Posts Tagged With: turkey vulture

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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Mother’s Day Hike

After a leisurely Sunday drive along country roads, we arrived at Tippecanoe River State Park about noon. It was an overcast day to partly sunny with a high of 60 degrees.

Northern Banded Water SnakeWe walked first to the Nature Center, which was closed. Big Surprise there! And walked over to a fishing pier to look at the river. The trees were filled with Baltimore Orioles singing their hearts out. ROC looked down at the river’s edge and saw two Northern Banded Water Snakes swimming onto the shore. He is not a snake lover like SAC and I are, so he was not amused! He is always looking out for Eastern Massasauga, Cottonmouth Water Moccasins and Timber Rattlers on our hikes! We also saw a little Dekays Brown snake along the river.

We decided to hike trail 4 and part of 5. It was a perfect day and the trail was easy to hike and follow. Flowers were blooming and the trees were alive with birdsong.

One of our favorite birds was the entertaining Pileated Woodpecker. I first saw him clinging to a small sapling. He looked quite like a Red-tailed hawk does when they’re clinging to a power line – wobbly. IT then flew down to a fallen log and proceeded to flip last fall’s leaves looking for tidbits for lunch. We probably watch him for ten minutes or so – mesmerized by his performance.

SAC and I took a short hike along a wetland/pond area beside the road. It had two fishing piers on it and we walked from one to the other. We are always on the lookout for our nemesis bird the American Bittern – and our nemesis mammal – the otter. Now Indiana actually spent money to reintroduce otters to the state because of their rarity. But this past year, they let them be trapped because there are so many. I KNOW people have seen them at Muscatatuck, Prophetstown, and here at Tippecanoe River (one of the reintroduction sites), but unfortunately we have never seen one.

We did have a good walk and SAC got to see two families of Canada geese with their goslings, which brought some squee moments!

After driving some more, we finally left as we hadn’t had lunch yet! We drove down to Monticello and ate at the wonderful Sportsman Inn. for some fantastic hamburgers to fortify ourselves after a 5.6 mile 4 hour hike with 12 new (possibly 13) State Park Birds.

Home at 8 PM. A long day, but quite satisfying.

Orchard OrioleBlooming flowers were:

  • Purple Trillium
  • Phlox
  • Spring Beauty
  • Yellow Cinquefoil
  • Rue Anemone
  • Wild Geranium
  • Bue Violet
  • Mayapples
  • Yellow Bellwort

Birds seen or heard:

  • American Robin
  • American Goldfinch
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Grey Catbird
  • Song Sparrow
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Northern Parula
  • White Crowned Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black Capped Chickadee
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Oven Bird
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Northern Flicker
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Red Shouldered Hawk
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • American Crow
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker
  • Red Headed Woodpecker
  • Common Grackle
  • Red Winged Blackbird
  • Brown Headed Cowbird
  • Canada Goose
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Orchard Oriole

*Bolded species are new in state parks.

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

Four State Park Blitz – March 20 & 21

After picking up SAC from work on Saturday afternoon, we drove to Batesville to get a jump-start on our State Park weekend.

Sunday dawned cold at 34 degrees but sunny and promising. Arriving at Versailles State Park we drove around to familiarize ourselves with the park. We stopped at the Nature Center (see Rant post) – which was closed – and then we decided to hike trail 1.

We were surprised to see so many wildflowers in bloom or getting ready to bloom, but since we have had a seemingly early spring following a relatively easy winter, I should not have been surprised.

We added several birds to our State Park IBBY challenge.

Birds Seen at Versailles:Versailles warbler

  • American Robin
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Tree Swallow
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Canada Goose
  • American Crow
  • Bald Eagle
  • Killdeer
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Brown Creeper
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Carolina Chickadee

Flowers in Bloom:

  • Trout Lily
  • Spring beauty
  • Bloodroot (leaves still cloaked tightly around stem)
  • Spring cress
  • Salt & Pepper (Harbinger of Spring)
  • Cut Leaf toothwort

Versailles has a lot of hills and ravines and after getting on a wrong trail and backtracking for a while, we finally made to back to the car. We hiked 3.45 miles.

After killing ourselves on the Versailles hills and ravines, we drove on to Clifty Falls State Park. We stopped at the Nature Center – which was closed (Rant Post forthcoming) and took our traditional hike on the trail to the Tower. We have to do this every time we come to this park. It is a short easy hike – unless you climb to the top of the tower, which we always do! I love looking down on the Ohio River and back towards Madison.

Cliffty Falls

Again we drove around the park to re- familiarize ourselves with the layout before deciding what trails to take. Since all the trails seem to be point to point, ROC was more than happy to drop us off and sit in the Inn reading in the overlook room or in front of the fireplace while he waited for us to return and our room to be ready.

Cliffty Falls2

I left it to SAC to decide which trail to hike. We started to hike Trail 2, but the water was too deep and the temperatures too cold for us to ford at that trail point. So we opted to hike trail 5 to 8 to 2 to 1. Again we traversed ups and downs in the ravine and across the creek twice – more fordable on that trail. It was a gorgeous hike and we quickly warmed up.

Cliffty Falls3

 

We were hoping to see some black vultures among the turkey vultures and we were not disappointed. As we came to the end of our hike we went past the Nature Center, one black vulture was on the bird feeder post and one was in the window sill of the building!

Clifty Falls black vultures

We were keep entertained by a pair of pileated woodpeckers and a red-bellied woodpecker as they hopscotched through the trees keeping up with us as we panted along!

We were able to add three more birds to our State Park IBBY challenge.

Birds Seen:Clifty Falls black vulture2

  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Northern Cardinal
  • White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Black Vulture

Flowers in Bloom:

  • Dutchman’s Breeches
  • Squirrel Corn
  • Phlox
  • Rue Anenome
  • Trillium Sessile (Wake Robin)
  • Spring Beauty
  • Salt & Pepper (Harbinger of Spring)
  • Cut Leaf toothwort
  • Blood Root
  • Virginia Bluebells (some out most almost out)
  • Redbud
  • Spice Bush

We hiked 4.64 miles and had a substantial supper at the Clifty Falls Inn where we spent the night in a gorgeous room overlooking the Ohio River and right down Main Street Madison, Indiana.

Cliffty Inn

After a great breakfast buffet at the Inn the next morning, we drove on to Charlestown State Park. We drove all over to get the lay of the land and then ROC & SAC decided we were going to hike the trail to Rose Island – a former amusement park wiped out by the 1937 flood. The hike to and from the “island” (really a peninsula) was a seemingly straight up and down (seems to be a theme for this weekend!). At least this trail was paved, so we could look around a little as we walked instead of being worried about roots and rock outcroppings sending us over the ledge!

Blog Rose Island

The trail on Rose Island itself was graveled and very easy hike. We had a leisurely walk around the newly marked (need better word – museum person!!!) It was enjoyable and informative.

We hiked 1.43 miles on this trail. We saw no birds or flowers in this park, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a great mixture of nature and history.

Blog Rose Island2

Our last stop was Falls of the Ohio State Park in Jeffersonville. It was very windy, but sunny and around 54 degrees. The water was very high, so we were not able to walk on the lower shelf of fossils, but we did enjoy walking on the upper shelf.

Blog Falls of the Ohio 2

We added a new IBBY State Park Bird:

  • Double Crested Cormorant

We didn’t go into the newly redesigned Visitors’ Center/Museum for two reasons. It was getting late and ROC and I had to go to work Tuesday morning early. And also it costs $9 per person. The last time we were here we went through the Visitors’ Center and it was a wonderfully informative and well-down and I can’t imagine what they did to improve the Visitors’ Center, but I hope to enjoy going through it sometime soon.

Blog Falls of the Ohio

We did make a quick stop at the Clark Cabin and saw the eagle nest across the river on an island. Both parents were on the nest.

Our drive home was as uneventful as one could wish. We drove 459 miles, walked 10.49 miles and added 8 new State Park birds. Great weekend Blitz!

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

A Great Day at Goose Pond

Goose Pond Does Not Disappoint – March 13, 2016

I had been seeing posts from other bloggers and E-bird lists saying that great amounts of American Pelicans had been seen Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area. So my husband said my daughter and I should to go. Now when we’ve gone hunting particular birds, our track record is not all that great. I had told him after our fruitless trip to see short-eared owls at Kankakee Sands again this year that I was NOT going to chase a particular bird.

But we took off Sunday in overcast, rainy conditions and drove the 2 hours to get there. And it continued to rain off and on all day, but what a day!!!

It didn’t take us long to find the pelicans – bazillions of them!!! (That’s an official birding term, I’m sure.) They were quite a ways away, but they are so huge they are unmistakable. And every so often they would fly up and over and circle around to give us the classic pelican view!

Pelicans - LOTS

I read in my field guides that the American Pelican is the inland pelican seen on lakes and along rivers in the middle of the continent. My daughter had seen them on a trip to Yellowstone Nation Park with her grandparents. I had seen them in North Dakota on a family trip when I was in high school. It is quite a shock to see them when you equate pelicans with the ocean and seashore. The American Pelican also fishes along the surface of the water as it swims catching fish and smaller organisms while I have seen the Brown Pelican fold its wings close to its body and bomb into the ocean to come up with a fish in its pouch.

Pelicans

As we were driving around the roads looking for other birds and trying to get a closer view of the pelicans, we stopped and walked along a trail and noticed two large white birds. Now I knew people had seen these birds here, but I assumed it was by hard core birders, not amateurs like I am. Wrong! WHOOPING CRANES!!! And not just those two, but as we drove around, we saw three more at another location – one of which was a juvenile and then another two as we were getting ready to each our lunch.

Whooping Crane

We saw three eagle, one of which was juvenile. And our favorite duck – another bazillion American Coots!

The day turned sunny and warm – 70 degrees – as we traversed the roads. We kept running into a caravan of cars where the people all had huge cameras and tripods. We stopped after seeing the first two whooping cranes and my daughter went over and asked if they’d seen them. They hadn’t, so she gave them directions to where we had found them. After reading one of my favorite blogger’s post, I’m wondering if it was Jim McCormac as he was here helping lead a photography class the same day. I would have loved to have met him, as he has been a great help to me in learning new things in nature just by reading his blog and applying what I have learned.

We finally decided we needed to leave for our 2 hour drive back home, but as we were leaving, my daughter said, “Goose Pond has not disappointed us!”

Whooping Cranes with immature

Goose Pond Birds:

  1. Red Winged Black bird
  2. Kestrel
  3. Mallard
  4. American Coot
  5. American Pelican
  6. Whooping Crane
  7. Eastern Meadowlark
  8. Wood duck
  9. Redhead
  10. Killdeer
  11. Mourning Dove
  12. Bufflehead
  13. Bald Eagle
  14. Sandhill Crane
  15. Downy Woodpecker
  16. White Breasted Nuthatch
  17. Yellow-shafted Flicker
  18. American Crow
  19. Canada Goose
  20. Song Sparrow
  21. Field Sparrow
  22. Chipping Sparrow
  23. American Tree Sparrow
  24. Northern Harrier
  25. Northern Shoveler
  26. Canvasback
  27. Lesser Scaup
  28. Greater Scaup
  29. Ring Necked Duck
  30. Woodcock – H
  31. Red Tailed Hawk (with a snake in its talons)
  32. Bronzed Grackles

In Linton:

  1. Red Shouldered Hawk

On way Home:

  1. Wild Turkey
  2. Turkey Vulture
Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, Life Birds | 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

International Vulture Awareness Day

As always, I’m late with this post. In honor of International Vulture Awareness Day, which was September 5. I am posting my daughter’s pictures of a local hangout. For some reason, this nearby town’s water tower is a favorite resting place for the turkey vultures around here. Quite often this is the first place we see them in the spring and the last in the fall. Vultures are one of our very favorite birds. They bring such a longing to soar and ride the thermals in my soul. Restless longings.

 

It’s not just vultures in Indiana, either. My daughter took a picture in Texas last November of Black Vultures sitting on a water tower!

Of course, the Turkey Vultures also spend time soaring over our house.

DSC_0890

We also saw a huge kettle several years ago on US 231, as we were southbound towards Spencer, Indiana.

turkey vultures 001

turkey vultures 002

turkey vultures 003

turkey vultures 004

Categories: Birding, Montgomery County | 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

Prophetstown State Park

September 8, 2014

The day started out fairly cool, but quickly warmed up under pure blue skies and bright sunshine. And the mosquitoes sure were out in force today in the woods.

I wish I knew my dragonflies better, but I don’t need to know their names to enjoy their beauty! If anyone out there can id – feel free to leave me a comment. Sometimes, they even rest long enough to capture a photo of them.

Stephanie noticed a shadow pass over and she looked up and spotted an adult bald eagle. It circled higher and higher until it was out of our sight.

This park is wonderful to hike in especially when the temperatures are cooler – even on a cold, but sunny day. One of my fondest memories of this park is when we held a family Thanksgiving Day picnic with my sisters.

 

Birds seen:

  • American Crow
  • American Robin
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Tree Swallow
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Mystery bird!
Categories: Birding, Botany, Insects, Prophetstown State Park, State Parks Indiana, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Signs of Spring

What are the signs of Spring to you? I have a few touchstone species that always give me hope in the midst of the cold, wintry and very long February!

Robins. I saw my first one on the property this year on January 31. Although they are not my definitive species as we generally have overwintering robins in some of the surrounding cities, I still like to see them.

Skunk Cabbage. Any plant that can bloom in the midst of the icy marsh has my vote as a harbinger of Spring. Check out Jim McCormac’s blog post about skunk cabbage and my previous mentions of this species…

Skunks. Always noticeable this time of year are all the dead skunks in the middle of the road! And also very noticeable the other evening was the smell of the skunk on our front and back porches. One probably ran into the fat opossums eating out of my tray feeder.

Killdeer. We heard our first killdeer of the year as we were hanging up the kestrel box on Sunday.

Turkey Vultures. We always are quite excited to see our first turkey vultures of the year, which we saw February 17 this year. There is nothing like watching turkey vultures lazily drifting in the thermals on a sunny day. I often wish I could be up there with them being lifted and turned by the warm thermals.

Categories: First Of Year, First of Year, Spring | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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