Eagle Creek Park – December 4

We went on a guided bird hike at Eagle Creek Park Sunday Morning at 9:00 am. This is a weekly hike for the Audubon group. We walked on the North loop about 2.84 miles and 2 hours.

We had a good time and learned how to differentiate between a Bonaparte Gull from the Ring-Billed Gull. We saw three Bonaparte gulls – a new bird for us.


We saw a barred owl roosting along one of the roads in the park.


After a snack in the Ornithology Center, we went on to Dandy Trail at a pull off and saw a lifer Pacific Loon, along with a Horned Grebe and a Common Loon. We were glad we had more experienced birders with spotting scopes there, or we wouldn’t have been sure about that ID.Three new species to add to our IBBBY list.


This is a loon. Really. We swear. 😀

This is a fantastic urban park in the 13th largest city in the US. The Ornithology Center is wonderful and the volunteers are helpful and amazing.

We had a tragic end to our birding, though, as SAC accidentally hit the lens release while we were looking for the loons. She thought it didn’t release, and found out four steps later–when the lens hit the asphalt–that it had! We ended up having to send the lens away to have it repaired.


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Starke County and Jasper-Pulaski

Starke County and Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area – November 27, 2016

Since ROC decided we hadn’t been in Starke County, we decided a trip to Starke County and Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area was in order!

We saw a rough-legged hawk in Starke County and several hundred if not a thousand Sandhill Cranes at the viewing platform at Jasper-Pulaski. The count was considerably down from other times as the weather has been unseasonably warm and the fall-like weather hanging on later than usual.


We saw about 22 deer in the field to the southwest of the viewing platform–taking advantage of the protected, no-hunting area of the wildlife area during the hunting season. I’m pretty sure we saw them there the last time we were here in the fall!
We saw 2 eagles while we were there also.


Finally, the last of the 92 counties visited today!

Another 2016 Bicentennial of State Goal achieved!


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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.


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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Final Indiana State Park Visits

Trine, Chain O’ Lakes, Pokagon–November 13, 2016

We left early Saturday morning, November 12 for Fort Wayne. Stephanie had an author fair to attend at the Allen County Public Library. She was a speaker on the panel in addition to having her books in a booth. We had supper at Cheddars with a friend and stayed at the Quality Inn in Fort Wayne.

Let’s back up to Friday evening, when we had a voice mail on our phone informing us that our reservations for Sunday night at the Potawatomi Inn in Pokagon would not be honored. This was due to the deer hunt scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Since we weren’t hunters, we weren’t even allowed to stay at the Inn overnight, even though there was no mention of it when we made the reservations two weeks earlier. We would have to find alternate accommodations. I had to struggle to find mention of which parks were taking part in the deer reduction hunting as the DNR website DID NOT HAVE IT LISTED!

Very disappointed and angry about this, we only did a drive through of Chain O’Lakes, Pokagon and Trine, Marsh Lake, stopping only to get the SPRGO numbers, and to say we were in those parks in 2016.

Our visiting all the State Parks in the centennial year of the State Parks goal: Achieved.

We made sure to get all the counties in that area and then, since we didn’t have reservations for that night, ROC decided we were going to get the counties in the southeast part of the state that we had left to get.


We headed south, getting various counties and driving by Levi Coffin House in Fountain City. After watching the super moon rise Sunday evening, we spent the night at the Comfort Inn in Richmond. We continued from Richmond towards Lawrenceburg and aurora along the Ohio River through Madison County then up I-65 to home.

We traveled 825 miles and got all the counties, or so we thought. ROC later decided we had not been in Starke County earlier in the year.


ROC and SAC on the river walk in Lawrenceburg

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DePauw Nature Park – October 10, 2016

We hiked at DePauw Nature Park before we went to nephew Patrick’s football game (Franklin vs. DePauw). We didn’t see any new birds but had a great hike!

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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.

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!
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.
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.
We had supper at the inn and then retired for the evening.

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.
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.
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.
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.


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


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.


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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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.


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

Prophetstown State Park – August 1, 2016

After a very busy morning of garden and produce fixing, we took off for Prophetstown to get some grassland species. I had thought to just have a casual hike and drive, but SAC had other ideas. Mind you, it was 85 degrees out and very humid and sunny. On the prairie! I think she was trying to do me in!


We hiked part of trail 1 but mostly trail 2. I do love this prairie park. And it seems to be a constantly evolving park. We had last been here the end of March and in that time, the entrance to the park has changed completely. Also a new bike trail is being added and an accessible trail to the overlook. It is going to be really nice when those new features are completed.


It was a great walk even in the heat. Should we hike here in these conditions again, we’ll carry twice as much water! I was down to a sip in my bottle although SAC had a little more. We did avail ourselves of the bounty of the prairie in the form of ripe, wild blackberries. I’m sure that is what enabled me to make it back to the vehicle!


We saw 5 new State park species for the IBBY:

  • Prairie Warbler
  • Dickcissel
  • Sedge Wren
  • Green Heron
  • Common Yellowthroat



As we neared the first picnic shelter and restroom, I took off my hat, binoculars, backpack and glasses and put my head under the water fountain! I pulled out a bandana and ran water under it and refilled my water bottle. SAC followed suit. Back on the trail to the vehicle, we were in much better shape and made it to the car and lunch!

I picked up 3 hours of IMN volunteer hours picking up trash.

Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, Hiking, Prophetstown State Park, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zabulon Skipper

The other day is was driving home for school when I looked down and saw an insect on my leg. Since it was just a butterfly, I didn’t panic.


(I once looked down on my lap while hemmed-in during five o’clock traffic and saw an immense spider there. SAC is an arachnophobe and really I did not want a big squashed spider with all its guts on my khaki pants as we had several stops to make that day. Took some finagling but I was finally able to pull over into a parking area to rid myself of it.)

Anyway, back to the butterfly… it was a tiny thing and didn’t move much. It seemed to align itself north-south for the most part as I made the twists and turns to my house. Not sure if this was my imagination. It was probably close to 90 outside, so I imagine the vehicle was much hotter as it had been sitting in the sun all day.


I stopped in a church parking lot that is on my way home and took some quick pictures of it with my phone. When I got home and turned the vehicle off and opened the door, the butterfly flew onto the window ledge.



I was able to snap a few closer photos of it and then placed a penny next to it to show size.


I also finagled a picture of it on my finger. That’s hard to do with only two hands–it turned out blurry, so I’m not posting it!

I thought I had it identified as a Zabulon Skipper, and just a day or so later I saw this blog post, which confirmed it.

Categories: Butterflies, Insects | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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