Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yellow Rail in Downtown Indianapolis!

There are some things in life that are just more important than sleeping in! Yeap, this past Sunday I finally decided that I was going to have a slow morning. I was tired, a little down, and eager to sleep in after several months of go, go, go! Well, I did sleep in a bit but was suddenly awakened (earlier than I wanted) by my cell phone. Before the message ended and after I heard the words "Yellow Rail" I was dressed and ready to go. Don Gorney had discovered this misguided bird while driving downtown Indianapolis on Sunday. After assuming the bird was either lost or a victim of a window strike, Don called out the troops (which thankfully included me) to help catch the bird so that it could be released in a more suitable habitat.

Yellow Rail (photo by J. Mueller)... Downtown Statehouse, Indianapolis, IN
By the time I had arrived, several dedicated individuals were already looking throughout the bushes on the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse in search for this secretive bird. After about 20 minutes, Don rediscovered the bird. It quickly flew out of the roses and into a another group of small shrubs and hid almost instantly. We found it again and after everyone had a chance to take pictures and look at the bird we gathered around and prepared to capture it. While Don held the net, another gentleman and I got down on our knees and prompted the bird to move forward into the net... it did just what we wanted, was caught, and was taken to a nearby wetland. It was a strong bird so I believe it will be OK. Since their behavior is to fly low up and then back down into hiding, the bird would have likely been hit by a car if it had not been captured. An absolutely awesome experience AND the first time I have ever seen a Yellow Rail.
Yellow Rail (photo by L Voss)... Downtown Indianapolis, IN. Can you see it? I like this picture since it shows the secretive behavior of the Rail.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A fall day...not much to say.

I hadn't been able to get out much in the past couple of weeks but this past Sunday I was able to take a morning stroll around my parents property to enjoy some of the nice weather and beautiful scenery that comes will Fall. The day was extremely peaceful and is exactly what I was looking for - along with a bird or two if possible.
House Finch... a very under appreciated bird. There were House Finches everywhere. All appeared to be happy and healthy and were enjoying the day as much as I was.

A female House Finch... belting a few fall sounds.

Eastern Bluebird... A somewhat drab adult but a beautiful bird nonetheless. There was alot of bird activity on the property but not many species. Lots of Bluebirds, House Finches, Goldfinches, Field Sparrows, Blue Jays, Carolina Chickadees, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Downy Woodpecker.

A most beautiful death... I paused for a minute to take one last look behind me before heading back up to the house when this Milkweed caught my eye. I stared at it for a short while thinking that I had never realized an exploding milkweed seedpod was so beautiful!
I have never been a big fan of fall in the past but over the last couple of years I have come to enjoy it more and more. It is truly a peaceful time of year that is unlike any other. There is a sadness to the season that will provoke me to pause and just stare at my surroundings. It seems to be nature's way of saying goodbye with a few simple reminders (such as this Milkweed pod) telling us that goodbye's aren't forever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Big Sit! Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis, IN

Red-shouldered Hawk... Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis. This cooperative Hawk was very close to the Big Sit circle allowing for everyone to get a good look at it. My wife took this picture.
This past Sunday (10/11) was the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society's first annual Big Sit. It took place at Eagle Creek Park on the west side of Indianapolis. It was in a great location overlooking the lake and very close to the new Ornithology Center. Participants and visitors got the double treat of looking for birds on the outside and learning about them on the inside. In all, I believe more than 50 species were documented at the Sit!

Me, Lorena, and Ceth

My wife and I took 4 of our 5 children to the Sit for a couple of hours, it was chilly but they didn't seem to care much. They were instantly involved with the event and eager to find a new bird that hadn't been reported.

Me and Serena... checking out the waterfowl on the lake.

Lorena... likely looking at the Canada Geese, American Coots, or Mallards on the lake.

I am very fortunate that 4/5 kids are beginning to love birds as much as I do. It is true that you kids will love what you love. We as parents make a huge impact on our kids... youth in general. They are all so excited to tell me about birds everyday. Whether it be something they saw at the feeder, saw at school, from the car, bus, whatever it may be, they are ready to tell their dad all about it! Nothing could make me happier!

Me, Lorena, and Evan (blue hood)... all very involved with the birds. By my look, this was probably when I was happily staring at either the Gadwalls or Wigeons.

Spider and Prey... this wasn't taken at the Big Sit but I had to include it. As I was taking this picture the Spider was moving all over the place to get away but he would NOT let go of his prize.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Indiana Audubon Society's Fall Festival - 3 Lifers!

Lincoln's Sparrow... Dunes State Park, IN. One of 3 Lifers for me over the weekend.
Last weekend, my nephew and I attended the Indiana Audubon Society's Fall Festival at the Indiana Dunes State Park. As expected, it turned out to be an awesome event! Birders from across the state gathered to attend seminars, workshops, etc. as well as some quality time birding the Lake Michigan shoreline. I was able to gain 3 lifers over the weekend - LeConte's Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Nelson's Sparrow.

Who is this handsome birder along the Lake Michigan shoreline?

Scenic view from the shore.

Another very attractive view of the Dunes. Gorgeous!

Alison V., Rob R., Me, and Eric R. ... McCool Watershed Basin near the Lakeshore. Alison, Rob, and Eric are each very exceptional birders. I was definitely in the presence of greatness!
I picked up two lifers on Saturday after spending some very wet time at the McCool Watershed Basin along with several participants from the festival. This relatively small area which is in part managed by the Northern Indiana Migratory Bird Association is a haven for some awesome birds! We were very privileged to get to spend some time trampling through the swampland in search of both the LeConte's Sparrow and Nelson's Sparrow. It was extremely rainy and extremely wet but it was all worth it when we got some very good views of both birds, especially the Nelson's which stayed in place for some time for almost everyone to get some spectacular photo quality views of the bird. The LeConte's wasn't as still for us but did flutter up multiple times as we approached allowing all of us to see its very ragged tail and behavior of flying low to the grass and instantly dropping back into the grass. Having both the Nelson's and LeConte's together allowed for some nice comparisons in flight, color, and behavior. We also got some nice views of multiple Savannah Sparrows.

Red-breated Nuthatch... Dunes State Park Nature Center. There were three at the feeders this particular day. They just recently arrived back to the area.

Yellow-rumped Warbler... Dunes State Park. This particular bird was just banded by Brad B., the head Naturalist at the park.
Other highlights of the weekend were presentations by Dr. Ken Brock, Lee Sterrenburg, Ross Brittain, and Alison Vilag (young birder extraordinaire) all of which were absolutely fantastic!
A huge personal thanks to Brad Bumgardner and Amy Wilms and team for pulling together such an outstanding event! I had a awesome time!
World List - 415, ABA List - 220, Indiana List - 193!

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal