Saturday, January 23, 2010

Seven new species for 2010

The weather wasn’t very conducive to good birding this week...fog, freezing fog, rain, freezing rain, and generally dismally dark and gray. But I did get to pick up seven new first-of-year (FOY) and BIGBY species.

My BIGBY count now stands at 70 species for 2010. That’s a new personal record for a January BIGBY count, and well ahead of my 2009 pace (I didn’t get 70 BIGBY species until March 1 in 2009). The downside of getting my birds this early is that I’m most likely to run into a serious BIGBY drought until spring migration gets underway.

The seven new FOY/BIGBY species are:

* Red-winged Blackbird – 1/16, IU XC course

* Eastern Screech Owl – 1/17, heard in early AM

* Hermit Thrush – 1/17, IU XC course, scrounging around for the last few dried-up honeysuckle berries

* Belted Kingfisher – 1/17, perched in a tree above a patch of open water in an apartment complex pond near Pete Ellis Drive. I had to go looking for him. I wouldn’t have known he was there if I hadn’t heard the call first.

* Barred Owl – 1/18, early AM, flushed from woods near IU XC course. I love these birds.

* Northern Bobwhite – 1/18, five birds flushed from field north of IU XC course. Only my second sighting in the last seven months.

* Eastern Phoebe – 1/18, perched on wire along Indiana Railroad tracks, maybe 200 feet east of Pete Ellis Drive. Fourth January in a row I’ve seen a phoebe.

* Rough-legged Hawk – 1/23, flying over IU golf course...only the second one I’ve seen this winter

I watched a female Northern Cardinal singing this morning...something I don’t get to see all that often. Seems a little early in the season for a singing female. Of course, it was only a couple of years ago that I found out that female cardinals could sing. :-)

I’ve also noticed what seems like a bumper crop of cardinals this winter. There are a LOT of cardinals in the brush along the sides of the IU XC course, as well as in the brush along the Indiana Railroad tracks south of 10th Street. Seems like more of them than in past winters.

Speaking of cardinals, I was listening to what I thought was a cardinal singing fragments of its song when I realized it was a Tufted Titmouse singing a slightly different song. That makes maybe about the fourth species I’ve mistaken for cardinals over the years. The other three? Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren, and Ovenbird.

A few other highlights from this week:

* About 200 American Crows on the ground along Pete Ellis Drive. It appeared they were feeding on small acorns. They didn’t fly away as I approached, but just sort of edged out of the way. The crows closest to me faced towards me and looked for all the world like they were barking at me. :-)

* Four Red-bellied Woodpeckers on my feeders simultaneously, two on each feeder. A yard record.

* A Pileated Woodpecker on a feeder. Very rare occurrence, even though they are plentiful a few hundred yards away.

* Northern Harrier over IU XC course.

* Merlin perched in tree on XC course.

* Many Canada Geese flying low over my house in numerous flocks Sunday evening...750+ birds.

* Watched a flock of 40-50 Canada Geese fly low over me one morning in fairly thick fog. Very ethereal, with muted honks. As they flew away from me they each disappeared in the fog, as if someone was turning off a string of lights one-by-one.

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