Last week I was able to squeeze in an couple of hours of birding at Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana. Goose pond is a huge wetland that was recently established by re-claiming and flooding vast tracts of farmland. I’ve been making regular visits to the area from two years now and am thrilled at the variety of birds that I am bale to see.
My last trip to Goose Pond, in March, was able to watch a pair of whooping cranes for nearly and hour. I also observed huge rafts of migrating ducks. On that trip I didn’t pack my scope. I was working at an art fair and didn’t expect to have any time on the pond.
I returned last week with my scope, but left my camera behind. (I left early and didn’t turn the lights on so as to wake my wife.) I could only get a couplle of long shots with my phone.
My target bird for this trip was the American White Pelican. The spring flocks have been growing steadily at the pond and I wanted to get another look at these amazing and huge birds. On my first stop I saw little but coots. I took a few minutes to talk to a bird savvy fisherman and he pointed out flock of the pelican reeling in the distance. I drove in that direction, crested a hill and was thrilled to see between 200-300 pelican flying, swimming and going about their daily business. The wind was screeming into my face, off the pond, so I didn’t stay too long. I did not two immature bald eagles within the pelican flocks. I presume they benefit from the pelicans’ group fishing tactics.
Upon leaving leaving three bobwhite quail crossed the road in front of me. These birds, now seldom seen, were an important part of my walks in the woods as a kid. They looked like miniature footballs with wings. Another bird from earlier days, the eastern meadowlark, was spotted on roadsigns and fence posts.
I circles around the other side of the area–passing the site where we watched the whooping cranes a month before– and parked on a short rise above two ponds filled with ducks. There I was able to spend some time, protected from the worst of the wind, and observe ducks. There was waterfowls that I’ve spent time watching before–lesser scaup, mallards, coots, golden-eye and Canada geese — but there were some new to me.
My field guide was back home with my camera so I was limited to using iBird on my iPhone. I found this very frustrating and am convinced that while I appreciate iBird and its applications in the field it has limitations. I checked and rechecked all of the “duck” descriptions on iBird and coiuld find no matches to the birds that I was seeing.
The problem, of course, is that not all ducks have “duck” in their name. A mallard is a mallard, not a mallard duck. In a print field guide related birds are listed and illustrated together. It’s a simple matter to flip through the duck section and make visual comparisons.
My two mystery ducks were a gadwall and blue-winged teal–two ducks without duck names.
No pictures, but a great day and a few more birds to add to my “to-carve” list.