Not at Home and Close to Home

My job frequently has me traveling to far flung corners of Indiana and occasionally other states. This past week put me in Oakland City, Indiana, otherwise known as home to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. You know what I had to do.

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Patoka River NWR

I only had about an hour to kill before I got back on the road, but thanks to local advice from Facebook, I was able to hit a productive spot.

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Snakey Point Marsh

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Ducks

Most of my views were about like this (how many species of ducks in the photo above?), which leaves little of use photo-wise for this blog, but it did allow me to really flesh out my Gibson County list. Actually, I did a lot of birding paint-by-number in weird little rural counties that I would otherwise have few reasons to visit. Those of you eBirding since last summer know what I’m talking about.

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My Indiana Map

There they are in all of their light-orange-to-red glory. This has got to be some sort of clever trick by the Cornell folks to get people to eBird more. Give them a snappy color-coded map to fill in with all kinds of bird sightings. Driving through Owen County? Don’t forget to add the pigeons you saw at the gas station and the Red-tailed Hawks sitting on every other fencepost. I added probably 100 county ticks on my state map from my route from Fort Wayne (brightest red – 186 species) down to Evansville (opposite corner) and back. I can’t wait for the day when there’s no more gray left on this map.

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Bird ID Quiz

Closer to home, I had a couple of hours to get out of the house yesterday. As I was preparing my bike to ride out to Eagle Marsh, a trio of American Crows started raising hell in the spruce trees behind my house. I assumed they had found my resident Barred Owl, but I decided I would take a look to find out just in case it was something better. This was about as good of a look as I got until the dappled brown lump turned its head and showed me that it was actually a Great Horned Owl, which is yard bird #70! I was worried that Grosbeak Gardens would forever be stuck at 69 species, because it will only be my yard for a couple more weeks. I will give it a proper goodbye in the next post.

Invigorated (and having spent a not insignificant part of my birding time in the back yard), I ditched the bike plans and instead walked over to Foster Park for what will probably be one of its last times as my local patch. I hung out with the common folk, and it was nice.

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Brown Creeper

I don’t know if it’s me or the park, but I always have an incredible time with the Brown Creepers. I think I have said before that you can just about pet them at Foster Park if you want to. Here is a close-up of a Brown Creeper ear.

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American Robin

American Robins look and act cool. They hunt with ruthless and deadly efficiency. But they are really common and their movements constantly make you think that a less obvious migrant just landed on the ground over there. Oh well. This one did ferocious battle with an annelid (and won).

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Winter Wren

Ever since a storm a few summers ago blew down a bunch of trees by the river, Foster Park has been thick with Winter Wrens in the late winter and early spring. This fellow was irritated that I was walking through his space, but he provided me with the best look and photo of his kind that I have ever had.

I will miss Foster Park a lot. I will still be able to visit it, but it will take the better part of an afternoon to get there and back from my new place. Although it might end up being worth the trip, because it is by far the best place to find Yellow-throated Warblers and Barred Owls in the county from what I have seen. In the meantime, I will have to find a new local patch. I’m looking forward to that, though!

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