Friday, May 08, 2015

Birding the Mt.

Barred Owl through the leaves
After a winter of inactivity, I'm really getting back into birding again this spring. A trip to Mt. St. Francis, across the river in southern Indiana, was led by my friend Del, who has telescopic eyeballs. He can see things without binoculars that I can't find with them, so it's always a good decision to go out on trips he leads.

There were two amazing things this morning. First, we found a Barred Owl perched in a low tree about 10 a.m. Didn't hear him, but Del saw him swoop through the trees and land here. Cool!
May Apples
Part of Mt. St. Francis is manicured retreat center. Part of it is open fields and a lake, while the third part is wooded hills going up and down to the creeks. I'm marking May 6 as the day when ALL the may apples were blooming at once! I've never seen so many of those white blossoms nodding beneath their green umbrellas at one time!
Acadian Flycatcher
Del heard an Acadian Flycatcher calling  pizza, and we finally saw him for a second between forays out and back for the plentiful insects in the creek bottom. My first photo of the elusive bird.
Summer Tanager
You wouldn't think that bright red birds would be so hard to see in the green forest, would you? I never did find the Scarlet Tanager, although I heard him singing. Finally located his cousin, the Summer Tanager, peering at us behind the branches. I wonder if the birds ever go "peopling" when they see a group of two-legged creatures with black things in front of their faces. It's pretty easy, all you have to do is sing, and they stop walking and talking to look for you.
Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Towhee
Baltimore Orioles are very plentiful this spring, and of course, the Towhees invited us all to "drink your tea." One of my favorite calls!
Eastern Kingbird
This Eastern Kingbird perched at the tip of a pine bough over the lake in between insect catching flights.
Carolina Chickadee hatchlings
Del checked some of the nest boxes as we walked by. Most seemed to be inhabited by Chickadees and Tree Swallows, although we did find one pair of Bluebirds. Their numbers are way down this year after two very long cold winters. Even those these tiny birds seem to have blue on their wings, look at the nest itself. Chickadees build on a base of moss, lining their nest with what appears to be fur.
Box Turtle
We had to be careful not to step on the little brown hop toads that sprang out beneath our feet everywhere. A box turtle waited in the grass for us to pass by.
Prairie Trillium - t. recurvatum
Southern Indiana is the only place around here where I've found the Prairie Trillium, t. recurvatum. I've never seen them at all in Kentucky. See the stems on the leaves? And the petals curve back over the anthers instead of opening up to give the pollinators a good look. Maybe they are just shy...
Pawpaw blossom
The pawpaw is an understory tree, never getting very tall, so it's easy to see their maroon bells hanging down when they bloom. When the fruit ripens you have to hurry if you want some before all the animals get them. Everything loves pawpaws!

Now that I'm trying to do eBird, I asked Del to send me the list for the mornings walk, and it totaled 55 species! Of course, I didn't actually see all of them myself, but I had the excitement of the quest. According to eBird, my life list is now 78 birds, although my spreadsheet for the last 8 years is almost 380. I think that's one reason why I was so slow to use eBird. It didn't allow me to put in my actual life list. Next Saturday Beckham Bird Club will have a booth at Bernheim Forest's Bloomfest, and I've got all sorts of ideas for a cool display to interest new people in birding. But I also have to help with the 25th Anniversary Open House at Raptor Rehab that day. Busy, busy, busy!

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