Don’t be fooled by the title. I have many Wilson’s Snipe photos. Just not Wilson’s Snipe photos from the local only marshy area. Snipe have been present for the last couple of years at the marsh. But never out in the open long enough for a photo. Until Sunday.
Saturday started out with Mike and me heading to Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow. With Mike’s help I spent much of the time learning to ID several trees from their bark. The birding was typical for the habitat and time of year, meaning it was quiet at times. We did hear two Louisiana Waterthrush and I saw my yearly Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Sunday morning I went to the marsh area with express purpose of checking on the Wilson’s Snipe and any other shorebirds/waterfowl present.
Within the first minute of walking upon the marsh a Wilson’s Snipe flew in and landed in an opening. If I would have been prepared I would have had a photo right off the bat. But it proceeded to walk into the thick grass and when I moved it flushed to the far side. So I began the process of checking all the open areas for snipe.
The cat and mouse game would proceed over the next couple hours with snipe flying in and out but never where I could photograph one.
Finally Wilson’s Snipe Photos
I kept watch on the far shore hoping a snipe would walk out in to the open. After a couple of hours one finally appeared.
I’ll follow-up this post up using Wilson’s Snipe as an example of something I think is a bigger problem.
After my last post on birders trying to turn Common Goldeneye to Barrow’s Goldeneye, you thought I would have learned. Nope. My first day in the Grand Junction area was spent wasting too much time trying to turn a Western Grebe into a Clark’s Grebe.
The day started out exactly like I hoped. Clear and cold (17F). I was at Highline Lake State Park in under a half hour. It was as quiet as birding in winter in Midwest. The difference though was no backdrop noise of cars or machinery like you hear in the Midwest.
I was one of the few people at the park besides the rangers. And the birding was slow but I didn’t mind as I walked the trails for a few hours.
Maybe an Orange-crowned Warbler? was the weekend highlight. Maybe not. I’m not 100% sure. More on that towards the end of the post.
I haven’t had much time to either bird or post the last couple of weeks. A week-long trip to Canada for work (no birding involved), catching up from the trip, and then the Thanksgiving Holiday. I could have been out more over Thanksgiving weekend but I spent the time finalizing and preparing for my next birding trip. So I don’t feel like it was wasted time.
I finally had some time over the weekend and knowing there would be sparrows I birded Johnson County Park. I made a stop at Honker Haven at Atterbury FWA and confirmed there still hasn’t been a major movement of waterfowl into the area.
Johnson County Park had the previously mentioned sparrows with all of the anticipated ones there in good numbers.
On the way home I made a stop at the Wilson Snipe location. Taking a casual walk through the marsh flushed 8 snipe. Unless we have a major weather change they should be good for the upcoming Johnson County Christmas Count.
An Orange-crowned Warbler?
I spent a couple of hours Sunday at the local retention ponds watching, sketching, and documenting the movements of the local Red-tailed Hawks. I want to make sure I know them inside and out before an upcoming trip.
While watching one of the Red-tailed Hawks through the spotting scope I heard a loud CHIP in the Mocker Tree. (This is a small tree that has a Northern Mockingbird in it 90% of the time) The chip was loud and persistent. My first thought was a sparrow but I had never heard a sparrow chip this loud. There were nearby Song Sparrows chipping but they were much lower sounding. The chipping bird stayed in the bush and I wrote down it sounded like a repeated CHIK CHIK. I then thought it might be a really agitated Yellow-rumped Warbler, though it didn’t sound right.
The bird flew out of the bush onto the top limb. In the short naked eye glimpse from about 20 feet the bird was small and appeared all yellow. An even quicker look through the binoculars showed it had a slight eye ring (lower and upper crescents?) and was yellow.
And then it flew. My first and last impression was Orange-crowned Warbler. But I’m not confident enough with the short look to confirm. I haven’t heard one chipping in a few years but it sounded like one after listening to its chip on an app immediately after the sighting. Oh well.
Over the last month I have regularly checked a local “marshy” area to see how long WILSON’S SNIPE will hang around. Last winter I checked twice in December flushing 5 on the 20th. I didn’t get back until February 6 when I flushed 6. With the winter not being overly harsh I figure they were present all winter. They have been present this spring and Saturday taking a short stroll through the marsh flushed three. I stopped after 1 as not to disturb any others but flushed 2 more on taking a way out I didn’t think they would be located.
Looking at the eBird map for June shows very few records in Indiana except for the concentration around Goose Pond. And I’m sure there have been more at Goose Pond not recorded on eBird.
Checking Brock’s Birds of Indiana we see the average departure date for Central Indiana is May 6 and there are is an “n” in the 20-Year Abundance Table which indicates no records (over the past 20 years).
A line from The Birds of North America Online sums it up, “Marshy habitat, cryptic coloration, and crepuscular habits make for remarkably poor knowledge of this common species.”
Like the above sentence states, how does one check on the snipe without disturbing them? More importantly how do you check for young when you can’t even see the adults? Tread softly looking for a nest? Tough situation.
I’d sure like to know if they are breeding in the marsh but it might not be possible except by knowing there is snipe there the entire summer.
After returning from London I took my daughter to Lafayette Saturday morning and the nhad to pick her up in the afternoon. So I took the opportunity to bird a couple of spots in Benton County.
But first let me say it was COLD. According to National Weather Service the temperature at 10AM was 31F with winds out of the NW at 22mph with gusts of 28mph making the Wind Chill 18F. This wasn’t good since I had planned to search for shorebirds in the rain-soaked fields. But they were frozen.
The first stop was a quick one for WESTERN MEADOWLARKS. Immediately upon rolling down the car window I heard and then saw numerous VESPER SPARROWS on the road.
While watching the sparrows I heard a Western Meadowlark calling. Only a couple of meadowlarks flew in the cold, so I’m not sure if I saw an Eastern or Western. But I definitely heard a Western calling.
I then headed to Pine Creek Gamebird Habitat. I didn’t know what to expect with this being my first time there. And it didn’t take long to realize I would be facing the freezing wind to view the shorebirds. But that same cold weather helped by freezing the entire water area everywhere but the water closest to the road. Forcing the shorebirds closer.
There were numerous GREATER AND LESSER YELLOWLEGS, plus a few PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. And with the water frozen that was the extent of the birds.
I then walked the south trail into the sun to thaw my frozen face. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was flying about as where a flock of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS.
I then headed to the west trail along the shallow bluff which would keep the wind out of my face. I could then walk back with the wind. The walk was productive since it was now afternoon and the water was beginning to melt.
Over a one hundred BLUE-WINGED TEAL flew in along with NORTHERN SHOVELERS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a lone HOODED MERGANSER, and MALLARDS.
A RED-TAIL HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL, and TURKEY VULTURES flew by. It was a very enjoyable walk.
I then saw a group of shorebirds land in the grass a little further to the north. My first thought was WILSON’S SNIPE since they like moist, grassy areas but I couldn’t be sure. So I took my time heading that way to see if I could get a glimpse.
I noticed a hawk flying low behind the tree line heading straight for the presumed snipe. It came in unexpectedly and almost got them. They immediately flew giving me the chance to ID them.
I’m glad I waited around trying to ID the snipe since I got to see the harrier attack plus more waterfowl kept flying in.
My thoughts from my first visit to the area? Good area for shorebirds and waterfowl with easy viewing and trails for walking. Right up my alley.
If someone knew of a good passerine site in the county, you could probably build a very good county list just visiting those two areas.