Monday, August 31, 2009

#404, Yellow-crowned Night Heron!

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (picture by J. Velasquez)... Goose Pond FWA!
There is nothing that leaves me more unsettled these days than leaving a bird unidentified. Yesterday, while at Goose Pond, I saw this bird take off from behind some weeds and as it flew away I thought that it was a American Bittern. I had never seen an American Bittern before so I was extremely discouraged that it was too far out for me to add it to my Life list with confidence. I saw the bird again as were were leaving flying back to the same spot I first saw it so I turned back to get another look. As I approached, I scared it off once again and got a look that made me feel sceptical that it was an American Bittern mostly because the bill was pretty thick vs. what my guide was showing for the Bittern. At this point, I decided it was a Night Heron. The next question was, which one. I was not able to take a picture quick enough so I was fortunate that my friend John snapped a few. It was so bright outside, I still could not see the picture well enough to know what type of bird it was. Today, John sent me the picture he had taken to which we both instantly ID'd the bird as Yellow-crowned Night Heron! Very cool! Christmas in August!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Goose Pond FWA, Indiana Brings Life List to 403!

I (along with my friend John) spent some time today at Goose Pond, FWA in Linton, IN, and as always, I left pleased and happy that I went. The Fish and Wildlife Area is managed by the State DNR and has to be one of the best places to bird in Indiana. GPFWA is an 8,000 acre restored wetland area that hosts an enormous amount of wildlife - especially birds! Recently, Goose Pond recorded Indiana's first Roseate Spoonbill! I gained one (potentially 2) lifers during my visit - Blue Grosbeak! I have not confirmed the other just yet, it's either an American Bittern or Black-crowned Night Heron. We'll see what the professionals have to say! Nonetheless, the Blue Grosbeak brought my World Life List to 403 and my Indiana Life List to 187! Through today I have seen 284 species of birds in 2009, 136 species in Indiana. I would love to hit 200 species this year in Indiana. Time is running out!
Anyway, here are some pictures from my day at Goose Pond FWA. Enjoy!

Indigo Bunting, a very, very young Indigo Bunting... My friend found this cute/ ugly little bird as we were being scolded very violently by an extremely hyper female. We knew instantly we were near her nest as she put on quiet a show for us! We took a few pictures and let them be.

Indigo Bunting... the proud parent that DID NOT appreciate our presence today!

Field Sparrow... one of only two Sparrows for the day. We saw several but I am very cautious with Sparrows at this stage of my birding hobby. They are in and out of the grass, I just never feel like I get a good look.

Monarch Caterpillar... Always a treat to see. This one here is on a Milkweed plant which is where Monarchs typically lay their eggs. Of course you can see a large number of Aphids as well - unfortunately!

Monarch... there was lots of Milkweed and lots of Monarchs. Awesome!
Green Heron... not the best picture but it's the best I could get today. I am not sure how many of these we seen today but they were present in mass. There was also a large number of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Snowy Egret, Caspian Terns, and pathetic Digi-scoping!

Snowy Egret... Eagle Creek, Indianapolis, IN. My first in Indiana!

I was able to spend both Saturday and Sunday this weekend doing some birding at our local birding paradise that we are blessed to have here in Indianapolis, IN... Eagle Creek. I was especially excited to come across a very healthy group of shore birds that are beginning to move through town. Since I had to spend most of my time with my eye permanently stuck to my spotting scope, I thought I would try to do some Digi-scoping. Unfortunately, most of my shot didn't turn out. Below are a few of the better.... and obviously I need a lot more practice taking pictures using this method! I can't seem to get the shot as clear as it actually is in the scope? Suggestions are welcome.

Great Egret, Caspian Terns... There was a group of about 30 Caspian Terns present which apparently are common migrants through Indiana. This was my first Indiana sighting of the birds.

Great Egrets, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Terns

Great Egret, Canada Goose

Belted Kingfisher... One of my favorites! Today I was able to witness this bird catch a fish and beat it to death prior to finally swallowing it whole! Pretty cool sight! Not sure what the fish thought about the situation though?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Birding Adventures TV Show! Florida Scrub Jay

If you are not already aware, there is a new TV Show that airs on Saturday mornings on the FOX Sports Net called "Birding Adventures"! It's a show that is dedicated to destination birding and typically highlights a species or two per episode. Today, the target bird was the Florida Scrub Jay. Conservation of the species and efforts to grow populations was the primary topic. I was especially excited about this episode since the Florida Scrub Jay was added to my Life List this past March. They are a beautiful species and are amazingly smart! I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to re post some of my pictures of the Florida Scrub Jay - I do believe this is one of my favorite birds!
If you haven't yet tuned into this new show, I would encourage you to do so. I am so pleased that there is finally a TV Series dedicated to our hobby! You can check out their website at: !
For more information on the Florida Scrub Jay you can go to:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Northern Cardinal x Turkey Vulture! Who knew?

Today, my son asked, "Dad, will you take my birding" - he is 5! How could I say no? We finished up lunch and my son, my daughter, and I took off to do a short birding trip to Southwestway Park in Indianapolis, IN. Here are a few pictures from the day. Although I am always happy to spend time in nature with my kids, I am more amazed at what they discover and what fascinates them. Sometimes they get excited over a bird, an insect, or even a rock, whatever it may be, I know that it is my job to acknowledge their excitement with our natural world. This will ensure they take care of it in the future!
And this Cardinal?

Bald headed Northern Cardinal... Indianapolis, IN. This lovely Cardinal has been visiting my feeder for about 3 weeks now and just doesn't seem to be getting any prettier. My kids keep referring to it as a Turkey Vulture Cardinal! Apparently, this unusual molt happens periodically in both Cardinals and Blue Jays. The issue has yet to be thoroughly studied. You can read more at
Unknown Insect (at the moment)... Indianapolis, IN. I am not sure what this is but my daughter pointed it out and wanted me to take a picture. The picture came out so good I thought it would be worthy to share.

Scarlet Tanager... Indianapolis, IN. Like so many birds, I just can't get enough of this one. So beautiful. This one is a juvenile male. It was in the company of 2 others and some Indigo Buntings. A beautiful make-up of birds, unfortunately, I could not get them in one picture. Scarlet Tanagers winter in southern Central America and northwest South America.

Pearl Crescent... Indianapolis, IN. Birding is so much more than just birds. Don't get me wrong - it is the focus! However, there are so many beautiful things that surround you as you bird - like this butterfly. All you have to do is look around. We are so blessed!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mammoth Cave, KY - 1 Lifer!

This past week, my family and I travelled down to Mammoth Cave, KY to spend the week camping and getting closer to the natural world. We had a wonderful time and was able to see some things that really inspired my kids. Here are a few pictures from our week!

Summer Tanager... Mammoth Cave, KY. Believe it or not, I had yet to see this gorgeous bird. In fact, this was a target bird for me on this trip. I actually saw two, one near our campsite, a female, and this awesome male at the Park. This made my 401st Life Bird!
Bumblebee!... Mammoth Cave, KY. I have come to really like this insect over the past few years. Along with Honeybees, they are extremely hard workers and are very focused on their work. They are so busy that I can put a camera lens almost completely on top of them and they seem to care less.

Wild Turkeys... Mammoth Cave, KY. These two birds were the National Park Welcoming Committee. The were right at the entrance and didn't move much.

An active Bat hibernating cave... Mammoth Cave, KY... too cool!

The sign in front of the cave! I love to see these type of signs!
Red-spotted Purple... Jellystone Park, Mammoth Cave, KY. I chased this butterfly some ways before finally being able to get a picture of it. This picture doesn't do it much justice - a beautiful butterfly.

Wood Thrush... Mammoth Cave, KY. These birds are commonly found flipping through leaves and scrounging among the forest floor looking for insects. This one did a great job posing for me. As you can see, he blends very well within his surroundings.

Black Rate Snake... Mammoth Cave, KY. This snake was just off the trail sunning in a tree. I am pretty sure it is a Rat Snake.

Eastern Box Turtle... Mammoth Cave, KY. This little turtle was found just along one of the trails. He was about the size of a 1/2 dollar. Very cute.

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal