Parke County

Raccoon Lake/Cecil M. Harden – May 15, 2016

We decided to take a quick trip to Raccoon Lake and although we come here occasionally, we’ve only hiked a few times.

Racoon Lake 100 years

We hiked trail 5. It is not adequately marked and we were “bewildered” several times as to where the trail actually went. This is another beef of ours with the Indiana State Park system. Even if there is not enough money to put up wooden signs, at least put out blazes or colored ribbons to mark the trail! We saw a total of 18 species with three new IBBY birds. ROC attracted his first tick of the season. Yuck!

We also hiked the Archery Trail which was fun to do. It is interesting and would be fun to do archery at the various stations along the way.

New IBBY Species:
Eastern Kingbird
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Wood Pewee

Racoon Lake shelter

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Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, Hiking, Parke County | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bicentennial Birding – February 6

Zoomed in Snowy owlWe went on a quest to find the Snowy Owl that had been seen all week in White County north of Brookston. Since that area is old home place to my husband, he looked at the coordinates listed and drove us right to it. It was right on the side of the road, so we kept our distance and took pictures with both the camera and IPhone “digiscoped” with the binoculars. When we were finished viewing it, we turned around in the road and went back the way we had come, so we wouldn’t disturb it.

Birds Seen in White County:

  1. Snowy Owl
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Horned Lark
  4. Canada Geese
  5. American Crow

We drove on up to Kankakee Sands as there had been short eared owls spotted there during the week. We tried this last year on our way back for our First Day Hike at the Indiana Dunes State Park (see previous post). And like our try last year, we failed to find the short ears. Someone called the cops on the 10 or so cars scattered around the preserve, complaining of cars blocking the road. So we left Newton County and spent our money on supper in Benton County!

Zoomed out Snowy owl

Birds seen at Kankakee Sands:

  1. Rough-legged Hawk
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Northern Harrier
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Red-winged Blackbird (First of Year)
  6. Sandhill Cranes

Z Northern Harrier

Bicentennial Birding – February 7

We went to Turkey Run State Park today. Beautiful mostly sunny and about 50 degrees. On our way there, we saw:

  1. Turkey Vulture (First of Year in Darlington, Montgomery County) (see previous post).

Birds Seen at Turkey Run:

  1. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  2. Red-headed Woodpecker
  3. Downy Woodpecker
  4. White-breasted Nuthatch
  5. American Goldfinch
  6. House Sparrow
  7. Tufted Titmouse
  8. Carolina Chickadee
  9. Dark-eyed Junco
  10. Northern Cardinal
  11. Blue Jay
  12. Bald Eagle
  13. Canada Geese
  14. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  15. American Crow

And on our annual pilgrimage to find Skunk Cabbage blooming!!!! (see previous post). Yay! Skunk Cabbage! Between the Vultures and the red- winged blackbird returning and the skunk cabbage blooming, we have hope for Spring soon!

On our way home from Turkey Run, we drove past Lye Creek Burn. We have never seen the Lapland Longspurs, but what we did see made us VERY happy!

Burn

Birds Seen at Lye Creek Burn:

  1. Northern Harrier
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mallard
  4. Greater White-Fronted Goose
  5. Northern Pintail
  6. Redhead
  7. Ross’s Goose

And the local eagle nest along Sugar Creek has an adult sitting on the nest!

 

Categories: Birding, First Of Year, Life Birds, Montgomery County, Parke County, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Women’s Wellness Weekend

April 12, 2015 – Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park

Once again this year another Indiana Master Naturalist and I volunteered at the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park. We led two wildflower hikes – one on Saturday morning and one Sunday morning. We also presented the Native Edible and Medicinal Plants workshop. Jackie is a professional photographer and she presented the Nature Photography workshop.

After a few technical snafus, our workshops went well. We had good groups and very positive feedback.

I was surprised at the different wildflowers from when my daughter and I hiked on Monday! We only saw one Salt and Pepper (Harbinger of Spring) in bloom as opposed to hundreds or thousands!

Wildflowers Seen over the two hikes:

  1. Cut-leaf Toothwort
  2. Trout Lily
  3. Bloodroot
  4. Spring Beauties
  5. Dutchman’s Breeches
  6. Squirrel Corn
  7. False Rue Anemone
  8. Purple Violets
  9. Toadshade AKA Sessile Trillium
  10. Phlox –
  11. Purple Trillium
  12. Purple Cress -not yet in flower
  13. Virginia Blue Bell
  14. Water leaf – not yet in flower
  15. Wild Ginger
  16. Salt & Pepper (1 plant)
  17. Bell flower
  18. Hepatica
  19. Nodding Trillium – not yet in flower
  20. Trillium species – not yet in flower
  21. May apple – bud just coming on

Birds Seen:

  1. Pileated Woodpeckers (2)
  2. Blue Jay
  3. Cardinal
  4. Tufted Titmouse
  5. Chickadee
  6. Phoebe
  7. Canada Geese
  8. Red Tailed Hawk – light morph
  9. White Breasted Nuthatch
Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spring Ephemerals

Monday was an impromptu hike at Turkey Run State Park. I originally was going to hike down from the Lusk Home and over the Narrows Covered Bridge and onto Trail 2 like I usually do to see Skunk Cabbage blooming.

This time we decided to walk Trail 1 from the Nature Center and back on Trail 2 for an absolutely wonderful hike.

As usual I picked up litter along the way.

I was trying out a new macro lens for my iPhone–a Christmas gift from hubby and daughter this Christmas. It’s an olloclip 3-in-One Photo Lens.

I used to think “Salt and Pepper” or Harbinger-of-Spring was hard to find, but it is everywhere. I saw it Saturday at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum and it was along the path from the Turkey Run Inn and along our route on Trails 1 & 2.

We saw several early flowers and learned a new one.

  • Dutchman’s Breeches
  • Salt and Pepper/Harbinger-of-Spring
  • Spring Beauty
  • Skunk Cabbage
  • Purple Cress
  • Spicebush (in bloom!)

Birds we saw on the hike:

  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Chickadee
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Robin
  • Kingfisher
  • Nuthatch
  • Crows
  • Blue Jays
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Canada Geese
  • Phoebe

We also saw two juvenile bald eagles sitting in a tree near Lake Waveland on our way down.

Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, Spring, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eagles In Flight Weekend at Turkey Run State Park

Icicles on Sugar CreekSaturday morning, day 2 of Eagles in Flight Weekend, we set off for Turkey Run as I volunteered to sit for a couple of hours at the Event Table for the Friends of Turkey Run and Shades State Park Organization who sponsors the weekend. It was a snowy day; probably an inch had fallen by the time we left home at 7 AM. After my shift, daughter and I sat in on Alan Bruner’s workshop on Keys to Identification of Common Raptors in the Turkey Run Area. For those who don’t know Alan. He is involved with the Indiana Audubon Society and a birder extraordinaire!

2013 First Skunk Cabbage

We then left the main part of the park and drove to the Lusk Home/NarrowsCovered Bridge on an annual pilgrimage on Trail 1 to a couple of places where a spring causes boggy areas. We always check here for our first sighting of skunk cabbage blooming. This tradition dates back to my childhood forays to this area with my dad in late winter or very early spring.

We had a hard time spotting the bloom, as usual, but finally found one blooming. This is the earliest we have actually looked for the plant, but did so because of a blogpost I read by Jim McCormac, an Ohio naturalist   . Our previous dates were: 2/20/13; 3/19/11; 3/20/10.  (Note: this doesn’t mean we saw the bloom earlier this year, just that we searched for it earlier this year!)

Carolina WrenOn Trail 1, we saw:

  • Carolina Wren
  • Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker

Our species list on our way home by way of Clinton Falls and Rockville were:

  • American Kestrel- 6
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 7
  • American Crows
  • Turkey Vultures
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
  • Bald Eagle

At the Rock River Landing in Crawfordsville, we saw an Adult Bald Eagle close by the nest.

Rock River Landing Eagle

Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Midwinter Eagle Census at West Union Bridge

DSC_0001Who in their right mind would get up at 5:30 on a January Saturday? We did! Fortunately it wasn’t like previous West Union Bridge trips as it was mid 50s rather than 20 and snowy! We were really blessed when we arrived at the bridge to find another vehicle there and it was DNR bird Biologist Amy Kearns. She was there to take the midwinter eagle census for the DNR. She seemed glad for extra pairs of eyes. The purpose of the census is to get an idea of how many eagles are overwintering in Indiana. She was counting from 7 to 9 AM.

DSC_0036One year we saw more than 50 eagles, and the next we saw fewer than 20, so we weren’t sure what to expect. The flight began slowly, with one or two birds flying over at a time. After the first half hour or so, there was a slight lull and we saw a mature bald eagle (one of the few) flying back upriver. A few minutes later, we had another increase.

In between eagles, we also observed or heard several robins, bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, a tufted titmouse, nuthatches, Carolina wrens, and several red-winged blackbirds back for the winter! (As a side note, later that day, we saw seven turkey vultures in a group, and then observed many more flying singly or in smaller groups. The birds must think the worst of winter is past.)

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As we neared 9 AM another vehicle drove up to the bridge. It was a couple from Fort Wayne who had come hoping to see eagles. We weren’t sure if they would get the chance, as the flight of eagles had slowed to a trickle. As we stood and talked, however, another bald eagle flew over, and it was a mature one. We talked for a few more minutes, exchanging email addresses and thanking Amy for sharing her expertise with us. A few minutes after 9, when we probably would already have been gone without having other people around, we got a special treat–a fully mature golden eagle flew overhead! It was a lifelister for both of us, so we spent more time looking at it through binoculars than we did photographing.DSC_0063

After we left West Union, we paid visits to two of the area eagle nests. On our way, we saw a lone mature bald eagle flying along a treeline. When we arrived at Baird’s Sugar Shack, we saw that the nest near the sugar camp had two adult eagles nearby, watching over it. The nest near Clinton Falls only had one adult watching, but it looks like the breeding pairs are already staking out their territory and getting ready to start their families.

All in all, it was a great day! At the bridge we saw 59 bald eagles and 1 golden eagle. Then we saw 4 additional adult bald eagles.

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Categories: Birding, Life Birds, Parke County, Putnam County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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