Google+ Badge

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cormorants

During the last week before the Hendricks County Artisans show, as I was focusing upon getting ready for this event, I had not been able to do as much wildlife observing. Bruce Neckar and John Bundy and I attended the open house for the new headquarters for the Indiana Wildlife federation.
Bruce has wangled my white birch frames with his prints into the office areas of the staff and we appreciate the exposure. It was nice to see old friends and hang out with the movers and shakers of conservation in Indiana.

There was some discussion about using the large ballroom area they have to organize a wildlife arts show. We were very encouraged by the positive brainstorming about an event like this. The headquarters is near Massachusetts avenue arts area and we think it could be a worthwhile event.

John Bundy and I did the Hendricks county Artisan Marketplace Saturday, which was very disappointing. Shows can be a big gamble and this one was a definite loss.

But anyway, during this last week, I have seen lots of cormorants at the 236th street causeway in Cicero. I saw twenty on Friday and smaller groups almost every time I went by this place. A few weeks before, I saw a group of twenty or so flying high over Lapel.

When I first saw cormorants at Summit Lake perhaps twenty years ago, I thought they were arctic loons, but I have become more familiar with them and I am able to identify them by their distinctive profile. It is hard to get close to cormorants as they tend to stay out in the middle of waters just like loons do. I had never seen one or had any idea they were around until the nineties.

I can remember going across the Salamonie reservoir back them with my late buddy Brent Brower, a fellow naturalist. We saw something weird high in a dead tree that we thought might be an eagle. Upon closer approach, we were able to get a photo that later verified that it was a cormorant who had been caught by the neck in the fork of the dead tree. The day was dim and the lighting was bad, but when the photos came back, the distinctive shape of the bill positively confirmed what we had thought, a double crested cormorant. Dead a hundred feet in the air, killed by a freak accident.

These birds are increasingly common in this area, preying upon the large numbers of gizzard shad in the area lakes. Cormorants are mostly found along the ocean coasts and are famously used by Chinese fishermen to catch fish. This is a human-animal partnership that goes back thousands of years.

I have been doing a little looking for warblers, but have only seen yellow rumps. I hope that the cold front coming in will bring them down. I did put out a few more of my bird feeders. We are waiting for winter to hit.
Post a Comment