January is normally not a good time to bird in northeast Indiana where Limberlost is located, but Limberlost is no ordinary place.
The morning of January 1, greater white-fronted geese and cackling geese were seen at Rainbow Lake. Great way to start the New Year! There was also a record 23 northern harriers seen on that day.
Sunday, January 14, Naturalist Curt Burnette, took a great photograph of a northern harrier in his yard from his kitchen window.
On January 16, Kimberley Roll of Marion, confirmed a short-eared owl at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve. It appeared to be chasing a northern harrier. This is the sixth winter in a row that these owls have been spotted at this location. About ten years ago, Ken Brunswick saw the first one in the area.
The very next day, Bill and Sherry Hubbard were out at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve, when they heard and saw a flock of about 200 snow geese fly to the field just north of the Loblolly Creek off of 300W. At this same location on January 24, Bill reported 1500+ snow geese and greater white-fronted geese.
January 17, Ecologist Ben Hess, was driving home and saw a flock of about 2000 snow geese flying over. About this time, Kimberley Roll saw about that many geese flying over at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve and got some photos of them. Others reported seeing this flock of birds.
Curt Burnette was photographing three snow geese on January 20, when he realized that they were surrounded by greater white-fronted geese.
January 21, John, Catalina, Luis and Juan Velasquez were at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve when they had a nice flock of snow geese with Ross’s geese mixed in flying around them. John called the place “magical.” We are happy that his three Indiana Young Birders got to experience the joy of that number of birds in flight.
Bill Hubbard, Kimberley Roll, April Raver and Brian Daugherty all took some great pictures of the snow geese. April even got a nice video. Thank you all for sharing your pictures with Limberlost.
According to Dave Reichlinger, Sandy Shacht, and Marissa Windell, all longtime birders, there have not been that many snow geese in northern Indiana. All three came to Geneva to see them.
On the afternoon of January 22, Randy Lehman and I found a mixed flock of 500+ snow geese, cackling geese, greater white-fronted geese, and Canada geese just east of the Wabash River in a flooded field. This was an area that Gene Stratton-Porter called “Paradise on the Wabash.” On January 27 and 28, Randy and I followed a flock of about 1000 snow geese as they were feeding around Geneva. We think Gene would be amazed at the number of birds choosing to spend part of the winter at Geneva.
Bill Hubbard had a hooded merganser around his backyard on Lake of the Woods in late January and 34 robins in the tree in his backyard on January 27. Randy and I had about a dozen northern pintails on the north side of the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve on that same day.
We had at least 7 eastern meadowlarks and 3 northern mockingbirds here this month. Normally they are summer residents.
I cannot end without a comment about our resident bald eagles. There is activity at all three nests in our area. A very positive sign for another successful nesting year.
The year has only begun and we can only imagine what spring migration might bring to the area.
The birds are coming back to this area due to habitat restoration. By becoming a member of the Friends of the Limberlost, you are helping us to create more and better habitat for not only our native birds, but plants, animals and a host of insects such as Monarch butterfly.