common Gallinules. And where there is water, vegetation has grown to the water’s edge giving limited shorebird access. Compare this year’s photos to last years, when the water level was higher.

The water levels are low as seen on GP5N.
GREG (2)
There is still enough water in MPE2 for the Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons to thrive. We counted 75 Great Egrets in this group alone.

And enough habitat around to make the day enjoyable.

LETE (3)
The Least Terns were feeding around Tern Island.
NOBO (7)
A Northern Bobwhite ran across the road. I initially thought it was one of the several small rabbits that kept zigzagging on the road.
MINK (14)
We also saw a coyote and a mink family, this being one of the three.
BNST (18)
And of course the Black-necked Stilts kept a close eye on our every move.

BNST (36) BNST (37)

The highlight of the day was finding other shorebirds besides the Black-necked Stilts and Killdeer.

On the first stop of the day at MPE2 I saw three large shorebirds in this small pool with the Great Egrets. Through the scope we could make out they were Greater Yellowlegs.
GRYE (2)
We moved on to other areas but in late morning I bushwhacked out to the pool for a closer look.
GRYE (4)
Showing the range of the Nikon Coolpix P900 I’m still a distance away from the Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.
SBDO (1)
Then out of nowhere 4 Short-billed Dowitchers appeared. Beautiful in their breeding plumage.
SBDO (2)
Not sure if they were in the high grass??
GRYE (6) Annual Goose Pond Trip
A group photo but like school children they wouldn’t all stand next together for the photo – Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Black-necked Stilt.

All in all, our Annual Goose Pond Trip was good though it was quieter than years past. We missed on Least Bittern and Common Gallinule, plus no Bell’s Vireo or Sedge Wrens. Hopefully the heavy rain predicted for today will help bring some of the habitat back to life.

Goose Pond – 7/5/14 – Greater Yellowlegs for Starters

With an extra day off due to the holiday, I made a run down to Goose Pond.  And as we just got a new car for my daughter which gets great mileage, I didn’t feel as guilty on the gas money. One Hundred Ninety-eight miles total on 4.5 gallons of gas ($15.80) – 44 miles to the gallon.  And as usual I brought a PBJ for lunch, so no cash outlay there.  But I did stop at Starbucks in Martinsville…

After going out early yesterday to Atterbury FWA and not having great visibility until the fog lifted, I waited today to leave so I would arrive around 8AM after the fog would hopefully have lifted.  Which it had.  But the drive was mostly in fog.

Mute Swan yesterday at Atterbury FWA in fog

MUSW Atterbury 070414

While at Goose Pond I birded from the Double Ditches for a couple of hours, the bridge at 1200W for a couple of hours, and checked out the other units but didn’t spend much time at those locations.

On the way to the bridge at 1200W I got my best view and photos ever of a very cooperative Northern Bobwhite.  He was first in the road and then flew onto a little snag. What more to say?




The terns were present and flying around the island.

Goose Pond looking north towards the island from the bridge at 1200W .

View GPFWA 070514

From 400 meters it was obvious they were Least Terns.  Since the distance was to great for photos and the island is restricted I made sketches from the scope view.  I know there have only been 2 terns reported plus the  young ones but I swear there were four.  Two groups of two flying at different ends of the island. I’ll wait and hear back from others to see if I was seeing things.

Least Tern sketch – just to show how I document birds in conjunction with a voice recorder.  I’m not a great artist, but I can usually get the essence down.


While watching from the bridge Black-necked Stilts kept constantly flying by with there legs extended back, even when I was under the tree over the bridge.

BNST Flyover GPFWA 070514

Then one went by with legs extended, but it was brown. Which through me off.  A Greater Yellowlegs, early, but not exceptionally.


As stated, I didn’t see much in the NW units but there were Cliff Swallows coming out from under a bridge.  This gives me hope that Johnson County might have nesting Cliff Swallows since I always thought Cliff Swallows needed a large, high bridge. It appears I was incorrect and can now start checking more bridges.

Cliff Swallow Bridge

CLSW Bridge GPFWA 070514

At noon I decided to go back and walk out the double ditches.  Glad I did.  While out there I heard Common Gallinules calling on both sides.  Then I thought I was hearing things when I heard a Sandhill Crane call for about 10 minutes.  I never could locate it but when I got home I saw on eBird that Don Gorney had one listed on July 1. And when I got back to the car a couple of guys were trying to fish on the west side of the road.  They made so much noise that they flushed a Least Bittern.  It flew about 20 meters in front of me and landed about 50 meters out.  I got great views but it dropped before I got a picture.  Nice way to end the day.