Blah blah blah the weather, blah snow, blah blah cold, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it before.
Today, however, it approached 60 degrees and I got my bird on! I had the single most productive day of the year so far (even including January 1st) by dusting off my bike, cruising the river greenways around Fort Wayne, and looking for waterfowl. In my hiking boots, windbreaker, safety helmet, and gleaming white complexion on top of Jaime’s off-road bike, a friendly gentleman called out to me “That is straight gangsta!” as I rode past. He must have known I was heading to the water treatment plant to look at ducks. Because the birding was straight gangsta.
My path took me downtown, where I picked up the first motorless bird of the day: Rock Pigeon. New list. Count it!
When I got to the terminal pond next to the very swollen river, I immediately saw a new county bird in American Black Duck. Then the massive flock of Canada Geese close to shore got spooked by something (me) and flew off, leaving only coots and a large white-backed duck from whence they launched. Canvasback! This is actually a life bird for me, and I was stoked to see it. I wondered if going motorless would net me any life birds, and it looks like the answer is yes.
My next fist pump (okay, so it was a double fist pump) came for Snow Goose. I was originally disappointed that one of those funky domesticated barnyard geese had snuck in with the other good ones, but as the bird swam closer I realized what it actually was. Snow Goose is not a life bird for me, but it is so far easily the best bird of the year. They are not numerous in Indiana away from the southwestern part of the state (where Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area is), and I had only seen a few of them before and never gotten a photograph. Solid.
In all, my bicycle voyage netted me 14 new birds for the motorless list, including 3 county and 1 life bird. But the birds weren’t done. Once I got home, Jaime, Walter and I were preparing to go for a walk when a small hawk came swooping in over our heads and disappeared into the trees in our back yard. Its squeaky dog toy vocalizations told me right away that this was the Sharp-Shinned Hawk I tried to imagine last week. Good for a new tick on the motorless and also the yard list. Then, once we got back and I was hanging blinds in the to-be new baby’s bedroom, I heard the unmistakable trilling of Sandhill Cranes. I ran outside just in time to see one huge wave flying over the house.
The moral of the story is that patience pays off. I have felt like a hermit for the last several months, but one good outing today gave me more than I was hoping for. After becoming somewhat pessimistic about my prospects to see 100 birds without a car this year, I am suddenly right back in it.