Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BIGBY species #80 for 2010

Here's a capsule summary of recent BIGBY activity and other Indiana University cross country course highlights...

The big highlight was some *very* closeup views of a displaying American Woodcock last night. I had a lot of success last week over in Illinois in Urbana's Meadowbrook Park, where the woodcocks were going off like fireworks. That experience let me refine my technique for sneaking up on the birds while they are displaying. And I was rewarded there by my first ever sighting of a peenting woodcock on the ground, maybe 40 feet away! Last night I decided to try my luck on the IU XC course. When I got there I heard two woodcocks peenting, but only one was displaying. When the woodcock started his display flight I would walk quietly towards the source of the "peent" call. When the woodcock started coming down from his display I would stand stock still, until the woodcock took off again, and then I would once again walk towards the source of the "peent" call. After I repeated these steps several times, I was rewarded when the woodcock landed in the grass ten feet in front of me and started peenting!! Very cool!!! At one point there was still some light left in the western sky, so it was possible to watch the woodcock begin his display flights, silhouetted against the pale baby-blue sky. For a few short minutes there was enough background light to discern the blur of the woodcock's wings as he climbed up into the sky, looking for love. If anyone is interested in where this woodcock was starting his display flights, check out this map of the south section of the IU XC course:

Another highlight was yet another appearance by the "blasé coyote". This morning the coyote stood 75 feet away from me for at least five minutes, long enough for me to point it out to three different runners on the XC course. Eventually it started to look annoyed by the attention and walked leisurely away to the north. Jonathan Bauer also reported seeing it this AM. I don't recall seeing a coyote before that was so obviously unfazed by the presence of humans.

Finally, I had four first of year BIGBY species over the past several days, bringing my BIGBY total to 80 species for 2010::

* Osprey - flyover, headed in the general direction of Griffy Lake
* Wilson's Snipe - flushed from a wet area on the southern edge of the XC course
* Louisiana Waterthrush - walking along the edge of a small creek in a wooded area
* Tree Swallow - one bird, foraging for insects low over the XC course

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