Monday, February 23, 2009

Bad News! Good News!

Incoming Storm... Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

First, the bad news!  

Unfortunately, I will not be attending the ABA Convention in Corpus Christi, TX as I had originally planned at the end of April.  Another opportunity reared its ugly head and now I have to do something else.... I don't like it, but I am going to have to do it!  Instead of Corpus Christi I will be heading to....

Now the good news!

Ecuador!!!!  Wow!  I am an excited man.  Last year we went to Costa Rica and had a great time.  This year, my good friend John and I were talking about doing a birding trip so to do a trip together I had to decide between a trip to Corpus (alone, he wasn't interested at this time) or spend about the same money and go to Ecuador together!  Well... I decided for Ecuador.  Our area of birding will be NW of Quito.  The particular are that we are staying has recorded approx. 1,000 bird species!  I repeat - 1,000!  You can imagine my excitement! 

However, first things first, next week I am off to a meeting in Orlando, FL.  After our meeting ends on Thursday, I will be out Friday and Saturday birding Merritt Island NWR.  My target is the Florida Scrub Jay among others.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Birds Brighten a Sad Weekend.

Wild Turkey... Salamonie Reservoir, IN.  My two sons and I went on a brief birding trip since we were back home for a few days to the Salamonie Reservoir.  This was the ONE bird they wanted to see and that we did.  While visiting and old friend (Marvin) at the nature center we were privileged to see 5 male Turkey's!

Unfortunately, this was one of those weekends that we all have to deal with periodically - a death in the family.  My Uncle Donnie passed away last week and his memorial service was yesterday.  Sadly, adulthood prevented me from spending much time with my uncle these past few years but it was hard to hear that he had passed nonetheless.  Death, if anything, allows family and friends to reconnect - for this part, I was grateful.  

When all else fails, Birding helps!  Whether I am stressed or depressed, taking the time to go birding is almost always a cure.  Today was no exception.  Although we didn't see many species of birds, we did see some and some is always great!

Tufted Titmouse... Salamonie Reservoir, IN.  No matter how many times I see this bird I can never get enough.  When I first started watching birds this was one that I wanted to see the most!  Since I lived in the city, it took a while but I remember the first time I did!  I was the happiest fella on the planet!

My two sons... Salamonie Reservoir, IN.  It typically doesn't take long when birding with my kids that they will become involved with something else.  In this case, they were identifying all of the dead fish they could find.  Victims of winter.

Pine Siskin... Salamonie Reservoir, IN.  Another bird that I can't get enough of since I never see them in my backyard.  Very cute bird.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hermit Thrush Brings Life Total to 260!

Last weekend this time there was still several inches of snow on the ground from a recent snowstorm that dropped approx. 14" on the SW side of Indianapolis.  Today (2/9/09), it was 45 degrees, sunny, and a bulk of the snow has melted away.  Despite alot of mud, you couldn't ask for a prettier February day.  As with most Sunday's I birded Eagle Creek Park and as it typically does, it produced some great birds!  The highlight - Hermit Thrush, Life Bird #260!  I was also treated to another show by a group of visiting White-winged Crossbills.  Additional highlight today were... Mute Swan, Black Duck, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, and Pine Siskin.

Hermit Thrush... Indianapolis, IN.  When I noticed this bird rustling in a shrub at the beginning of the trail, I knew instantly it was a Thrush.  I also knew that it could be a lifer for me so I became extremely nervous thinking that it was going to fly away or get lost in the tangles.  It must have known how badly I wanted to see it because it jumped out of the bush and onto a small branch as if to allow me to take a few pictures.  I took 5 or 6 shots and it hopped back in the bush.  I didn't see it again.  This made become Life Bird #260!  It also made my 60th species in Indiana this year.

Hermit Thrush... Indianapolis, IN.

White-winged Crossbill... Indianapolis, IN.  Who could ever get tired of watching these birds pluck pine cones from the trees.  Today there was a group of 6-12 feeding. 

White-winged Crossbill... Indianapolis, IN.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just a Great Weekend!

This past weekend turned out to be a great for more than one reason.  First, I was able to join a group of birders to see the most Bald Eagles I had ever seen at one time in Montezuma, IN!  Then, on Sunday, I was able to go birding with my best friend and my 7 year old son which unfortunately doesn't happen as much as I would like.  Many birds made the weekend great but the Bald Eagles and a very nice pose from a Red-shouldered Hawk were definitely the highlights!

Red-shouldered Hawk...Indianapolis, IN.  Thanks to my (up and coming birder) 7 year old son, I was able to get a pretty good picture of this gorgeous hawk.  As I was scanning the lake for waterfowl, my son spotted this bird that was only about 40 ft away just above eye level watching our every move.  

Bald Eagle (Immature)... Montezuma, IN.  I joined the Indiana Audubon Society this past weekend for an "Eagle Watch" in Montezuma, IN near Turkey Run State Park.  Bald Eagles are common in this area and at times can be counted in great numbers as they leave their morning roosts.  I saw approx. 20 Bald Eagles and I believe the total count for the morning was 48!  Most were immature but all were breathtaking!

Bald Eagle (Adult)... Montezuma, IN.  This was one of about 5 adults I seen throughout the morning.  

Carolina Chickadee... Indianapolis, IN.  This bird is often confused with its northern relative the Black-capped Chickadee.  Only recently have I been able to distinguish the difference.  At a distance and in flight I believe the easiest way to tell them apart is by their song.  However, the Carolina Chickadee has a more defined gray break in color under the their black cap from the white that starts at the front of their face.  This picture shows a very defined line between white and gray around the cheek.  A Black-capped would be almost entirely white around the face with little to no gray.

White tailed Deer...Indianapolis, IN.  This deer was sharing the same feeder as the Chickadee above using its tongue to lick out the sunflower seed.

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal