I apologize for the delay between updates. I have become rather busy between getting a new job, preparing to move to a new city, and buying a first home. Also, Jaime and I are expecting the first chick in our nest in August. So no matter how many birds I see, 2013 will definitely be a big year.
Before making the drive to Fort Wayne to go look at houses this past weekend, I was able to make some time for Eagle Creek, and my first birding day in March proved to be incredibly successful. I finished with 31 species for the day, which is definitely a high so far this year. Eight of those were ducks, four were lifers, and one was a bona fide rarity. I now have 65 birds in Indiana this year, 15 of which have been completely new to me.
The lake behind the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center was like an international airport with all of the take-offs and landings of water fowl. Spring migration is definitely in full force for ducks. I was fortunate enough to see these sleek Northern Pintails for my 62nd bird of the year. They were also one of my life birds for the day.
Year bird #063 and a lifer as well was the above-pictured Long-Tailed Duck. This bird spends its summers in the high Arctic and its winters in the open ocean, so seeing one this far inland is definitely not an everyday experience. Ebird qualifies this as a “rare” bird for Indiana, and I was indeed aware of its presence thanks to the IN-Bird-L listserv. I didn’t go to Eagle Creek with specific hopes of finding it; I only decided that if I happened to see it, then my trip would be that much better. So when I pulled into the parking lot to see two other birders scoping the lake, I decided to investigate. I got busy documenting the other ducks (Mallard, Ring-Necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Redhead, Northern Pintail, and year bird #064 and lifer Green-Winged Teal), when suddenly the Long-Tailed Duck swooped down after only 20 minutes and landed within the range of my camera’s lens. I was able to snap the one photo above right as my batteries died, which is fortunate, because the duck left only moments later. With the several times I have dipped on rarities, I was definitely in the right place at the right time for this bird.
My final lifer on the day and year bird #065 was a Golden-Crowned Kinglet, a bird I had been trying to track down all winter. I wasn’t able to get a photo, much like the above-mentioned Green-Winged Teal, but that bird ended a highly productive day. From what I understand, neotropical migrants should soon be showing themselves in Indiana, so I am looking forward to my list really taking off in the next month.