Business Casual Birding

My new job has me frequently traversing the state and going into small communities in far-flung Indiana counties. Yesterday, I had to attend a town council meeting in an incredibly rural area whose entire county has less people living in it than my neighborhood. But few people generally means more birds. So I took the opportunity to go to the nearby Pine Creek Game Bird Habitat, which was only 20 minutes out of my way, even on gravel roads.

Pine Creek

Pine Creek

Pine Creek is in the heart of windmill country. Don Quixote would quickly meet his match here. Being totally surrounded by these enormous, silent, and spinning monoliths is kind of creepy. But the birding was superb, even if I was dressed to do business. It doesn’t hurt if you have some dirt on your shoes in these salt-of-the-earth farm towns.

Killdeer Klaxon

Killdeer Klaxon

Pine Creek is a haven for pheasants and other grassland birds, but at this time of the year the highlight was the mostly dry marsh. Shore birds were myriad but guarded by screaming hordes of Killdeer who wouldn’t let me sneak up on anything.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Thankfully, not everyone was as quick on the uptake as the Killdeer. Despite screaming and taking off in alarm and causing the whole damn mudflat to fly off, not everyone knew what they were running from. Case in point: this Wilson’s Snipe landed about 20 feet from me when things calmed down.

You can't see me

You can’t see me

I am not used to seeing snipe as stretched out as that. This one was doing a much better job looking like it was supposed to.

White-Rumped Sandpiper

Dunlin

Giving me some ID trouble were this group of Dunlin.

American Pipit

American Pipit

American Pipit gave me a life bird. 99% of the time I go birding alone, so one time I was kind of taken aback when a more experienced birder referred to this bird as “pipp-it,” which sounds silly to me. I had always assumed it was pronounced “pipe-it.” Which one is correct?

Gray-Cheeked Thrush

Gray-Cheeked Thrush

And now to totally switch gears, this bird was seen at Foster Park last weekend. Gray-Cheeked Thrush is motorless bird #131 on the year.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Foster also held a sizeable flock of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, which at first I thought were hummingbirds. No fewer than three individual birds were sporadically hovering at the tips of those little flowers, doing who knows what. This is a behavior I have never seen in these birds, and enough of them were doing it to make me feel like I am missing out on something.

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I also came across this scene from Breaking Bad. I will just stop now.

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Yank… Yank Yank!

It’s been a long time! In between getting a new job and thoroughly wrecking my bike, I have seen some birds.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

While eating a cinnamon roll, making coffee, and holding a baby this morning, I glanced out the window to see a Red-Breasted Nuthatch on the feeder. Later on in the day while “doing yard work,” I managed to get a serviceable photo after being alerted to its continuing presence by a series of pleasant “yank yank yanks.” He was busy flying back and forth from the feeder to the fence to the spruce trees and appearing to stash seeds. I hope this means he is preparing to settle in for the winter, or maybe this is just an impulsive habit that irruptive nuthatches posses?

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch

And here is the other Indiana nuthatch for good measure. There are a couple of guys trying to get the state bird changed to WBNU, and I think I support them.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

The trees by the river at Foster Park that were downed by the storms this summer and the accompanying brushpiles that accumulated around them must make great habitat for Winter Wrens, because I missed them entirely in the first part of the year, but they are out in force now. I even had one in my yard. This has got to be one of the hardest birds to photograph due to its size, secretive nature, and obscuring and dark habitat preference. I am really pleased with what I managed to get.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Despite how much more common they are, this was the best I could do with Golden-Crowned Kinglet. A flock of about 20 was mocking me all throughout the park.

Osprey

Osprey

So about that bike wreck. It happened on my way to Eagle Marsh a few weeks ago. I got pretty banged up, but continued on my way anyway. A guy has got to see some shorebirds, amiright? Or at least an Osprey.

Pied-Billed Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe

The trip also gave me my first encounter of the year with Pied-Billed Grebe. All of these above birds leave me at 130 species on the motorless list!

Raccon

Raccon

On my way back from the bike wreck, I encountered this raccoon.

Life is no way to treat an animal.

“Life is no way to treat an animal.” -KV

But it was looking for a scenic place to spend its last hours. So it goes, Mr. Raccoon. So it goes.