Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Indiana Invasion! By Landon Neumann

Fall birding is always lot of fun.  It’s even cooler when you have the chance to see birds that rarely come south to Indiana come down in large numbers for the winter. Two weeks ago I had the chance to go up to the lakefront to witness the spectacular winter finch and Bohemian Waxwing display that has been going on this fall.   It was an amazing day of birding.

A friend of mine had wanted to go up to the lakefront this November, so on November 10th we left bright and early to drive up to the lakefront to meet up with some local birders to bird with.  We were hoping to see Bohemian Waxwings and Evening Grosbeaks.  Both of these birds are pretty rare in Indiana except during invasion years like this year.  After meeting up with the group our group headed over to Johnson Beach to look for Bohemian Waxwings that had been reported there.  At the beach we didn’t have much, so we moved on to Ogden Dunes where waxwings, crossbills, and a Townsend’s Solitaire had been reported.

As we arrived at Ogden Dunes a birder had re-found the Solitaire, so our group rushed over to look at this western thrush that shows up in Indiana every now and then.  After we had gotten good looks at the Solitaire we ascended up a dune, so that we could watch for waxwings and crossbills fly over the pinerys.  For the next half an hour we enjoyed frequent flyover White-winged Crossbills with the occasional Red Crossbill flying right above our heads.  Then it happened.  As we enjoyed our latest crossbill flock we saw two large waxwings fly into the tree.  A quick scan revealed them to be Bohemian Waxwings!   For the birders on top of the dune it felt like Christmas day.  Everyone was giving each high-five as we celebrated.  After another fifteen minutes we went down the dune and enjoyed a Red-throated Loon swimming on the lake.  Just to top the day off we next went to Indiana Dunes State park where there had been Evening Grosbeaks at the feeders and within fifteen minutes we had thirty-one Evening Grosbeaks pigging out at the park’s feeders.  
After a quick lunch we conducted a lakewatch to try to find some Cave Swallows. We didn’t get any swallows or really any birds for that matter but, it didn’t really matter because we had already seen Bohemian Waxwings (a lifer for me), and Evening Grosbeaks in Indiana!  It will be a day I will always remember.

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