Posts Tagged With: blue jay

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.

shades

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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Prophetstown State Park – March 29, 2016

SAC and I decided to run up to Prophetstown State Park today. We had a sunny start to the day with a temperature of 46 degrees.

A sign on a roadblock across one of the roads blocked off the “back” portion of the park for a controlled burn of the prairie. We decided to hike Trail 1 (I think it is) through the campground and then Trail 2 to the Fishing Pond and then back the same part of Trail 2 to Trail 1 to the Bluestem picnic area.

Prophetstown burn

Birds Seen:

  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Blue Jay
  • House Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Red-shouldered Hawk pair chasing Red-tailed Hawk pair in a dramatic aerial flight
  • Field Sparrow
  • Northern Flicker
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Red-winged Blackbirds
  • Ring-necked Pheasant
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Song Sparrow
  • Mallard
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Bluebird
  • Barn Swallow

Prophetstown burn2

By the time we hiked to the Fishing Pond, the park employees had started the controlled burn. It looked to be the area on Trail 3 and the part of Trail 2 that was on the South side of the road. We watch the massive flames and huge roils of smoke as the fire quickly caught and then just as quickly extinguished. We watch for a long time as they fire came closer to the road.

As we walked back to our car, we decided to eat our lunch facing the fire and watch even longer. Check out this DNR explanation for the reason State Parks and other prairie reserves have controlled burns.

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Bicentennial Birding at Mounds and Summit Lake State Parks

2016-02-27 15.50.40On our quest to visit all the State Parks in this their Centennial year, we arrived at Mounds State Park about 1:30 PM on February 27. It was a beautiful, blue sky day. A bit windy, but 52 degrees. After visiting the wonderful Nature Center, we started walking trail 5. This is a good hike to take here as it starts by following the section of the old traction route that went to the amusement park that used to be on this property. This route skirts the boundary of the park, so you get a great overall feel of the park. It passes one of the ancient Indian mounds for which the park is named and then goes into the woods and then follows the White River. It circles back and you end up back at the Nature Center.

Birds Seen at Mounds: 

  • Carolina Chickadee
  • House Finch
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Sandhill Cranes (flying overhead)
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker – H
  • Northern Cardinal – H
  • Blue Jay – H
  • Mourning Doves
  • American Crows

DSC_0046Our next stop on our quest was Summit Lake State Park. We took trail 4 through the prairie and woods. We chose this short trail due to the lateness in the day – 4:45. We saw quite a bit of evidence of beaver – gnawed on stumps along the shoreline.

Birds Seen at Summit Lake:

  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Canada Geese
  • American Crows
  • American Robins
  • Red-winged Blackbirds
  • Red-tailed Hawk (on the nest)
  • Lesser Scaup (male & female)*

On our way home, we encountered a flock of about 200 crows in Indianapolis along 465 in trees and flying above one of the neighborhoods. Quite an impressive show!

*Lifebird

Categories: Birding, Life Birds, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bicentennial Birding Update

Bicentennial Birding – February 20

At the top of the firetowerWe drove down to McCormick’s Creek State Park to hike Saturday. It was a perfect day of sunshine, blue skies and a high of 73 degrees! Although a very busy park, we were able to have a good day of hiking to and up the fire tower and then a short hike to the falls. There were way too many dogs on the trails including a very rude couple who let their dog run up to us NOT on a leash and didn’t even apologize for terrorizing me! Wouldn’t even make eye contact! Most dog owners see that I’m afraid and are very courteous and helpful in keeping control of their dogs. I appreciate these responsible dog owners.

Birds in the park:

  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • American Crow
  • Red–bellied Woodpecker
  • Carolina Wren – heard
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Cardinal

McCormick's Creek Fire Tower view

Bicentennial Birding – February 21

We decided not to waste another gorgeous day since 6 plus inches of snow was predicted to fall on the 24th! We drove up to Prophetstown State Park and walked trail 3 along the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers. It was colder than yesterday, but as we got hiking, we warmed up quickly!

Birds in park:

  • Killdeer
  • Red Winged Black Bird
  • American Crow
  • Gull
  • Kestrel
  • Canada Goose
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Bald Eagle
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Song Sparrow
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Blue Jay

 

Prophetstown SP wet meadowProphetstown SP

Categories: Birding, McCormick's Creek State Park, Prophetstown State Park, State Parks Indiana, Tippecanoe 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

Bicentennial Birding Big Year Continues

January 30. On the last Saturday of the month, we went on a bird hike in Celery Bog in West Lafayette led by Barny Dunning, professor of Wildlife Ecology at Purdue University. It was a great, informative hike on a “crisp” 40 degree day with the sun shining (most of the time!)

2016-01-30 09.46.29-1We were able to add several birds to our list only because we had experts with us in the field explaining their field marks and the similarities and differences.

Birds Seen at Celery Bog

  1. Cackling Goose
  2. White Fronted Goose
  3. Snow Goose
  4. White fronted Canada Cross
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Ring-necked Duck
  7. Mute Swan
  8. American Coot
  9. Gadwall
  10. Northern Shoveler
  11. Mallard
  12. Black Duck
  13. Coopers hawk
  14. Northern flicker
  15. Cardinal
  16. Tufted Titmouse
  17. Dark-eyed Junco
  18. Chickadee
  19. Red bellied woodpecker
  20. Nuthatch

We also saw about 12 muskrats on the ice! They were diving for underwater foliage and then bringing it up in the sunshine to munch on! I have never seen so many muskrats so close.

We decided to continue our birding day by ourselves and went north to Benton County.

Birds seen while driving:

  1. Bald Eagles on Wabash River
  2. American Crow
  3. American Kestrel

At Pine Creek Gamebird Habitat Area in Benton County:

  1. Rough-legged Hawk

At Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, Morroco, IN:

  1. Blue Jay
  2. Red Headed Woodpecker
  3. Red-tailed hawk
  4. Northern Harrier

A great day. Special thanks to Barny Dunning and the entire group of guys we hike with at Celery Bog. It was a great, fun & informative morning!

2016-01-30 09.46.39

Categories: Benton County, Birding, Life Birds, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Has Winter’s Grip Been Broken? March 7-9, 2015

Stephanie and I were finally able to get outside this weekend and hike again! We haven’t really been able to do so since our First Day Hike. Between snow storms, ice storms, bad roads, frigid temps, vehicle failures and commitments, we have not been able to get out and hike as we would have liked.

Photo of an orange oak leaf in the iceOn Saturday, as we unloaded our recycling at our local drop off location, we heard our first killdeer of the season.

On Sunday, we went to  Rock River landing to take a short hike on the Sugar Creek Rail Trail. After carefully making our way up the steep, icy embankment at the trail head, we walked to the Nucor Bridge on Sugar Creek, which was mostly frozen over still.

 Birds seen:

  1. Bald eagle
  2. Downy Woodpecker
  3. Chickadee
  4. Nuthatch
  5. Junco
  6. Canada geese
  7. Robins
  8. Tufted Titmice
  9. Blue Jays
  10. Cardinals

On our way home, we saw:

  1. Kestrel (many)
  2. Turkey Vultures (yay!)
  3. Robins
  4. Red-tail hawk stooping from wire to field for its prey
  5. Red shouldered hawk
  6.  Horned Larks
  7. Mixed Blackbird flock

Eagle Creek reservoir by Stephanie CainMonday found us heading to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. This is our second time to visit this park together. we are really impressed with it. I had visited previously with my husband to attend his company picnics, which left no real time to hike or bird.

We parked at the Ornithology Center and started down a trail that would connect us to the Red Trail out and around the causeway around the Bird Sanctuary, This is a very easy hike and very pretty.

Although most of the reservoir was still iced over, the area where the current evidently runs was still open. We were able to catch sight of several flotillas of ducks and Canada geese.

Several surprises for us were spotting a wood thrush and a wonderful long look at a Peregrine falcon.

We saw sign of beaver, but didn’t see any beaver themselves. We saw a pair of mallards possibly looking for a nest site.

As we lingered at the observation room at the Ornithology Center (Wonderful place to spend an afternoon) we were able to spot and ID mute swans and common mergansers.

Peregrine Falcon, photo by Stephanie CainBird List for Eagle Creek:

  1. Red Shouldered Hawk
  2. Peregrine Falcon
  3. Coopers Hawk
  4. Blue Jay
  5. Nut hatch
  6. Tufted Titmouse
  7. Chickadee
  8. Down Woodpecker
  9. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  10. Cardinal
  11. Goldfinch
  12. Field Sparrow
  13. Song Sparrow
  14. Wood Thrush
  15. Mute Swan
  16. Canada Geese
  17. Goldeneye
  18. Wood Duck
  19. Common merganser
  20. Bufflehead
  21. Mallards

What a wonderful weekend with the promise of more to come!

Categories: Birding, Marion County, Montgomery County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adopt A Trail

Hike Date: August 31, 2014
Indiana State Parks has a volunteer program called Adopt A Trail in which volunteers agree to walk their chosen trail once a month and check on trail conditions, pick up litter, and notify park officials as to any problems with the trail.

Stephanie and I decided to adopt the Backpack Trail and Canoe Camp at our absolute favorite state park in Indiana – Shades.

For those who have never visited this park, you are missing a gem. It is a beautiful place in Montgomery County along Sugar Creek. The trails are along ravines, in upland woods, hemlock ridges and along prairie (formerly known as the Roscoe-Turner Airstrip.)

This was our fourth month to hike the trail in this capacity. We have hiked the seven-mile round trip in as little as 3-1/2 hours and as long as 7 hours. This time was a moderate pace at 5 hours.photo 1

It is always interesting to walk the same trail on a regular basis to see the different flora and fauna present.

This was a day of tiny toads and frogs and fungi and plants setting seeds.

Items of note:

  • Doll’s eyes / White Banebarry
  • Jack in the pulpit seed pod
  • Tiny toads
  • Fungi
  • Spice Bush Berries
  • Pawpaw (Indiana Banana) Fruit
  • Giant Lobelia
  • Asiatic Lily
  • Tall Bellflower
  • Brown Eyed Susan

Birds seen:

  • Chickadee
  • Down Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Crow
  • Blue Jay
  • Eastern Wood Pewee

 

Categories: Birding, Shades State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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