The plan was to wrap up the December Colorado trip with one more blog. But after reviewing the photos from the final days I came up with several more posts. A couple travelogue type posts and a couple about things that caught my interest. Day 3’s morning was an enjoyable one in the field with a long walk at a state park. Strictly a travelogue day which means not any one highlight but many good views and observations. I’ll go with a Northern Flicker drumming to show my improving video talent. Ha!
There were numerous Dark-eyed Juncos but they too are getting a separate blog.
Now the following isn’t a good video. I was playing around with the video and thought I had a focused video of a Northern Flicker drumming. Turns out there was a small branch in the way. But I had fun in the field watching and recording.
Turn up the volume to catch the Northern Flicker Drumming.
I wrapped up the morning’s walk with a good mix of species – waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds. I encountered three separate Bewick’s Wrens but like any wren they didn’t come out long enough for a photo.
Saturday morning I broke out the winter boots along with other assorted winter apparel and headed out. The cool temperatures didn’t keep me from making the big loop at the local park. During the walk I saw all the expected woodpecker species excluding Yellow-bellied Sapsucker but including the ever difficult Hairy Woodpecker finally.
Let’s set the stage for the Hairy Woodpecker. After walking for almost 3 hours I had seen numerous Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers, a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, and 16 Downy Woodpeckers.
Finally towards the end of the walk and after seeing 16 Downy Woodpeckers I see the Hairy Woodpecker.
This figures to a ratio of 16 Downy to every 1 Hairy on the day.
I added up my sightings since we moved to Indiana and believe it or not I have a ratio of 16.2 Downy Woodpeckers seen for every 1 Hairy Woodpecker.
Thinking this was too much of a coincidence I checked eBird and found the ratio for all of Indiana is 5:1. I also checked other on-line resources and they too state the ratio was about 5:1.
Which leads me to the following questions:
Am I missing a lot of Hairy Woodpeckers? I know the Hairy’s rattle so I don’t think I’m missing them calling.
Does Central Indiana have more Downy’s? Are the local woods the wrong habitat for Hairy’s? I checked eBird for the local counties and it’s 6:1.
I’m still not sure many birders are confusing Downy Woodpeckers with Hairy Woodpeckers? I really do believe this. I have been on numerous outings when Downy’s have been misidentified.
So maybe Downy’s call more? That would explain my higher Downy count.
I’ll have to be more observant in the field for Harry’s. If I would have seen 2 more Hairy’s Saturday the ratio would have dropped to 5.3:1. And in-line with most ratios.
I told myself sometime ago I was going to post weekend highlights to make life a little easier. Having a regimented blog post concerning the weekend and one more later in the week about whatever I want fits my schedule. But I hadn’t thought of what would happen if the weather was so dark (fog and haze) that there wouldn’t be a highlight?
At least not in photos. Because every time I go birding it is an adventure and there are always highlights. The problem is I don’t get photos of everything to share.
So like the man once said, go with what you have got.
Mike and I birded Combs Wet Area and Southeastway Park in the fog and haze Saturday morning. When we arrived at dawn, Combs was packed with geese and ducks but like I previously reported was void of geese within a half hour. The odd thing is that I haven’t seen any Blue-winged Teal there yet this fall. I have seen them there each of the last couple of September’s. The only shorebirds were a couple of Pectoral Sandpipers and a few Least Sandpipers. Of course there were a lot of Killdeer.
Southeastway was slow in the fog. We might have been better off to come back later in morning. We did hear a Broad-winged Hawk calling in the trees but after a half hour search never located it.
Sunday morning was spent at Franklin Township Community Park. Not much in the way of warbler migrants but I watched a steady flow of Blue Jays fly from the north tree line and keep moving south. I figure they were migrating since I probably under counted at 50, which is many more than the normal 10 in the park.
Let’s get right to it. I gave myself the low grade of D for birding this past weekend. I would have received a F except for taking good notes.
Saturday’s goal was to observe species that will be leaving soon. Birds like ORCHARD ORIOLE, YELLOW WARBLER, HENSLOW’S SPARROW, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. I knew it wouldn’t be easy since they wouldn’t be singing. The plan was to walk Driftwood and Johnson County Park looking for these species.
The walk through Driftwood produced a Yellow Warbler but no Orchard Oriole. Odds are slim I’ll see one the rest of the year…
As I walked the fence row following the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD a yellow bird popped out of the vegetation and onto the fence farther up the road.
The bird was Green above and Yellowish below. Maybe one of the Willow Flycatchers I had just seen?
The bird flew a little farther up the fence and landed. A better look showed it had Olive Green above and Brighter Yellowish below. No wing bars or other marks could be determined. From the habitat a female/young Common Yellowthroat was now the thought.
It flew a little farther up, landed again on the fence, and flashed bright white outer tail feathers, like a Dark-eyed Junco. This was definitely not a Common Yellowthroat BUT WHAT WAS IT? Of course it flew away without a further look or photo.
I should have known, but I had no clue. I wrote down everything I could remember and proceeded to continue birding. Back at the car an hour and half later I looked through Sibley’s Eastern Birds. First I looked at the vireos and next warblers.
Then I read the following:
HOODED WARBLERS – “with tail often raised and fanned” and “mostly white tail distinctive”.
So was it a young Hooded Warbler? By process of elimination it probably was but I’m not sure enough to call it one and log into eBird. In my defense – what was it doing at Johnson County Park on a fence instead of the deep woods? Was it migrating and the heavy rains knock it down like the shorebirds? Probably.
The point is I should have known Hooded Warblers flash their white outer tail feathers. And I didn’t.
First the rest of the Solid Saturday that I posted about earlier in March. The day never cleared up until after I got home. So it was another day of taking photos with a cloudy background. Maybe next time it will be clear.
After leaving Franklin HS I headed to Atterbury. First I stopped by the GREAT BLUE HERON Rookery just west of the High School on Young’s Creek. I bring it up because soon I’m going to blog on the Johnson County’s Rookeries I know.
I then spent the rest of the day in the greater Atterbury FWA area. The bulk of the afternoon was spent walking the north end of Atterbury. Where I saw the SWAMP SPARROW.
First though was a stop at Driftwood were there wasn’t much happening except TREE SWALLOWS feeding.
Then on to the hike at Atterbury. The area always holds large numbers of EASTERN TOWHEES with over 20 seen or heard on the day.
I ended the day by watching a lone PIED-BILLED GREBE on the pond that my hike had circled.
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.