Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend 2009

Despite some dispiriting setbacks, this Memorial Day could be summed up as satisfying. As always, a few days away from work can do anyone some good! The big event for me this weekend was our 2nd Annual "Team Walmart" Big Day to raise money for the Amos Butler Audubon Society here in the Indianapolis, IN area. The Birdathon is annual event held to raise funds in support of our native Indiana Birds and their habitat!

Team Walmart!... John, David, Mark, Chad, Ed, Trent, Jenny, and me.
This year we decided to take a road trip vs. staying local like last year. We spent most of the day near Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes State Park and then later wrapped up the day at Potato Creek State Park. The good news... we had a good time! The bad news, our species count was disappointingly low considering we spend alot more time birding than we did last year. We ended up with 48 species of birds between the two parks. This included only 2, I repeat 2 Warblers! What the heck? Even better news is that despite our low species count we have thus far raised about $2,500 for our local Audubon Society! We all worked very hard and I am very proud and grateful for my team of participants!
Purple Martins... Van Buren, IN. These are the most beautiful birds! I just learned that they are an adulteress group of birds as well... sneaky little birds!

Osprey... Potato Creek S.P.

Green Tree Frog

I was fortunately able to spend some time with my children this weekend fishing, birding, and playing some baseball. No matter where we are or what we are doing, my children always manage to find a toad or frog - Always! This weekend they caught two Tree Frogs, a Toad, and one Green Frog. I am very thankful my children are so curious with the world that surrounds them... just like their Dad!

American Robin... a bird we some times take for granted. Wouldn't we all be upset if they were gone? I love them, they have such a curious personality.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit. If I had to immediately pick a woodland flower that I would claim as my favorite, this would most likely be what I spout out first! Going back as far as I can remember this was always where my attention would drift if I were out in the woods. What a cool plant!

Ring-billed Gull... one of my favorite picture birds.... they are always around and love to pose.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Little of This and a Little of That!

It had been couple of weeks since I have been free to roam some of the nearby parks so I decided this weekend that I was going to get out! Come rain or shine! I hadn't had much time to focus on the 09'migration so Saturday I spent most of the day looking for Warblers. For the most part I got skunked... the morning started off great but seemed to end almost immediately - I ended up with only 6 species of Warblers for the day. Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Canada, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and American Redstart. However, aside from the few Warblers, it turned out to be a great day - many other beautiful birds graced me with their presence. I was able to spend the afternoon with my sons on a birding/ nature walk AND some time in the yard. I love spring!

Eastern Phoebe?... This was actually one of about a family of 3-4 young ens that I come across during the day. When it comes to Flycatcher I.D. I become a nervous wreck. I believe this to be a young Phoebe - not sure.

Tree Swallow... a favorite! They fly around all day and eat insects AND are beautiful!

Magnolia Warbler... not the best picture but hey, they are fast!

Venus Flytrap... in my front yard! I have a thing for Carnivorous Plants too! For the past 3 years I have successfully wintered over Venus Flytraps and several species of Pitcher Plants. This is what one of my flytraps is looking like so far for 2009.

Pitcher Plant flowers... S. Flava. Spring flowers. In the spring these plants use insects for pollination. Once the flowers are gone... the insects become meals. What a thank you! I love it!

Tiger Beetle... a clearly perturbed Tiger Beetle. My two sons and I followed this common trail insect for several minutes to get a picture. It finally stopped, looked up as if to say, "get it over with".

Palm Warbler... another fuzzy pic but, a pic nonetheless.

Happy Toads... it is not uncommon for my boys to catch anything they can get their hands on. My youngest son caught both of these toads and carried them almost the entire hike. He was so happy! I am not so sure they were as equally excited! He caught a Leapard Frog later!

Not a care in the world... I had my camera lense about an inch from this flower and the insect inside did budge. Whatever it was eating must have been great.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ecuador - Heaven on Earth! Part 1

Guagua Pinchicha Volcano, Ecuador... What a view!
Just when I thought that I could not see anything prettier than what I had thus far in life... I awoke after a late night flight to the spectacular scenery that surrounds Quito, Ecuador. My good friend and I recently spent 6 days in Ecuador doing some birding and sightseeing. To sum up the trip it was nothing short of absolutely spectacular. The only regret was that I did not spend the entire time birding and took 2 full days to do some city tours.

Booted Racket-tail... Tandayapa, EC. This was my favorite of the 20 species of Hummingbirds we saw on our trip.

We spent our time in Ecuador primarily in three places. San Jorge Quito, San Jorge Tandayapa, and San Jorge Milpe. All three are owned and operated by San Jorge Eco Lodges and Reserves. . Each reserve is unique in that is set in a different elevation starting at the top with San Jorge Quito at approx. 9,500 feet above sea level. Within each lodge site you get an entirely different habitat offering a great diversity of birds.

Purple-bibbed Whitetip... Tandayapa, EC.

Of the three lodges, Tandayapa certainly reigned supreme with its wide variety of hummingbirds and their willingness to do a heavy traffic variety show all day as you eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hummingbirds by the hundreds are constantly buzzing around the feeders in an attempt to get their share of the sugar water provided by the lodge.

Purple-throated Woodstar (F), Tandayapa, EC... I did not take many good pictures but this is one of my favorites. She was so "puffed-up"on this perch.

We were fortunate enough during our visits to the three lodge to have Jorge Cruz (the owner and local bird expert) guide us to the hotspots throughout the reserves. He and his wife were both wonderful people and did a fantastic job identifying birds that would have otherwise caused hours of debate. Dr. Cruz was very knowledgeable and his passion for birds is apparent from the very start.

Andean Emerald, Tandayapa, EC.

In all we seen about 123 species while in Ecuador. I fell short of my goal which was 150 but I believe that goal would have been easily hit had we not taken the city tours. This trip brought my Life List to 393 leaving alot of opportunity for me to hit my goal of 500 this year!

More to come....

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal