A Pretty Good Weekend

On Saturday I headed back to Eagle Marsh to check on the mudflats and see if anything new flew in.

Green Heron

Green Heron

My first good sign was a rather cooperative Green Heron.

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

The mud was pretty calm because it was the heat of the day, but the very first bird I saw was #114 for the motorless list: Semipalmated Plover. As I watched it dodge Killdeer, I realized that I had somehow never seen one in Indiana, so state bird too, embarrassingly enough.

Great Egret

Great Egret

The only other thing of note was this super relaxed Great Egret. At first I thought it might be injured, but after a while it stood up on both legs and flew away with no problem. Does anyone know what it might have been doing? I have never seen one adopt this position before.

After Eagle Marsh, I decided to bike again today despite the heat to try and mop up another bird that has been evading me on the motorless list: Pileated Woodpecker. I headed to Fox Island with this bird in mind.

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

My route took me past the quarry where Blue Grosbeak has become my nemesis over the last two years, but today I decided to stop and look around for one. I found two birds rather easily. Nemesis slayed! Even though this juvenile bird is in some boring plumage, check out the size of that bill. You can’t be disappointed with that. Lifer, and motorless #115. Further down the road closer to Fox Island I encountered two more, including a blue adult male that I couldn’t get a picture of but bringing my total to four individuals, which was pretty exciting.

Inside of the park, I was riding high from BLGR and totally pumped to see my woodpecker (which is the same one that deviled me during my Taken For Granted Challenge with The Laurence last year). As I was riding around, my eyes caught a largish bird that at first I mistook for a Gray Catbird.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Nope, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo! Lifer #2 for the day (actually within half an hour) and motorless #116. I was thrilled to see this bird, because my only other experience with one has been as a carcass on the sidewalk by my office.

On the ride out, I did finally manage Pileated Woodpecker flying over the road in the same place where I saw two of the grosbeaks. My list is now at 117, and getting two unexpected lifers made today one of the best outings I have had in a while. I was happy enough to be singing a little bit in my head on the way home, and appropriately enough, my favorite Scottish pop group has some songs that are totally appropriate for these birds.

 

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Terrible Photos of Pretty Good Birds

First, I’d like to say that if anyone has traveled here thanks to the shout out that I got from 10,000 birds, thank you!

I went looking for migrants in Fort Wayne this weekend, but with all of the flooding that we have right now it wasn’t easy. I made a quick stop at Eagle Marsh looking for rails and warblers, but it was mostly inaccessible from high water so I didn’t find much beyond year bird #092 Barn Swallow (#091 Chimney Swift was seen earlier in the week at Lakeside Park).

Somewhat discouraged, I headed to Fox Island. But the road was flooded, so I had to turn around.

My next stop was Franke Park, where I had substantially better luck. New year birds were #093 Gray Catbird, #094 Winter Wren, and #095 Northern Rough-Winged Swallow. I did not get photographs of any of them.

Later in the day, a tip from IN-Bird-L let me know about a Cattle Egret close to Eagle Marsh, so Jaime and I went over again with a specific target bird on our list.

#096 Great Egret

#096 Great Egret

We were happy to see small white blobs in the distance at Eagle Marsh. They did not include a Cattle Egret, but Great Egrets were still a needed year bird for me, clocking in at #096.

#097 Cattle Egret

#097 Cattle Egret

A little further down the road, we hit paydirt. This is what a Cattle Egret looks like from about 200 yards away (he is the one up in the tree). If he was by himself, I would not have been positive on the ID. But thankfully he was hanging out with a Great Blue Heron and a few other Great Egrets for size comparison, and in this shot I was able to discern his short bill. Year bird #097, and my first viewing of this species in the Midwest.

#098 Peregrine Falcon

#098 Peregrine Falcon

After our successful Egret hunt, Jaime and I had dinner at Pint and Slice in downtown Fort Wayne. Birds were totally off of my radar until we both heard a strange screeching noise coming from directly above us. Looking 90 degrees straight up, we found one of the city’s resident Peregrine Falcons peeking out from over the top of the PNC Center. I had seen evidence of this fellow earlier in the week when I stumbled upon the disembodied wing of a Northern Flicker on the sidewalk in front of my office, so it was nice to see the perpetrator himself for year bird #098.

I have 9 days to find 2 more birds to meet my 100 bird deadline for the end of April. Hopefully, they can also be additions to a brand new yard list when we are moved into our new house!

Birding in Exotic Locales

Since I haven’t seen much of note lately, I will share some birds I’ve seen in various travels over the past couple of years.

Red-Masked Parakeet

Red-Masked Parakeet

While in San Francisco in the summer of 2010, I came across one of the more famous established populations of introduced parrots in the United States (there’s a movie about it if you don’t believe me, and yes, Jaime and I have watched it). They call them Cherry-Headed Conures in the movie, but the generally accepted birding name is Red-Masked Parakeet.

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

The Brewer’s Blackbird is about as common as the European Starling in San Francisco, but I had never seen one before the trip.

Great Egret

Great Egret

The Great Egret can be found in Indiana, but I got a pretty good photo op of this guy while in San Francisco, too.

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

I discovered this Pygmy Nuthatch while biking the Front Range of the Rockies in Golden, Colorado in spring of 2010.

Worm-Eating Warbler

Worm-Eating Warbler

This Worm-Eating Warbler was sunning itself on a mountainside in the Shenandoah National Forest in Front Royal, VA when I lived close by in the summer of 2007.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is another Indiana resident, but this one was photographed at my parents’ house in Apex, NC in the spring of 2008.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

And ditto for this Brown Thrasher.