6/5, 6/7, and 6/12/2020
Summertime means chasing down a lot of birds that breed in the state. The excitement of new birds passing through the state has diminished. Most breeding birds are busy raising families. Shooting in the open lasts until 10 o'clock or so, and then you need to find shady spots or call it a day. This means that getting some place early (and getting up even earlier) is a necessity - another reason I appreciate winter birding more.
I've fallen into a habit of chasing down the same birds summer after summer. The trip to Goose Pond in my previous post was the start of this checklist. I know there are plenty of birds to see, but I, like everyone else, have my favorites that I want to be sure to see. I'm going to work on changing that up this year. Travel is still not an option; so, what else am I going to do? For now, though, here is a bit of the "usual" checklist.
Grasshopper Sparrow (6/5)-
"Recession Acres" (you can actually google this location by that name) is where I go to look for this bird. The days here are numbered. Apartment complexes are popping up, and the fields have been mowed short. I was surprised to find my target. I normally make it here earlier in the year to look for Bobolink, but I missed them this year.
After locating the Grasshopper Sparrow, I made a trip to check on a Lark Sparrow that had been reported near Indy a couple weeks before. I knew my chances were low, but I did not really have an agenda for the rest of the morning. No luck there, but it put me near Coxhall Gardens. I swung in to check the shorebird pond. There were some Mallards and Killdeer at the water, but nothing else. I stumbled across a Killdeer nest that had been thoughtfully flagged (I mean, the Killdeer sitting on it was pretty helpful, too). Some Cedar Waxwing were feeding in the serviceberry bushes, and a family of Eastern Kingbirds were busy snatching insects nearby. The waxwings were very uncooperative for photos.
We interrupt the usual checklist to bring you striped cuteness! Also known as baby Pied-billed Grebes. Baby grebes were being seen and photographed at Eagle Creek Park, and I made the trip over in the evening to shoot them. When I arrived, there was quite a group there, already, and the reports were that I just missed them. Luckily, they made a few more appearances after I arrived. The high bank at the edge of the pond keeps me from getting as low as I would like, but that did not really matter, in the end. The young mostly stayed on the other side of the cattails, and I had to shoot over them anyway. Thanks to everyone for letting me join them in shooting these cute little guys.
Back to our regular schedule....
Dickcissel, Blue Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat, and Henslow's Sparrow (6/12) -
I love prairie areas. I cannot really explain why, but there is something about them that I enjoy. There is something about the colors. One of my favorite prairie plants in the state (not that I know many of them) is Spiderwort (technically Virginia Spiderwort). When I arrived at Prophetstown SP at 6:15, I was greeted with a field full of it. I was also greeted by storm clouds and some lightning. Not exactly the "sunny" conditions the forecast had called for. While I would not be enjoying a blazing golden hour on the prairie, I was able to shoot much later thanks to the overcast skies. I needed that time. While I heard a couple Henslow's Sparrows on the drive in and during a quick scan, I had a hard time finding them. A quick burst of rain pushed through shortly after I arrived, and it really quieted things down. By the end of the day, I had heard maybe four and seen two. It does not seem like a good year for this species. On the flip side, I had five Blue Grosbeaks; including one that sneaked up behind me while I was looking for a singing Dickcissel. I turned around and saw it working its way down the path. It flew around me and landed along the path, again; allowing me to walk past it and then shoot with the sun. Dickcissel and Yellowthroat were everywhere. I was surprised by a couple of Grasshopper Sparrows. Proving I did not have ultimate luck this day, I spotted an Orchard Oriole along a path, and it flew toward me, too; bombing down into some weeds before popping up into a small dead weed, where it hid in a tangle before flying off.... You cannot win them all. Curiously, I only had two Indigo Bunting in the area. I had hoped for more.
It looks like a large portion of the prairie has been planted in red clover. So, it appears they will be harvesting a lot of the prairie, again. I guess the parks need to make money, somehow, but I do not really care for this practice. It just further diminishes the native habitat that wildlife depends on. Speaking of, one last soapbox item. I spotted several large growths of Poison Hemlock in the prairie. It would be a shame to see it take over there like it has in many areas. Not sure what the consequences are if it gets into the hay. I know it is highly toxic for people.
And, just because it is two of my favorite things, a Henslow's Sparrow atop a Virginia Spiderwort plant.
I believe that Marsh and Sedge Wren are up next on my checklist. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,