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Posts Tagged ‘linton’

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.

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I’ve written, a bit, about birding at Goose Pond, near Linton, Indiana, last weekend.  The highlight of the trip was spending malmost an our observing a pair og whooping cranes at sunset.  I set up my camera and tripod and shot close to 100 frames as these birds fed, badgered sandhill cranes and took flight into the sunset (actually they flew to the north at sunset).

I was with my friend and willow weaver, Greg Adams.  He shot quite a few photos, too.

He emailed me early Monday morning asking me to check the backgrounds of my shots.  He attached one of his photos.  In the background, little more than a white speck, there appeared to be a snowy owl perched in a tree.  He urged me to check mine and, sure enough, the same large white bird appeared in many of my shots.

Like any good birder I was filled with hope and skepticism.  Snowies live on the tundra where there are no trees.  While I’m sure they have perched in trees when this far south the one that I’ve seen spent its time on the ground, on fence posts and on rooftops.  The little dot of a snowy in my crane photo looked out of place.

I wanted it to be a snowy.  None had been reported on Goose Pond that weekend and there were hundred of birders pocking around every nook and cranny.  What a great story I could tell if I missed seeing one (watching other rare birds) but accidentally got its photo!

Using Picasa (Google’s photo editing software) I “enhanced” the image.  This is not an area of expertise for me. I cropped out the dot and enlarged it.  then I played with the contrast aadjustments until I could see more.

What I saw could not be a snowy owl (durnnit!) Though I cannot see any more of the bird in the “enhanced” photo, it’s pretty clear that it has very long legs. The white area does not taper to a head.  It remains wide and rounded — clearly (or unclearly) this is the breast of a large bird — probably a red-tailed hawk. Above and on the sides I can almost make out the outline of wings, head and mayb, even a bill.

Dissappointing, but no surprise. Ina sense we are lucky.  I would have hated to miss spotting a Snowy Owl and not knowing it.

The lesson learned is to avoid being so fixated on THE BIRD to miss the birds.  how many times have I  fixated on a wood duck only to miss the ivory-billed woodpecker at my back?  (Probably never — but you get it.)  Look around.  Look behind.  Look beyond.

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This weekend I participated in Marsh Madness, a birders’ gathering, at Goose Pond in Linton, Indiana. I joined a group of Hamilton County, Indiana, artist who support the mission and work of the Friends of Goose Pond.

We go as a group and spend an artists’ weekend at a friend’s lakefront cabin.

I never had a chance to bird last year. I was too busy and had no transportation (We are a one car family and I laft the car at home — a politically sound move.)

I didn’t expect to bird this year.

Greg had done some scouting and drove us into a great area peppered with small holes that were filled with ducks. The light was in our eyes, making is difficult to see, but we identified lesser scaup, common and hooded merganser, bufflehead, northern pintails, ringneck ducks, mallard and Canada Geese. Of in the adjacent grasses an Eastern Meadowlark called.

We drove back around to an area where whooping cranes had been reported. The grounds were covered with sandhills and whooping cranes are often associated with sandhill flocks.

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in North America. In the 1940s the entire population was reduced to less than 30 birds. There were two unsuccessful attempts to restore numbers before researchers were met with success. Numbers have increased to nearly 400 wild birds and continue to increase.

Find two of 400 birds is a successful day for any birder!

We observed this pair for over 40 minutes as it fed, interacted with neighboring sandhills and ignored neighboring sandhills. As the sun set, these birds took wing, circled the field twice and left. It was really a terrific experience!

Every bird has a story and I carve those stories.

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The fine folks at the Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Rehab Center at Hardy Lake in Southern Indiana are regulars at the Marsh Madness birding event in Linton, Indiana.  I took advantage of the birds on display to shoot reference photos.  I’ve included some here.  They are beautiful birds!

The collection on display included:

  • American Kestral
  • Redtailed Hawk
  • Bald Eagle
  • Screech Owl
  • Barred Owl
  • Great Horned Owl

The smaller birds were not left on their stands during the day and were difficult to shoot from my booth.  I may be able to share their photos after I’ve had time to process and crop them.

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I’ve just returned from two days at Marsh Madness, a birding show at Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana.  A group of artist friends including John Bundy, Bruce Neckar, Greg Adams and myself go each year to support the efforts to restore and maintain this fantastic wetland.

It’s been a long weekend and I’ve loads to report.  Greg Adams and I were able to spend about three hours (not nearly enough time) on this huge marsh and series of shallow ponds.  Most will have to wait.

For tonight I’m updating my list for the year (You can review my list here) and going to bed.  More images and stories tomorrow.

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Live From Marsh Madness

I’ve my work at the Marsh Madness birding shown in Linton, Indiana. Folk are reporting whopping cranes, sandhill cranes and hundreds of ducks on Goose Pond. Stop in and say hello!

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A contingent of Hamilton County nature artists are converging on tiny Linton, Indiana to support the good work of the Friends of Goose Pond and share our art and music with this great festival.  Goose Pond is an emerging birding destination and well worth the trip.

Learn more about the artists involved here.

Learn more about the festival here.

The Greene County Marsh Madness Festival will be a destination for visitors from across the Midwest by celebrating the county’s richly abundant and inherently beautiful natural areas, the centerpiece of which will be the spring migration of waterfowl and cranes to Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area.  Interpretive programs, educational material and artistic displays will inspire festival goers while instilling in them a strong conservation ethic.

Join us in Linton, Indiana, for the 3nd annual Greene County Marsh Madness Festival on March 2nd, 3rd & 4th to see thousands of waterfowl and sandhill cranes during their annual Spring migration through Greene County.

Events will include bus tours of the Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area, Silent Auction and Wine Tasting, Photography Workshop, Hardy Lake Bird Rehab Program with live birds of prey on display, Kids Activities, Speakers, Workshops, Arts & Crafts exhibit and sales.

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