Brookville Lake is a massive lake, sandwiched between Brookville and Liberty Indiana. And at the northern most point near Liberty the lake becomes real shallow and mudflats develops, which in turn attracts countless shore birds, waders, and gulls. It is a hot spot that most Tri-state birder are familiar with, and probably frequent on a regular basis. And considering the 90 minute drive, I try to make a visit at least a couple of times a year if not more. So yesterday after work I made the drive to Brookville Lake to finally put to rest my questionable sighting of a Hudsonian Godwit back in 2012.
Doubting oneself about a sighting can become a nagging thought that stays in the back of your mind till you finally make that 100%, no-doubt-about-it, in your face, absolutely positive, sighting. I needed this bird in a bad way. So when this particular bird was originally sighted on Sunday evening, and then stayed around when it was confirmed on Monday, I never thought in a million years the Godwit would stick around. Then it was sighted again on Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Now I’m getting that “twitch”. Wednesday evening I was thinking should I stash my gear in the bird-mobile just in case. Surely this bird won’t hang around for one more day. It always seems that these particular birds are just one day wonders, never to be seen by no more than a few lucky birders.
So on Thursday while at work I would frequently check both the Indiana Listserv and the Cincinnati Birders sighting log for anyone to post a sighting on this bird. It wasn’t till about 11:30 when the Indian Listserv showed a birder seeing the Godwit that morning. Well that was enough for me. I called my son to bring my gear and meet me by my car at 2:30.
The drive was painfully long. Normally I’m a pretty patient driver, however at times like this where anything could happen to send this bird flying south for the winter, slow traffic turns me into a nervous wreak and a raving lunatic all at the same time. It was probably a good thing I was by myself.
As I pull up another car is parked with a gentleman getting out of his car and attaching his camera to his monopod. I pull along side an asked if he saw the bird? What bird was I talking about he asked back. Obviously not aware of the Hudsonian Godwit sighting, I pulled over and grabbed my bins and spotting scope. I walked back to their car an introduced myself to Steve and Jeanne Waddle from Richmond Indiana. They frequently come down to this part of the lake an do a little bird watching and take some photographs. Being relatively new to bird watching they were unaware of the Hudsonian Godwit being here for several days.
I quickly set up my scope and started a methodical scan. It’s a large area and this bird could easily be missed among all the other birds and fallen trees that liter the mudflats. I scanned from right to left. Then I repeated from left to right. No bird. I was starting to get that “am I going to dip on the bird again” feeling. Then I saw it. OMG!
As you can probably tell by now these are some really terrible pictures. But in my defense I really had the camera maxed out both optically and digitally. It is super grainy and I tried my best to sharpen it up with my computer program.
My spotting scope offered a much sharper image and I was really able to notice the important field markings. The black tail for one is right on for Hudsonian. And when a immature Bald eagle flew over the area and all the birds flushed I was able to see the dark underwing lining with the almost black leading edge of the wings.
I made sure both Steve and Jeanne had good looks, and for the 90 minutes I was there we got to know each other better. And it turns out Steve is a subscriber to my blog. Small world isn’t it.
I was on cloud 9 during my long drive home, having finally sighted a proper Hudsonain Godwit, and meeting new friends.
All I need now is a Whimbrel and my nemesis bird list will be finished.
Are you sure? Looks like a flamingo to me. 🙂 Seriously great shots, great hit.
Only another birder understands the thrill you describe. Great post.