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Catching Up

Updated: May 22

5/17/2020


It has been a couple weeks since I have had a chance to post. A lot has happened in that time. I took Monday and Tuesday off of work. That caused havoc with work, and I have been playing catch-up since. In the end, Monday and Tuesday were not the best days to have off. You just do not know these things ahead of time, though. About Wednesday, the cold weather finally broke and the migrants started moving in earnest. Everything that had been bottled up south of us started moving through. On Friday, reports were piling in from the lakefront. The birds had amassed and were moving out over the lake in record numbers. Reports on Saturday were still good, but not as impressive. The lack of any wind allowed of birds to keep moving. They were done with being bottled up.


Here in Indianapolis, things were not great the previous weekend and the couple days I took off. I was finding birds, but I was finding them in ones and twos. Photos were mainly of breeding birds. With the reports on Friday, I had high hopes for this Saturday. A pending weather system was supposed to bring rain for most of the weekend. So, I was anxious to get out early and bird. In spite of that, I still somehow managed to turn my alarm off and got started an hour later than I wanted. Reports from around the area were pretty good. I did not do as great. Sometimes, I am just in the wrong place at the right time. So, if you are here to look at spectacular shots of flashy migrants, you are going to be a bit disappointed. Trust me, you are not the only one. Here is a bit of what I was able to capture, in somewhat chronological order.


I had a single Rose-breasted Grosbeak stick around for another day. I set my camera up and was able to snap a few shots over lunch.


I made a second trip out to Coxhall Gardens to photograph shorebirds. The only new species there that day was Least Sandpiper, and they mostly stayed out-of-reach.

After laying in the mud a bit, I made my second and probably final trip to see the Eastern Screech-Owl at Central Park. With the hole facing west, I wanted to visit in the evening to get a little better lighting.


Last Saturday, I headed south. A couple of my favorite spots to visit were occupied by turkey hunters, and I had to find other places to bird. I saw a lot and heard even more. Everywhere I went, I could hear Blackburnian singing. Most of it was way too high for photos. It was a good day to be out. I just wish I was able to get into some of the spots I am more familiar with.


On Monday, I was up early and biked my way into Eagle Creek Park. I had tons of Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. Very little that was cooperative, though. The highlights of the morning were the orioles feeding in the honeysuckle bushes and finding a Blue-winged Warbler (no signs of hybirdization) that was singing the Golden-winged Warbler song.


Tuesday had a grand surprise in store, for me. On Monday, a Least Bittern had been reported at a private residence. I was invited out, but I did not have a chance to go. Tuesday, the bird was still present, and I made sure to get over there for some photos. A tiny and reclusive species, Least Bittern is not often seen around the state. I donned a set of chest waders and waded out into the pond to get photos of the bird. After a bit of patience, the bird slowly crept down to the water's edge and started hunting the shoreline for minnows.



Most of this weekend and various days over the last two weeks, I have been birding Fort Ben. In retrospect, this weekend should have been spent elsewhere, but you cannot be everywhere at once. When I had time, I would head over in the evenings after birding elsewhere or finishing work. A couple days, I barely had enough light to shoot, but I did not want that to stop me from being out.

One of the highlights of this time was an evening spent on Fall Creek. A large number of some sort of small moth had hatched and would flutter out over the creek. The warblers had picked up on this and were waiting in the underbrush for them. You could see a small white insect drift out over the water and then watch as a Black-throated Blue, Yellow, Prothonotary, or Yellow-rumped Warbler would jump out from cover and snatch it. While watching this, a Blackburnian made a brief appearance in a nearby tree. While they were all a bit far to really photograph well, it did not stop me from trying.

The other highlight was the couple of days I ran across Brown Creepers gathering food. Brown Creeper nest in the park, and they were gathering mouthfuls of the most disgusting things. As always, they are great to see but so, so fast and hard to shoot. I was super lucky and had one somewhat stand still for a moment as it was busy disabling a spider the size of its head.


Today, the park offered Connecticut and Mourning Warblers. I was always about a minute behind where I should be. I was happy to finally see a Connecticut; instead of just hearing it sing. I was afraid I was going to miss out this year. I did, also, see this one masked critter. While it was in a tree, it was not what I normally photograph. I was happy to snap a couple shots of this cute guy. I am just glad he is not at my house raiding my feeders.


The female warblers are starting to show in numbers. With the large movement and time of year, this probably signaled "peak" for spring migration. The birds will be harder to find from here. I may just start looking for grassland species. The weather is supposed to turn quite warm and sunny this week. Get out and enjoy some of it!


Thanks for reading,

Mike



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