State Parks Indiana

Lemons to Lemonade – November 27, 2017

So today we decided to go hiking at Shades State Park. Our first stop was the post office. SAC had a huge Etsy mailing for her Redhead Paper shop that needed to go out today. Without going into a long explanation, it took forever and it cost more to mail than she had envisioned and her business card wouldn’t work there! Oh, well. Live and learn.

Second stop was grabbing a lunch to go. SAC forgot to order a large iced tea. No biggie. We had water.

Finally got to Shades. Closed due to deer reduction hunting. “But you can go to Turkey Run.”

No!

Turkey Run is beautiful and all that, but we don’t go there unless it is out of season. It’s way too crowded otherwise. We decided to go somewhere else, but Turkey Run was on the way, so we stopped in to use the facilities. It turned out the parking lot wasn’t very crowded at all, so SAC suggested we hike to Camel’s Back.

It was another beautiful day – almost 60 degrees and sunny. We walked out Trail 10 and back Trail 3. We always try to stop and take a deep breath to clear away all our troubles and concentrate on the beauty of Creation.

What a beautiful late fall day! Just enjoying the crunching leaves – no sneaking up on birds right now!!!

We saw the usual goldfinch and titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. We also saw both black vultures and a turkey vulture.

Woodpeckers were the birds of the day – Red-Bellied, Hairy, and lots of Red-Headed woodpeckers. We were stumped for a while on a noise coming from all around us. I had almost decided it was a blue jay or squirrel, but it was multiple Red-Headed Woodpeckers – more than I had seen and heard in a long time.2017-11-27 14.30.42

We peeled off our long-sleeved shirts and were walking in t-shirts until we got to the canyon part of the trail. Just an FYI – don’t hike Trail 3 backwards! It’s very awkward to go down the narrow steps carved out of the canyon walls!

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It’s amazing how much the temperature can vary in the ravines at Turkey Run and Shades. The carved handholds along the rock cliffs in Rocky Hollow made me wish I had gloves on and the water in the creek that I washed my muddy hands in was frigid! We could even see our breath!

As we drove back by a McDonald’s, we ordered an ice cream cone and a mocha frappe. We got the ice cream in a bowl with the cone on top and a chocolate chip something or other instead.

All in all, it was a gorgeous day where we were able to make lemonade out of all the lemons the day had tried to shove our way!

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#OptOutside or Hike Friday

Shades State Park- This is how I enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving!!!

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Super Snake Sighting

In recent years we’ve learned about a type of snake that is proving more common than we expected–the Northern Brown Snake, or DeKay’s Snake. This year alone we’ve seen at least five of them on our property.

SAC and I were hiking at Prophetstown a couple of weeks ago and were fortunate (and fast) enough to spot a tiny DeKay’s Snake!

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It’s also been a good year for Big Bluestem in Indiana — look how tall that is!

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Long-Eared Owls

Sunday, February 5, 2017 – There had been multiple emails on the Indiana birding list serve about the Long-eared Owls at Prophetstown State Park. We had been seeing them for almost 2 weeks before we were able to make time in our schedule. We had pretty good directions on where to find them in the park (unlike the last time one was seen there.)

It was a gorgeous day 46 degrees and sunny, but pretty windy out on the prairie. We started on trail 1 towards the site and there was no mistaking where the bird was – birders and their spotting scopes or determined hikers with binoculars.

Within seconds of coming to the site, we were helped to locate the birds and quickly saw 3 of them!!! Yay – LIFE BIRDS!

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SAC was able to take pretty good photos of them although the saplings in the fen were good camouflage.

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She took pictures with our DSLR and she also used her iPhone and Bluetooth shutter release to digiscope some pretty good photos.  I’m not a good judge of distance, but they were maybe 20 feet off the trail. We kept a quiet demeanor and didn’t stay very long so as not to disturb them. I don’t know that they would have been disturbed. They have been in the same location for 2 weeks, at least, and haven’t seemed to mind their paparazzi!

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We decided it was such a beautiful day and we had been working hard all weekend on cleaning and decluttering the house, so we walked on towards the pond. We saw northern shovelers, mallards, and American tree sparrows. Still present were 12 mute swans, 2 of which were juveniles.

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We walked on to see if Trail 3 was inundated by the water like it was on our last trip, but it was now open. We didn’t have time to take that, so we headed back to our parking lot via the paved, multi-use trail. We heard a ruckus towards the Wabash River – a murder of many crows probably was protesting an eagle although I didn’t get a look at it. SAC thought she may have seen it, but wasn’t sure.

We had a great day and were able to add to our life list!

 

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One of SAC’s digiscoped photos

 

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End of year wrap up – Good bye 2016

Our Indiana Bicentennial Year has ended as has the Centennial of the State Park and National park systems.

We logged a total of 147 birds, 93 of which were in the State Parks and Reservoirs.

We visited all 24 state parks, 8 lakes and state recreation areas, all 3 national sites (seashore, memorial and national park).

We visited all 92 counties and several state historic sites.

I logged 68.81 hiking miles. ROC logged 27.16 hiking miles. SAC logged 55.96 hiking miles.

I logged 45.28 Advanced Indiana Master Naturalist volunteer hours and 14.65 IMN learning hours.

Highlights: Whooping Cranes, Pacific Loon, Blackburnian Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Mississippe Kite, Wilson’s Snipe, Smith’s Longspur and Great Horned Owl on the nest.

We enjoyed seeing the state, driving the backroads and visiting the many beautiful small towns and county seats and visiting all the sites. Weather quite often seemed against us, but welcome to Indiana! We haven’t added up the miles driven, or the dollars spent. That may be added at a later date!

Lesson to be learned – Get out and visit your home state. You never know what’s around the bend!

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First Hike of 2017 – Shades State Park

Even though rain was forecast for January 2, SAC and I met up with a coworker at Shades State Park this morning. He has a knowledge of orchids and was showing us some places that they grow in Shades and Pine Hills. After walking around the top of Trail 1, we decided to hike trail 10 over to Pine Hills.

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Now, I had spent the most part of the week between Christmas and New Year’s eating cookies and reading cozy mysteries, so not in the best of shape. SAC had spent several days laying around with a migraine and some kind of bug. (Not that we were in the best of shape anyway, since it had been several weeks since our last hike!)

Let’s just say, the steps down to the backbones KILLED us! Calves and thighs and oh my! We were both so out of shape that walking up and down stairs at home and work the following day were very painful. Add to that the grace that I was not born with that allowed me to slip down a muddy creek bank and land hard with my already sore shoulder still hanging on to a sapling and you have a very sore old woman. (At least I feel old this week!)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time hiking at our favorite place. Photos are never enough to give the full experience. The sights and smells of the mostly quiet forest calmed our souls and erased the headaches that we had when we arrived.

We were able to learn about several orchid species and can’t wait to locate them during bloom time.

Birds were scarce, but the regulars were there: Nuthatch, chickadees, blue jays, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers, crow, geese and possible ovenbird. First time we haven’t seen an eagle here in a long time, though.

Great time at our favorite place! Go out and hike, no matter the weather.

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North-Central State Parks – October 30

We made a LONG one-day trip out of visiting Mississinewa Lake, Salamonie Lake and Ouabache State Park on October 30, 2016. We enjoyed our trip and ended up driving a total of 320 miles.

At Miami SRA (at Mississinewa) we saw several regular species including about 15 turkey vultures and 100 ring-billed gulls.

At Peoria SRA (also Mississinewa) we saw a Herring Gull – a new one for the IBBBY list!

The Interpretive Center was open at Salamonie – Amazing!!! And what a fantastic center it was. We hiked the Turkey Trot Nature Trail behind the Center.

At the Tailwaters, we enjoyed watching the antics of 2 juvenile bald eagles and 2 adults. The juveniles were a second/third year and a first year. We may have seen 5–2 of the juvies flying were too white to be first years.

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After a yummy late lunch at the Berg Ale Haus, Huntington, we drove on to Ouabache State Park and hiked around the bison enclosure. We were able to see Cindy, the new bicentennial bison baby – first female born there.

SAC took a bit of video of Cindy and an adult bison eating.

 

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Spring Mill State Park and Patoka Lake – September 24-26, 2016

September 24

Our State Park weekend started by picking SAC up at her work and driving to Franklin Indiana where we saw Hoosiers on the big screen at the Historic Artcraft Theatre! Since my father was in Hoosiers as an extra and it was filmed in my hometown of New Richmond, I love this movie. The chance to see it again on the big screen was too good to pass up. We spent the night in Franklin.
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My dad with Gene Hackman

September 25 – Spring Mill

We drove on down to Spring Mill in the morning hoping to get there in time for a naturalist-led hike. We don’t get to take part in too many of these any more as the offerings are few and far between. We made it in time and had a great hike with Wyatt the naturalist on the trail to Donelson Cave. He talked about the moisture gradient from the
top of the hill to the creek and the plant-life associated with the difference in moisture.
We saw several birds and 3 brown water snakes basking in the sunshine while lying in the riprap which was stabilizing the creek bank. It was refreshing to talk to an enthusiastic naturalist! Great job Wyatt!
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After lunch in Mitchell, we went to the Gus Grissom Museum and SAC and I walked trail 6. We then went to the Nature Center and enjoyed looking at the exhibits. We were able to attend another Naturalist led function – a turtle race between red-eared slider, box turtle and painted turtles. The naturalist first discussed the different species of turtles entered in the race. I learned that turtles need sunlight for their shells to grow. Their body continues to grow, but unless they get sunlight, they will outgrow their shells. She also shared that box turtles can live to be 100 and red-eared sliders to 3o years old. She also discussed predators of the turtle and what the 3 species of turtles eat.
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SAC and I took the Twin Cave boat ride and then hiked around the lake on Trail 5 while Roger read in the inn. We saw 1 new IBBBY State Park bird – Yellow Throated Vireo.
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We had supper at the inn and then retired for the evening.
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September 26 – Patoka Lake

Driving on some Indiana Historic Pathways in the rain, we drove through French Lick and West Baden Springs and then on to Patoka Lake. The sun came out briefly while we were driving, but it was mostly cool and rainy. We went to the Nature Center in the Newton-Stewart SRA, but of course, it is closed on Mondays! We saw a bald eagle flying over the lake at the beach and saw some deer along the way. They have some really nice bike trails here.
We saw 2 great egrets at the South Lick Fork Ramp. Another new IBBBY bird.
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We drove to the Tulip Trestle the largest train trestle in the US and 3rd largest in the world. There is a nice little park and information kiosk there and an adorable free library shaped like a small train engine.
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We stopped at the newly opened Goose Pond Visitor’s Center and then drove to Brazil and picked up (better late than never) Indiana Byways Passport at Lynn’s Pharmacy. ROC got a cherry milkshake and SAC and I had pretzels and then drove on home.
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We added:
  • 510 miles traveled.
  • 2 new birds: Yellow Throated Vireo & Great Egret
  • 2 IMN volunteer hours
  • 45 minutes IMN education hours
  • 2 DNR sites
Two more weekends should finish our quest for our DNR sites!
Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park – September 5, 2016

We ran down to Ft. Harrison for a quick hike Labor Day hike. We were able to get there by 11:30 and it wasn’t horribly busy. SAC and I hiked Fall Creek Trail. It was a 3.07-mile hike and I picked up 1.9 volunteer hours of trash pickup.

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While we were hiking, a blimp flew right over us. It was surprising how loud it was!

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This is a really nice park and there wasn’t as much litter as I would expect at an urban, well-used park. I am always surprised at the fact that you forget you’re in a big city, the park feels so secluded, even on Labor Day.

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We saw one new IBBBY bird:

  • Yellow Bellied Flycatcher

By the time we left, the park entrance had cars backed up quite some way. Glad we were going out!

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Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Shades State Park – August 22, 2016

It has been a hot, humid, stormy summer and it has been hard to be motivated to be outside any more than needs be. I have had to deal with tall, wet grass to cut and garden to weed and produce to pick and process.

That being said, we hadn’t been to Shades since June and set out to remedy that on Monday, August 22nd. We decided to take some easy trails as we had a late start – 1:30 – due to early appointments and errands.

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We hiked trail 9, trail 6, and, as is our habit on every visit here, the top of trail 1. It was actually about 75 degrees and sunny today.

We saw two new birds to add to our IBBY list:

  • Black & White Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler

It was a good day, and as always when we hike at Shades, a rejuvenation of our spirits. I added 2 hours to my IMN volunteer time by picking up litter as I always do at State Parks.

Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, Montgomery County, Shades State Park | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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