“On The Road” Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

With a travel mug full of coffee, and a greasy sack of delectable goodness from McDonalds, I’m “On The Road” to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge.

My first stop though is Lawrenceburg Indiana to meet up with some of the other birders going along. As we head out of Lawrenceburg on this chilly October morning, the sun starts to rise in the East with the promise of a beautiful morning.

This trip, being the second “On The Road” installments is a return to a place where I was only at briefly. The 1st time I had visited Muscatatuck was in March of this year, during my older sons spring break from college. March wasn’t particularly a good month to be there, even though I spotted a couple new birds when I was there. I was hoping for the same luck this trip.

At about 102 miles and taking a little over 2 hours it was a pleasant enough drive. Being this close I’m kind of ashamed that I don’t come here more than I have. This will change. I think an annual spring and fall trip would be a good thing. We arrived at the visitors center and made a pit stop, and checked out the gift shop and the viewing room.

At 7,724 acres of mixed forest, wetlands, and grasslands, this place is massive. With over 280 species of birds reported, I’m ready. We cross the road and start with a short walk on a mowed path with good cover.

A view from behind.

Further down the trail we approach a small pond with the hopes of wading birds. No luck.

This area did produce a fair amount of different species of Sparrows and a few Warblers. We were here for about an hour. And with a lot of ground to cover it was back to the vehicles. Now it was off the asphalt and onto the gravel with all the dust.

We started our drive towards an area called Meyers Cabin. And it just so happens that a cabin festival was going on at the same time.

However, before we arrived at the cabin we had stopped several times to do a little birding. And a good thing to, because as we turned a corner we pulled up to a couple who were watching Red-headed Woodpeckers. There must had been 6 of them going back and forth over the road taking acorns to their holes and storing them.

I haven’t seen this many Red-headed Woodpeckers since we were at Gettysburg. We watched for several minutes before motoring on. We hadn’t gone very far when the lead car pulled over and people started getting out. They all were looking sky ward and I soon found out why.

Mature Bald Eagle

Pair of Bald Eagles

There wasn’t a whole lot of water birds, but we did happen to spot the Pied -bill Grebe alone in this pond. I should have gotten out of the truck to take this picture.

Well, the reason we were heading towards the cabin was because they had opened up a section that’s usually closed to the public. We were there on the last day for this week long public access. We were anticipating wetlands and wading birds as we started along this long road.

What we found at the end was a dried up wetlands. This was very sad. With fall migration in full swing, not being able to view any water fowl. This place should be busy. The drought has really played havoc at Muscatatuck this year. And there’s no relief in sight.

This field should be covered in water.

After this long hike we returned to the cars to head off to our last stop for the day. The trip leader suggested a small marsh area with a viewing platform that over looked a small pond.

This area produced some good Sparrows and Bluebirds. We were on the look out for some Nelson’s Sparrow that had been seen here a few weeks earlier.

Killdeer

Eastern Bluebird

Field Sparrow

Overall we had a good day, with beautiful weather. Who could ask for anything more. A new bird would had been sweet. Oh well, maybe next time.

Muscatatuck was a wonderful place to spend the day, even if you don’t bird. It’s a nice day trip that won’t wear you out once the day is over. I can’t wait to go back in the spring.

So I leave you know with the days bird list.

  1. Canada Geese
  2. Common Crow
  3. Killdeer
  4. Mourning Dove
  5. Grackle
  6. Starling
  7. Blue Jay
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. White-breasted Nuthatch
  10. Carolina Chickadee
  11. White-crowned Sparrow
  12. Eastern Goldfinch
  13. Cedar Waxwing
  14. Tufted Titmouse
  15. Northern Cardinal
  16. White-throated Sparrow
  17. American Robin
  18. Cooper’s Hawk
  19. Northern Flicker
  20. Eastern Bluebird
  21. Song Sparrow
  22. Eastern Towhee
  23. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  24. Wood Duck
  25. Great Blue Heron
  26. Carolina Wren
  27. Golden Crowned Kinglet
  28. Lincoln Sparrow
  29. Swamp Sparrow
  30. Red Wing Black Bird
  31. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  32. Winter Wren-audible
  33. Field Sparrow
  34. Eastern Phoebe
  35. Red-headed Woodpecker
  36. Northern Mockingbird
  37. Pied-billed Grebe
  38. Bald Eagle
  39. Turkey Vulture
  40. Semipalmated Plover


 

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