We left Indianapolis at approx. 4:50a and headed to
Linton, IN. When we first arrived, we met
up with a small group of Birders to watch for waterfowl flying out of their night resting areas. Aside from several Great Blue Herons, the morning started off very slow. As the earth lighted, the first birds of interest were seen. Two Whooping Cranes! Whooping Cranes! A lifer!
Afterward, we began our assignment at
Goose Pond by surveying a large
section of land, which I believe was Unit 11. I wasn't aware of how out of shape I was until about an hour into the project where I felt as though I needed instant hip replacement! The terrain was frozen and rough! There was
little bird activity, however, to my excitement, I was able to pick up several lifers. Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Harrier, and Rough Legged Hawk.
We then took a short break to recap at lunch and then took off to do some birding at Sullivan-Greene State Forest and Hawthorne Mine. Both
properties produced multiple birds. The highlights for the State Forest were a Brown Creeper, Purple Finches, Pileated Woodpecker, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Hawthorne Mine was another story altogether!
The visit to Hawthorne Mine will no doubt go down in history for me as one of my best birding moments. We went to look primarily for - Northern Shrike, Short-eared Owl, and waterfowl. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate a Northern Shrike. However, we did not only find a Short-eared Owl but were treated to Short-eared Owls in every direction we looked. Over the entire property, no matter where you looked, you could see a Short-eared Owl at close range - whether perched or hunting - they were everywhere! Absolutely everywhere! After calming down somewhat from the excitement of the Owls, we refocused our search to waterfowl and were again treated to some rarities and unexpected numbers of some very nice ducks. I picked up the following birds as lifers at Hawthorne Mine - Short-eared Owl, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, and Canvasback. Additional highlights included a ton of Northern Harriers, American Kestral, Green-winged Teal, and Red-tailed Hawk. In all, I was able to obtain 10 life birds for the day - not to bad at all!
To read more about the importance of the Christmas Bird Count go to: http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/
My new life list total is - 250!