Yesterday I drove 4 1/2 hours for this 1st ever recorded Burrowing Owl for Kentucky. Being present for almost 2 weeks this bird has drawn a lot of attention. What’s so unusual about this owl is where it’s hiding. Not in the usual burrow as you might think, but in a crack of asphalt on top of a road culvert.
Time clicked away as the Owl sit in it’s crack, always scanning. It was about the time I was leaving when a farmer on his ATV drove by that the bird spooked out of it’s hole. It returned to the road before hopping into it’s crack when I got a few more photos.
Treaty Line Road, Liberty Indiana
Phalaropus fulicarius, or commonly known as Red Phalarope has been kind of a pseudo-nemesis bird for me. I feel it’s the most difficult bird of the 3 Phalarope species to spot inland no matter what time of the year it is. I’ll hear about sightings of them along Lake Erie, however those sightings seem to be of birds in flight as they’re passing through during migration. Last year in the Autumn we had a particularly strong storm that came out of the north with north to south winds. A Red Phalarope dropped in at the beach at East Fork State Park for the remainder of the day, and by the time I got there early the next day it was gone.
So needless to say searching out this particular species would be pointless around where I live, and opportunities aren’t necessarily showing up, it came as quite a surprise to read on the Indiana Rare Bird Alert that one dropped in at the mudflats along Treaty Line Road. And it doesn’t surprise me that it would be here, because this spot can be Hot, with a capitol “H”.
Having read the post Saturday evening I told myself that it’s probably just another one day wonder and it’ll be gone by the morning. But when morning came along during my second cup of coffee I read that it stayed through the night. Off I went on another chase.
The drive over was uneventful even though my stupid GPS took me all on back roads and with hardly any gas left in the tank I limped in a gas station in Liberty Indiana. A couple of minutes after hanging up the nozzle I turned onto Treaty Line Road. You have to drive almost to the end before you’re able to view the mudflats. The lack of cars at the viewing area wasn’t a good sign. I noticed a pick-up that had turned around and was heading back. I stopped and aked if he was there for the Phalarope and did he see it. He did and then he said it had flown off. My heart sank and I felt sicker than I already was.
I was still going to check it out. It was a long drive and worth the effort I thought. David, the guy in the pick-up truck, had a familiar name and one I’d seen with postings on Facebook. We struck up a conversation while I got my spotting scope up and started to scan. It took no more than a few minutes before I was able to re-locate the bird. JACKPOT!
The bird was really far of and these 2 photos don’t do any justice to the actual bird. But it’s a far cry better than having no pictures, like the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that I saw a week or so ago.
I’m a pretty avid reader of the ABA Blog, and I always love reading the Rare Bird Report. All those really cool birds that people spot and take photos of that are always in other people’s back yards, never yours. Now one bird I’ve seen reports on through the years was of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Usually you read about these birds while folks are birding in Alaska somewhere. Never in a million years would one show up, at least not literally, in my back yard.
This last Saturday my wife and myself were on our way to Detroit to baby sit our Grandson while our daughter and husband ran in the Detroit Marathon on Sunday. While getting settled in on Saturday afternoon I opened up Facebook at the various birding pages I belong to, and lo and behold, someone spotted a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (ABA Code 3) at Killdeer Plains NWR northwest of Columbus. I’ve birded there before and it’s massive, covering 9,000 acres.
The predicament I was in was that I didn’t have any of my gear. No binoculars, spotting scope, or camera. Why would you carry all this when you’re just going to babysit? The bird stayed around Saturday and Sunday. and as Monday dawned I told my wife we’re taking a side trip to look for the bird. With a bird like this there were going to be plenty of birders that would take pity on me.
When we stopped in Bowling Green to grab some coffee I checked Facebook again, and sure enough the bird was still there. It took another 2 hours to get to Killdeer Plains because everything was pretty much 2 lane roads all the way there.
I found a lady who felt sorry for me and let me look through her scope, and there it was. Life Bird #463
Sorry, no pictures.
Despite being out of commission with my broken ankle, I’m on the road to a full recovery. I’m still under the care of my orthopedic doctor and I’m now wearing a walking boot instead of being in a cast and using a knee scooter. And it was the best I could have hoped for as my trip to Maine was upon me. And now that I can walk around easier than before, my focus turned towards the whale watching trip out of Bar Harbor with the possibility of some new life birds.
This area of the country is drop dead beautiful! It’s vistas like this every morning from the porch of the house we rented overlooking Penopscot Bay that says it all.
The drive to Bar harbor took about 90 minutes and when we arrived at the dock the boat was already packed with people. It was a cool sunny day and as we settled in for the ride out the Captain warned us about how choppy it was going to get the further out we went. Despite the water conditions and how choppy it might get, my concern was my footing and balance while wearing my walking boot. And as it turned out getting any photograph of the birds proved to be very difficult.
My main concern was finding and identifying the birds, and getting any photo was the last. Our destination on this trip was Mt. Desert Rock and as we cruised towards this lonely island I scanned constantly for birds while holding on for dear life with one hand. And when I did spot a bird it was normally gone by the time i got my camera up.
Mt. Desert Rock
On the way towards My. Desert Rock I was able to check off Sooty Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Atlantic Puffin, Northern Fulmer, and Black Gallinule. As we circled the island I was able to locate a juvenile Great Cormorant. Large flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes dodged in front of the boat and Great Black-backed, Herring and Laughing Gulls soared overhead.
So I picked up 6 new species for my life list, which far exceeded my expectations. My list now stands at 462, and with my trip to Arizona next summer I should be able to break that 500 mark.
Ohio State University has a airport northwest of downtown Columbus close to the city of Dublin. Adjacent to the airport, and owned by the university, sits the Ohio State Equine Center. For the past several years Upland Sandpipers have called this home and raised their chicks in the grassy pastures. For myself this isn’t a life bird to add to my list. That moment came years ago during the spring migration close to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. It was a distant view even through my spotting scope as it foraged in a unplowed field. I did take a very poor quality photo, but the heat shimmer really distorted the final outcome.
So this last Monday Off I drove for the 90 minute drive to see if I could maybe get a better view and hopefully a decent photograph.
After arriving it took me about 20 to 30 minutes to locate not just one, but both Upland Sandpipers perched on top of the wooden fence posts. By this time the sun was full in the sky and the heat shimmer started. I moved around several times trying to get in a good location for any kind of photograph. However the birds really kept their distance, and after getting home and going over what pictures I had of them, this was probably the best one.
I’ve spent the last day and a half birding up along Lake Erie for the first time in 2 years. If you remember last year I camped in Daniel Boone national Forest at Red River Gorge checking out some of the breeding warblers in the area. Well this year I returned to Lake Erie, but for only a very short time. All told I probably spent a total of 14 hours birding. But in those 14 hours I either heard or saw a total of 85 birds with 24 of those being warblers, which I think is pretty respectable for the time allotted.
- Wilson’s warbler
- Yellow warbler
- Yellow-rumped warbler
- Blue-winged Warbler
- Common Yellowthroat
- Black-throated Green Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler
- Blackburnian Warbler
- Bay-breasted Warbler
- Canada Warbler
- American Redstart
- Mourning Warbler
- Cape May Warbler
- Nashville Warbler
- Tennessee Warbler
- Northern Parula
- Louisiana Waterthrush
- Prothonotary Warbler
- Magnolia Warbler
- Chestnut-sided Warbler
- Palm Warbler
- Black & White warbler
- Blackpoll Warbler
This trip I did come across a few surprise birds. At a new Toledo Metropark called Howard Marsh, for the second year in a row 2 Black-necked Stilts have taken up residence.
And at the same park I counted 3 Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
Granted these are a couple of great birds for this part of the country. And as much as i enjoyed watching them, the real surprise came the morning i was leaving to go home. I stopped one more time at Howard Marsh to see if the Black-necked Stilts were any closer for some better pictures, which they weren’t, so I drove off and decided at the last minute to check out Metzger Marsh, which is right next door.
I was pulling out my camera to take a shot of a Common Gallinule when I noticed a small bird in the tall grass right next to the road. A Least Bittern. In the past I’ve only had fleeting glimpses of these reclusive birds, however this time was different.