Daily Archives: January 12, 2013

“On The Road”

Miami Whitewater Forest & Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary

The objective for today was to get some birding in, which would lead to more January birds before it started to rain this afternoon. Wanting to get a quick start to the day I got up at 4:30 and made my way to the local mini-mart for a birders breakfast of coffee and donuts. Why I got up this early is beyond me. Besides the hour drive to Miami Whitewater I still had lots of spare time before it was light enough to see anything over the wetlands. So I cooled my heels till just after 7 am when I made my walk up the Western edge of the wetlands.

Scanning the horizon as the sky lightened I could make out Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers giving the Owls grief as they hunted. Wanting to get a closer view of the action I cut across the marsh at the dike that connects the Western edge with the observation gazebo. It was during this little short cut when I scared up 3 Red-winged Blackbirds, which has been pretty hard to come by this winter. More birds to the list, which continued to grow during my visit this morning. I was able to check off Field and Fox Sparrow, and had a nice fly over of some Sandhill Cranes.

However the main part of the trip was yet to come as I made my way to Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary near Connorsville Indiana, and just outside of the 50 mile radius from home, which make this a “Road Trip”. I’ve never heard of this place before which kind of surprises me since it’s relatively close to home. So the reason for this trip was a posting on Cincinnati Birds of some Evening Grosbeaks visiting a feeder at a house inside the sanctuary. These are some very cool birds with the most unique coloration on them. My first and only experience with Evening Grosbeaks was small flock flying about the Villa at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. That was years ago and I thought a deserved another look, so this is a golden opportunity.

IMG_3717No signs are necessary when you have a big rock with the name etched in it. After you pass this rock you dive into some pretty dense woods which seems out of place considering all the farm land you pass on the way there.

As I parked the car my friend Bruce pulls up and when he saw me he knew this had to be the place. As you might have  guessed, we run into each other every now and again, and both our goals was to see and or get some pictures of these Grosbeaks. So after saying our hello’s  I walked up to the front door of the house where the birds were feeding. The owner of the house, Amy, was very hospitable and let myself and others crowd in the enclosed back porch and wait, and wait, and wait. Then the first one showed up…

IMG_3707a beautiful male.

IMG_3710Then he was joined by a female.

IMG_3712Then another male showed up.

IMG_3714Then a 3rd male made an appearance. They feed for a couple of minutes then they were gone. A lone female appeared after everyone ate and seemed a little apprehensive to come to the feeder.


This trip was well worth the gas to see these birds close-up, and I was able to add some more birds to my January Challenge.

  • #83-Field Sparrow
  • #84-Fox Sparrow
  • #85-Sandhill Crane
  • #86-Evening Grosbeak
  • #87-Red-winged Blackbird
  • #88-Short-eared Owl

Other notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Harrier
  2. American Kestrel
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Song Sparrow
  5. Swamp Sparrow
  6. White-throated Sparrow
  7. White-crowned Sparrow
  8. Tree Sparrow
  9. House Finch
  10. Gold Finch
  11. Dark-eyed Junco
  12. Downy Woodpecker
  13. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  14. Northern Cardinal
  15. Mallard
  16. Canada Goose
  17. Eastern Bluebird
  18. Wild Turkey
  19. Mourning Dove
  20. American Robin
  21. Carolina Wren
  22. Eastern Towhee
  23. Tufted titmouse
  24. Carolina Chickadee
  25. American Crow