I am playing catch-up, yet again. I had so many photos to sort through and process from my Kansas trip to see Prairie Chickens. I was not letting that stop me from getting out to do some shooting, though. This just meant that I had even more photos to process after I finished the Kansas trip's photos. I am definitely not complaining.
I have been yo-yoing my way up and down the state the past couple of weekends. I had also worked ahead enough hours last week that I was going to run out of hours before Friday. Looking at the forecast, Thursday looked like the better day for weather, and I took Thursday morning off to go bird. Thankfully, I have an understanding boss. It seems that migration is a little late this year. I still have not seen many pass-through migrants; mostly, it is just the state breeders that have arrived. With that in mind, I have been heading down to Morgan-Monroe SF one day of the weekend and then hitting Eagle Creek Park the next day.
Morgan-Monroe is a sprawling area to bird, and it is turkey season. That makes birding a little tricky. Most of the pull-outs have a vehicle in them already. I drive with the windows down on my car and listen for birds. I am primarily listening for warblers: Northern Parula, Hooded, Kentucky, Worm-eating, Blue-winged, Ovenbird, Black-and-white, or Yellow-throated. I will stop and take a quick look for other birds, too. It just depends on how close they sound. My first weekend down was not that productive. I did not see or hear any Hooded or Kentucky. Black-and-white, a state breeder, was also absent. Things were much livelier last weekend. The full compliment of deep-woods warblers were singing. I even heard three different Kentucky Warblers in the areas I birded. Hooded were singing everywhere. I also had several Worm-eating in the area. In spite of the numbers of birds, I was only able to track down a few for photos. I am not going to complain, though. One of them was an eye-level, singing Hooded Warbler. The day was overcast, and I was still shooting at noon. This always messes with the tint in the photos a bit, but I think they work. I also had American Redstart, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Scarlet Tanager. Things are finally starting to move.
Eagle Creek has been consistent, if nothing else. Mostly, it is calling Yellow-throated, Northern Parula, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Palm have been plentiful, too. I did have a single Northern Waterthrush the last two weekends. I also had a brief glimpse of a Prothonotary Warbler, but it has moved on or been ran out. Blue-headed Vireo have been calling the past couple weekends, but I have not seen one low, yet. Last weekend also saw the return of Yellow Warbler. They seemed to be everywhere. Now is the time of year when American Bittern, Sora, and Virginia Rails are moving through. Ever since the park removed the cattails from the skating pond, it has been difficult to view rails. I, somehow, missed the American Bittern at the park; even though it had just been seen minutes before I arrived. Joys of the hobby, I guess. My big surprises were Orange-crowned and Worm-eating Warblers. The previous weekend, I was birding at the marina and was just beginning to think I had pished down a Northern Parula when it bounced back higher up into the trees. I looked down in the bushes in front of me expecting to find a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and an Orange-crowned popped out to see what all the racquet was about. It was not overly cooperative, but I will take it. Last weekend, I was walking back to the parking lot at the skating pond with another birder. We stopped to check out a few distant birds hopping around in a small mid-story tree behind a row of dense honeysuckle. There was a pair of chickadees in there, but the other bird was larger and greenish. I am trying to use my camera as a set of binocs, and that never works out great. Especially since I was trying to look through some other brush. I had just focused in and noticed a brownish head with three dark stripes when the bird hopped down out of view. I said, "Was that a Worm-eating?" Luckily, the other birder got an ID shot. Worm-eating Warbler. I tired to help some other birders relocate it, but it had disappeared. Not a bad find for that park.
Whew, this post is a bit of a rambling mess. There has just been a lot of activity on my end but not a lot of results - at least the results I was hoping for. It happens every year. April hits and migration is on my mind. I head out to bird and am disappointed I did not find more. It is a consistent theme, and one of the reasons I keep a blog. It lets me look back over the years to see what I was doing at certain times of the year. I have a page devoted to a tool that lets me compress my Indiana-specific posts into a "mythical year". You can see it here. The dates from the various years just overlay each other on a single-year timeline. So, I am saying this with a little bit of data to support it - the birds are late this year. Early April, I am consistently posting about false starts, being overly eager, and generally just jumping the gun. By late April, I am posting about the birds finally being here. May 1st is always the "true migration is starting" post. From there, it is a countdown through mid-May when migration peaks. Last weekend was May 1st in everything but name, and the true migrants really are not here in any numbers. I had a calling Nashville Warbler and saw a single Black-throated Green Warbler. This year, the birds seem about a week late. For once, it is them and not me. At least that is what I am telling myself.
North winds over the next week will not help things much. After that, it looks like the winds will 180 and come from the south. I am sure things will meander into the state in the meantime, but things are probably going to get really busy once the winds start blowing from the south. Let's hope we can all make it out to enjoy some of them as they pass through.
Thanks for reading,