This was not meant to be the end of my 2023. As far as endings go, it was not too bad, though. It seems the weather (mostly overly dark and gloomy skies) keeps trapping me in. I had a nice block of days around Christmas off and then a three day weekend, but the weather has not cooperated. I ended up with just a couple days of shooting.
I made a trip out to Eagle Creek Park after Christmas to look for the Red Crossbills. It has been years since I have seen any; especially in the state. While I saw some, I did not photograph any. They spent hours in the top of a tall pine tree. Eventually, they flew. When the birds were relocated, they were in top of another pine tree. I made a quick trip by the seed pile in the park and grabbed a few shots - just to make sure I still knew which end of the camera went forward.
Which brings me to yesterday. A bit oddly, I did not head out to bird until noon. Even then, I did not get to my target destination until around 2:00 PM. There is a park in Terre Haute that has been hosting a Vermilion Flycatcher for around a week, now. This bird would be a new state bird for me, and I figured it would be a good way to close out the year. I started the year in early January with a state bird (Mountain Bluebird). No reason to not end the year with one, since I had the chance. It took a few minutes to locate the bird. When I did, it was pretty far away on some mud flats. Heat distortion from the water kept me from shooting anything on the ground. I was able to walk around to another area and get slightly closer shots when it perched up on a small dead branch. At best, it is a decent documentation shot.
State bird number 335 in hand, I turned the car south and started driving to my next location.
I was heading to Bear Run to look for Short-eared Owl. This is why I started the day late. I did not need to be here until late afternoon. I have been heading up to Lafayette to shoot this species, but I think that Bear Run is the better location. It is just a lot further from home. I got there around 4:00 PM, but the owls were not up yet. I probably had time to drive the area looking for raptors or shrikes, but the roads were slick with mud from a couple days of rain. So, I just waited a bit, and the owls popped out around 4:30 PM. In spite of the great light and the early showing of the birds, pictures came a bit tough. They mostly stayed on the wrong side of the light. I was also shooting with an extender, and it seemed to slow the autofocus down a bit. I am sure I am doing something wrong. Regardless, I did get some decent shots. I am hoping to make one or two more trips to the area before winter is out.
And that is how I ended my 2023. I had intended to make a run for Winter Wren the following day, but the skies are particularly gloomy, today. That gives me time to clean up some hard drive space and look over my favorite photos of the year instead. I will post about them later today.
Thanks for reading,