Franke Park

I like Franke Park in Fort Wayne. It offers a wooded stream with a pond, fields, and successional forest. I always have a good day when I go, so I’m not sure why I don’t go more often. Also: it is right next to the zoo, so sometimes the animals there make weird noises that can be heard from the park, confusing any birders in the area. I had three new year birds today, not including the species of Waterthrush that I was unable to identify and a bird that I saw only momentarily but am 99% sure was a Mourning Warbler. But I am doing this thing right, so I am not counting either of those.

American Redstart

American Redstart

I started off with some pretty great views of this male American Redstart. The orange is for Jaime.

#118 Red-Eyed Vireo

#118 Red-Eyed Vireo

The first year bird of the day was #118 Red-Eyed Vireo, who was busy warbling from the top of a tree that thankfully had no leaves, or he would have been difficult to spot. I have heard several of these guys previously, but I decided early on that I am only counting bids that I actually see (which is why I haven’t added Common Nighthawk yet, despite several of them buzzing over the house this week).

#119 Canada Warbler

#119 Canada Warbler

If you have ever wanted to see the back of a Canada Warbler, you’re welcome. I was able to get some great looks at this bird (#119 and lifer), including the trademarked black necklace, but he turned around as soon as I took this photo and then flew away into the understory. This is what Canadas look like from the front, eh. In case you were wondering, I also saw Canada Geese.

#120 Bay-Breasted Warbler

#120 Bay-Breasted Warbler

Another partial-warbler shot. This is bird #120, Bay-Breasted Warbler, and he doesn’t appear to have a head (thanks, leaf). At least I was able to get the primary field mark.

The Yard List

On Saturday I set out for Fox Island early to try and pump up my list with more spring migrants. I was lucky enough to encounter a group from the Stockbridge Audubon Society conducting a bird survey, and I got to hike with them for several hours. I got ten new year birds, including one lifer: #107 Indigo Bunting, #108 Chestnut-Sided Warbler, #109 Brown Thrasher, #110 Yellow Warbler, #111 Magnolia Warbler, #112 American Redstart, #113 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, #114 White-Crowned Sparrow (finally!), #115 Green Heron, and #116 and life bird Great Crested Flycatcher.

#111 Magnolia Warbler

#111 Magnolia Warbler

As evidenced by the fact that this was my best shot of a year bird, it was a poor day for photos with very overcast skies scattering all of the light.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Not even the easily seen birds got good photos.

Despite the poor picture quality, it was a great weekend for birds, and they just kept on coming once I got home. In Indianapolis, our “yard” was more or less a parking strip separating our house from 51st Street. In Fort Wayne, we have much more suitable habitat, which helps quite a bit.

The New Back Yard

The New Back Yard

We have extensive cover that includes a row of pine trees that screen us from our neighbors to the west, which I think actually does more to attract the birdies than our feeder and bath.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

This is Eleanor the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. She is one of the happy denizens of our new home and has been frequenting the sunflower seed offered by the new feeder that was sent as a housewarming gift by my sister. She has been hanging around for three days now. We have seen a male only briefly; he made a hovering approach for about two seconds this morning, and we were lucky enough to see him while eating breakfast, but he darted away and has disappeared, not to be seen since. Eleanor is cool, but I hope her gentleman caller comes back.

#116 Great Crested Flycatcher

#116 Great Crested Flycatcher

The first morning we observed Eleanor, I saw a pale yellow flicker in the pine trees out of the corner of my eye. After running to get my binoculars, I was able to check Great Crested Flycatcher off of our yard list, not more than 24 hours after checking it off of my life list. I think it’s pretty amazing that we have logged this species in the yard before things like House Finch and White-Breasted Nuthatch.

#117 Least Flycatcher

#117 Least Flycatcher

Yesterday was Flycatcher day at the Majewski homestead, as this small bird appeared just after the Great Crested made its appearance. I originally thought it was a Phoebe, but after a closer look through binoculars and some painful deliberation in my field guide, I concluded Least Flycatcher. People on Facebook agreed, and I ticked this species off both the year list and the yard list at the same time. Here’s hoping that the next yard birds will be Vermillion and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. One can hope, right?

…And We’re Back!

Sorry for the suspense, everybody. I know you have been checking this blog daily, maybe even hourly, to see if I did make it to 100 birds in Indiana by the end of April. Well, with buying a house, moving, shoving couches through windows, cutting box-springs in half, putting together lawnmowers, and grilling chicken, things have been pretty busy. We also just got internet service today after a week-and-a-half without. But now I’m back in the blogosphere. And the answer to the question you have been dying to know is that, yes, at the last hour, I did make it to 100 birds (102, actually).

#099 were two Black Vultures seen soaring above Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne. I was able to spot them because they were flying with a group of Turkey Vultures.

#100 was a Savannah Sparrow seen at Fox Island, and it was a lifer! Unfortunately, I could not get a photo.

#101 was a Baltimore Oriole, first spotted by Jaime, also at Fox Island. She has an eye for orange birds.

#102 Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

#102 Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

#102 was this Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, seen on the same trip to Fox Island. I managed to get a photo of everything on him except for his rose-breast.

#103 Solitary Sandpiper

#103 Solitary Sandpiper

The first year bird in May was #103 Solitary Sandpiper seen at Eagle Marsh.

#104 Eastern Kingbird

#104 Eastern Kingbird

Also on the Eagle Marsh trip was #104 Eastern Kingbird.

#105 Scarlet Tanager

#105 Scarlet Tanager

Moving on to Franke Park, I had a great #105 in this male Scarlet Tanager, which is always one of my favorites.

And to bring things to the present, the most recent bird was #106 House Wren seen while walking through our new neighborhood.

I hope to have a more thorough update this weekend, because I still only have 3 warblers on the year. Plus, our backyard is much better at attracting birds than the small patch of grass we had in Indianapolis.