Almost skunked

Not literally. That is the term that I have picked up from other birders when there isn’t much to see. I was out at Eagle Creek by 6:00 this morning hoping to be there bright and early for any owls still up and moving and for when the shorebirds decided to start their day on the mudflat. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see besides the regulars.

Then, right when I was heading back to my car, a black and orange streak whizzed by my head. I had already seen several similarly colored Baltimore Orioles, but this bird was much smaller, warbler-sized. That narrowed it down pretty easily: American Redstart!

American Redstart

American Redstart

This is a bird I had never seen before other than on the pages of my Peterson guide. It was very nice ending the day with a lifer, especially since I had to work for this picture after the initial sighting. The bird hid itself pretty well in thick tree cover but was taunting me by singing its song that Peterson describes as zee zee zee zee zwee (it turns out that this description was actually helpful for me to identify the bird). After combing the treetops in the area where the zeeing was coming from, I saw it dart out and cross over the path again. It eventually settled in the tree pictured above, which made it easier to see and allowed me to get one passable photograph.

After about 15 minutes of stalking the Redstart with binoculars, I was approached by two other birders who looked to be much more expert than I with their probably several-thousand dollar cameras. They asked me what I had, and they were very excited when I pointed it out. One of them said it was either staying on its summer grounds really late or migrating pretty early.

I guess the progression of bird migration goes shorebirds then warblers then ducks. If today was any indication, the warblers are about to start coming back through Indy very soon, because there were almost no shorebirds and my one lifer was very unexpected.

My day list is on eBird.

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August Shorebirds

Shorebird migration is in full swing across Indiana, and over the past two weekends I made it out to two different sites to see what I could find.

First up was Eagle Marsh on the south side of Fort Wayne. I had never been there before, and it didn’t disappoint! I logged 25 species and 2 lifers:

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

I am slowly beginning to be able to distinguish between all these sandpipers. The Pectoral Sandpipers at Eagle Marsh were identified by the band of brown streaks that stops abruptly at their chest. The individual second from the left that is directly facing the camera shows off this field mark particularly well.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Lifer #2 was this Marsh Wren who was telling me off very loudly for getting too close to his territory.

 

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Also present was this Belted Kingfisher who would not let me get any closer than this to take his picture.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

These two Common Yellowthroats were much more accommodating for me and my camera. My full list for the day can be found on eBird.

My second stop for shorebirds in August was the always reliable Eagle Creek in Indianapolis. My day list included 35 species, one of which was a lifer.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

This Lesser Yellowlegs was my only lifer on the day, but it was only about 10 yards from shore and basically posed for me to photograph it. Named for its gigantic bright yellow legs, this huge sandpiper is only “lesser” in comparison to the also aptly-named Greater Yellowlegs, who was unfortunately not around.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees were also everywhere, like always. A full disclosure of all the birds I saw is available at eBird, which is way cooler than I originally thought and will now be housing all of my checklists.

 

Honeymoon Birding

This past Monday minus one year, I got to marry the woman of my dreams! Not only does she put up with this bird obsession of mine, but she actually embraces it, too! As anyone who attended our wedding can attest, there were birds involved. Is that love or what?

Stuff!

Stuff!

As I am sure you are all surprised to hear, there was also much birding going on during our honeymoon to Maine. Observe!

Common Eider

Common Eider

Common Eiders were everywhere! Including the dockside bar that we went to before our sunset cruise in Portland Harbor one night. One of them was so trashed that she came right up to our table, removed everything from it, and demanded that she take our picture all the while telling us how much she hates Tom Brady and people from Massachusetts in general.

Double-Crested Cormorant

Double-Crested Cormorant

Though frequently seen in Indiana, Double-Crested Cormorants also abounded in Maine. We ran into this one at Wal-Mart, where we grudgingly had to go (twice) because we forgot to pack beach towels and I broke my flip-flops.

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

We got lost on our way to see Lenny the Chocolate Moose one day, so I had to stop and ask this Herring Gull for directions.

Osprey

Osprey

This Osprey forgot to keep putting on sunscreen because it was so cold with the wind blowing off the ocean, and it ended up getting really ridiculously sunburned.

Great Black-Backed Gull

Great Black-Backed Gull

This Great Black-Backed Gull paid $20 for a margarita and was so mad that it stole a pen from the bar when it paid its bill so that it could get even.

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

This Semipalmated Plover drove us around all week in a seafoam green Ford Focus.

Sanderling

Sanderling

Sanderlings finally convinced Jaime to eat a lobster… after an afternoon of pub crawling around Portland.

Rock Dove

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeons served us some excellent pastries at a French cafe downtown.

A Flock of Seagulls

A Flock of Seagulls

On our last day, we were so tired that we just decided to veg out! It was a great trip!