4/29/2020 - 5/3/2020
I had big plans for this weekend. As usual, the results did not meet the aspirations. The weekend started early with a vacation day on Friday. I also did a bit of backyard shooting during lunch, on Thursday. The weather was all over the place. So was my shooting/luck.
Thursday was cold and cloudy. But, I had some new visitors to the yard and wanted some shots. Cloudy days, as long as you have enough light, are great for shooting all day long. No shadows to worry about, and the color are very vibrant.
Highlights were the Gray Catbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore Oriole. The orioles and grosbeaks show for a few days every year and they disappear. This is the first year I got a shot of the oriole. They come to visit the buckeye tree when it blooms. I put out oranges, and they could care less.
Friday, I was up early-ish and headed to Coxhall Gardens. I had never been there, and the place was a bit further than I planned; so, I was a bit late getting there. There is a large flooded area there that has been excellent for shorebirds. It is an amazing opportunity, and I wish I had time to visit before now. By the time I arrived, there were only two species of shorebird present (Solitary Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs); unless you count baby Mallards as a shorebird. I was happy to have the chance to photograph them.
Afterwards, I made a quick stop at Central Park (the one in Carmel), to look for migrants and visit a screech-owl roost. I quietly approached the owl and took a few photos before quickly moving on. As for migrants... well, it was way too nice for migrants to be hopping about and wanting their picture taken. I found one Yellow-rumped Warbler and that was it.
After that, I headed home to check on my grosbeaks. My pair was down to one. But, he did not mind posing for some shots. He was sitting in the sun this time.
Saturday. Big plans on Saturday. I was off for a second shot at birding in Shawnee State Park, OH. I met some friends there shortly before sunrise and was off to look for warblers. We heard and saw a lot of birds. But the day was really nice and hot. Everything was high up. I left with, basically, one decent photo. Not what I had imagined for the day. Still, it was great to see a lot of migrant and breeding warblers.
A bit exhausted from the trip on Saturday, I planned to sleep in a little on Sunday. The forecast was for a day of rain; so, I did not think I would be missing much. Well... let's just say the weatherman was a little wrong. The revised forecast that morning switched from "rain" to "cloudy". They did not even get that part right. I eventually realized the day was going to be a complete waste if I did not get out soon. I opted for something I had been talking about for a bit. I loaded the bike in my car and drove to Eagle Creek Park. It has been closed to car traffic for a couple weeks, now. You can still walk or bike in, though. I chose the latter and found myself wheeling into the marina by 10:30. Yeah, that's a bit late to start birding.
Today was a test of the memory. There was a bird calling when I arrived in the marina. I knew the call but could not recall the species. I just knew it was important. There was another birder there, and I described what I was hearing (he could not hear the bird). Golden-winged Warbler. We tried to track it down but failed. Later in the morning, we would locate it and also get another couple of birders, Cindy and Pete from Martinsville, on the bird, too. Before that, we had been walking one of the trails, at the marina, when I heard another song I knew but could not place. We had better luck with this bird. Black-throated Blue Warbler. Such a great bird. In one final instance of, better start remembering, I had been hearing a call that was, again, familiar but not instantly recognizable. After some pishing, I look down and see a Wilson's Warbler poke its head out of a bush in front of me and then, just as quickly, disappear. It was a good and exhausting day at the park. I mostly had Yellow-rumps and Palms, but the quality of the other birds was hard to argue against.
Tired and sweaty, I finally headed home and checked on my grosbeaks. The number yesterday had grown to three; all young male birds. Today, I was up to 4, which includes a single female. It's a hard thing to complain about. I also had a quick visit from our other oriole, an Orchard Oriole. Another visitor that only lasts until the buckeye blooms fade.
Thanks for reading,