High: 39°F ~ Low: 17°F
Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014
Rare shorebird spotted at Goose Pond FWAPosted Monday, September 12, 2011, at 1:00 PM
The Hudsonian Godwit has made a rare appearance at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area.(Photo courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology www.allaboutbirds.org)
The massive wetlands site continues to alter some bird migration paths.
Bird-watchers at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area recently spotted not one but several members of a rare shorebird species that's an even rarer visitor to the state of Indiana.
In early September, bird enthusiasts spotted five Hudsonian Godwits.
Hudsonian Godwits are a large shorebird with a long, upturned bill that breed in the Arctic and winter in remote areas of southern South America.
After breeding, the Hudsonian Godwit undertakes a migration from the subarctic to southern South America, in which it apparently makes nonstop flights of several thousand miles, according to information from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area Property Manager Brad Feaster said the birds were sighted as recently as Saturday, but he's not sure they are still in the area.
"It's pretty cool that they've been here. I don't know if they are still here. I don't know if anyone saw them yesterday (Sunday). They are just a rare migrant bird. It's rare for them to stop in Indiana. They usually overfly Indiana," Feaster said Monday morning.
Feaster said the birds are heading south from the Saskatchewan, Canada region to Argentina for the winter.
He speculated that some of the recent heavy storms along the Atlantic coast region might have held their southward flight up.
"One of the theories is Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene, the weather may have stalled them over Indiana and they've just kind of been here waiting for all of that clear out," Feaster said. "It's still cool that they are here nonetheless."
Feaster said there also have been recent sightings of the Hudsonian Godwit near Lake Michigan and two in Gibson County.
Goose Pond continues to amaze birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
DNR purchased the 8,034 acres from Wilder Farms and launched one of the state's largest wildlife restoration projects in 1999 -- which was completed two years ago.
Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area consists of 4,500 acres of shallow water wetlands and more than 1,500 acres of prairie.
Feaster said Wilder Farms was paid about $5 million for the rights to the property by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA also spent $6 million on the restoration while the state of Indiana (DNR) paid Wilder about $6 million for the purchase of the actual land.
Chip O'Leary, Kankakee Sands Project Director for The Nature Conservancy, which provided critical funding for the Goose Pond purchase, says, "Goose Pond has become a critical link in the chain of stopover sites along the western edge of Indiana, and one of the most important bird sites in the state."
Last September, an American Avocet was spotted at Goose Pond FWA -- a rare occurrence for this species.
Lee Sterrenberg, a member of the Sassafras Chapter of the Audubon Society and authority on Goose Pond birds, noted this was just the fourth sighting at Goose Pond FWA since he started keeping records in 2001 at the start of the wetlands restoration project.
"American Avocet once upon a time nested and bred in Indiana, but there is only one single breeding record ever, by John James Audubon near Vincennes in 1814," Sterrenberg pointed out.
The most recent bird count at Goose Pond FWA in December, 2010 showed 104 different species, including, Greater White-Fronted Goose, Snow Goose and the first Ross' Goose in the history of the local count.
If you have time and enjoy the outdoors, head out to the Goose Pond FWA and take in some of the sights. It would make for a great and relaxing fall afternoon adventure close to home.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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