Foster Park: Birding the Underbirded

I regularly scan the Indiana Birding listserv emails looking for things from in and around Fort Wayne. Postings are frequent, but they usually cover the same few places: Fox Island, Eagle Marsh, Franke Parke, and a handful of others. This is for good reason; these sites are the most productive in the area. However, if a great bird were to show up elsewhere, I fear that it would be missed simply because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of surveillance away from these areas.

Foster Park is our neighborhood park, and although it is mostly a golf course, there is some prime riparian forest habitat along the river. So on the last two consecutive weekends I decided to thoroughly bird it for the first time.

Foster Park

Foster Park

Migration has tapered off now that the end of May is in sight, but I had some productive outings nonetheless.

Bay-Breasted Warbler

Bay-Breasted Warbler

Among the big draws that Foster has to offer is a foot bridge spanning the river that elevates you about 20 feet off the ground. This allows for eye-level looks at birds in the trees along the bank. This was one of three Bay-Breasted Warblers to which I was privy in my new elevation.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Large flocks of Cedar Waxwings also seemed to like the river, and they were oblivious to my presence. This one was basically doing laps around my head as it flew from perch to perch in pursuit of insects.

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

This Tennessee Warbler was also enthralled with the all-you-can-eat mosquito buffet. The few bites I sustained were worth it for views of birds like this.

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson’s Warblers were among the most numerous warblers during both of my visits. Unfortunately, their tendency to skulk among dense brush made photo ops less than ideal.

Gray-Cheeked Thrush

Gray-Cheeked Thrush

Being at this whole birding thing for over two years now, I am finally able to make confident IDs of the brown thrushes. Whereas before I would have puzzled over this bird indefinitely, I was able to pick it out as a Gray-Cheeked Thrush at first glance. Dull plumage, a pale underside and lack of a distinct eye-ring are give-aways.

I didn’t have any life birds during these outings, but I did pick up quite a few annuals that had evaded me so far in 2014. I foresee many more trips in the future.

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