Weekend Update

I went birding this weekend, and now I’m going to blog about it. So if you thought you would be spared another post of me stretching my puny zoom to the limit across the expanse of the Fort Wayne water treatment ponds, then you are sorely mistaken.

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Horned Grebe

Despite my best efforts, this is not a Common Loon. HOGR had the honor of being my last 2015 motorless bird, so now I don’t have to sweat it out in November.

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Lesser Scaup

A raft of Lesser Scaup that actually aren’t Ring-necked Ducks! Even from this atrocious distance, the lack of a pointy white thing creeping up from the flank is absent. A bird not seen enough, and not at all last year.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

WBNU posed nicely.

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The Salmon of Capistrano

I tallied six new green species on Sunday, the scaup being the highlight. All of the early migrants are back, including Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Phoebe, Wood Duck, and Tree Swallows doing what swallows do.

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The City Proper

I usually go out towards the edge of town to bird, but on Sunday I pedaled into the interior city limits to hit two scenic destinations: a water treatment plant and a cemetery.

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Jumping on the river greenway downtown, the first interesting bird I noticed were a few Northern Shovelers. I think this is the first time I have ever seen their bright orange legs.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

Arriving at the water treatment plant, the only other bird of note was a lone Horned Grebe bobbing waaaay out on the terminal ponds. I wouldn’t have bothered to post this shot except for that it is a new motorless bird good for #137.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

With the waterfowl mostly a bust I headed back through downtown to visit a sparsely birded but occasionally great Lindenwood Cemetery. It was my first visit of the year, and my mission was finches. I came up totally empty (unless you count goldfinches), although I was able to acquaint myself with some of the more common birds around, including a pair of Blue Jays foraging for acorns among the headstones and a flock of about 9,000,000 Dark-Eyed Juncos. The Red Crossbill reported from Thanksgiving day was not to be seen.

But: funny birding story. I pedaled into the middle of the cemetery, which was almost completely deserted. I ignored the one single car there and ate a hasty peanut butter sandwich while listening for finch calls. When I was done eating, I pulled out my phone to play a recording of Red Crossbill, hoping to get really lucky. Within 10 seconds, the door to the car flew open, and a gentleman stepped out calling with some hesitation, “…Are you birding?” My answer: “Yes.” His reply: “Did you just play a tape?” My reply: “Yes.” He continued: “Of a Red Crossbill?” My response, now on guard: “Yes…” I was mostly playing the recording for my own education, since I have never heard nor seen RECR, but this guy was totally not expecting anyone else to be there birding, let alone birding on a bike, so he was about through the roof thinking he had found the bird. Oops. Disclaimer: I don’t use playback very often, but have been known to on occasion. In the end, he asked me to play it again in the off chance it would attract the bird. +1 for cool other birders.

With exactly one month to go in 2015, I may have finally plateaued in my challenge for the year unless something crazy lands in my neighborhood (but there are currently both a Townsend’s Solitaire and a Green-Tailed Towhee in the state, so who knows?). With regular sub-freezing temperatures now on tap, I may have my cycling opportunities over with, although there was a Snowy Owl reported yesterday that is only 15 miles away from home, so…

(Just kidding, Jaime!)

Spring Waterfowl

Wednesday was my last day at my old job, and Thursday was a day devoted to packing up the house for the impending move. And birding. I had my best day of waterfowl so far at Eagle Creek, and spring migration is in full force for ducks and grebes.

#066 Bufflehead

#066 Bufflehead

A new duck for me, and year bird #066, was the Bufflehead. In addition to having an awesome name, these ducks are one of the smallest in North America. A large raft of them was easily visible from the viewing deck at the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center. Other first-of-the-year birds for me were #067 Pied-Billed Grebe and #068 (and lifer) Red-Breasted Merganser.

#068 Horned Grebe

#069 Horned Grebe

Year bird #069 was this very cooperative Horned Grebe, a bird I had only seen one previous time several years ago outside of Wilmington, NC.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

A duck that I already have on my year list but is great nonetheless is the Hooded Merganser. There were at least a dozen floating close to the observation deck, allowing for good photo ops.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Another sign of spring was this pair of flirting Belted Kingfishers. They kept chasing each other around and making their high-pitched rattling call. I believe the male is on the right. It was a good thing these two were so preoccupied with each other, because Kingfishers are usually not tolerant of a close approach.