A Travellerspoint blog

Indiana Dunes with Tian

Indiana Dunes State Park, IN

semi-overcast 85 °F

Tian was a good sport this morning and got up at 6am to accompany me to Indiana Dunes State Park for a morning of birding and herping! I had a target bird: Prairie Warbler, which I have always missed here in the past, and a target salamander: Eastern Red-backed, which would be a lifer for me.

Upon arriving at the entrance station, I immediately heard the chromatic-step song of a male PRAIRIE WARBLER in the dunes to our left so I clinched that species right off the bat. Unfortunately, after over a half hour of searching and hearing a second one sing as well, I could not get eyes on a single one of them. Frustrating, but I know what I had heard — the song is diagnostic. The area near the observation tower was birdy though, and an EASTERN KINGBIRD was present among others:

Along the state park road west of Wilson’s Shelter, I spied a trio of WILD TURKEYS alongside the road. Tian also had a crazy cool spot with a BARRED OWL bathing in a small creek — unfortunately that one flew away too quickly for photos.

A quick stint along Trail 2 yielded ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS but we unfortunately dipped on Cerulean Warbler. Birds get quiet and harder-to-find this time of the summer.

Several of the Cerulean’s cousin, the AMERICAN REDSTART, were piping away.

And we nailed the reliable male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER in the little marsh by Wilson’s Shelter. An amazing bird which was cool for Tian to see, too.

I flipped over a few logs along the trail, and sure enough, within the first ten logs flipped, I found my lifer Eastern Red-backed Salamander! I was honestly not sure if I would get this species since summer is not prime salamander time and it wasn’t exactly a wet day, but lo and behold, they were resting beneath the logs! These tiny salamanders were amazing to experience and kept burrowing their heads in the little gaps in between my fingers, trying to escape! Don’t worry, after a few quick photos, I set them down next to their logs.

Several gray phase individuals were also present! This doesn’t indicate age or sex; it is just another race of this same species. Super awesome!

Bird-wise, a heard-only SUMMER TANAGER was a nice addition along the trail, but it was otherwise rather quiet — the “summer doldrums.” Other life forms were present, though, including this Eastern Black Swallowtail:

One last try to get eyes on the Prairie Warblers wasn’t fruitful, but I did see this female/immature type PINE WARBLER.

Overall it was a great outing! Bird-of-the-day to the Prothonotary Warbler with runner-up to the heard-only Prairie Warblers. No top awards for heard-only birds! Thanks to Tian for accompanying me today.

Stay tuned: This is not confirmed, but in about a week, I may travel down to St. Louis for a few days with my mom and get the chance to bird and herp that area with my friend Theo! Fingers crossed it can work out.

Good birding,
World Life List: 1120 Species

Posted by skwclar 15:56 Archived in USA

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