Advice for students: Bloomington is for the birds

As a local government reporter, it is not hard to justify writing about the fancy birds that hang out in Bloomington’s public parks.

The birds at public parks are a part of my regular beat, because public parks are run by local government.

Local government officials can look to the redhead ducks at Miller-Showers or great blue herons at Griffy Lake  as an example to follow: As long as I have been watching, Bloomington’s pretty birds have never violated Indiana’s Open Door Law.

But the public parks are not the only outdoor places in Bloomington. There’s plenty of remarkable birds in other parts of town. Continue reading “Advice for students: Bloomington is for the birds”

Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake

Last Tuesday, after Bloomington’s board of park commissioners meeting, operations director Tim Street told The B Square that a pair of bald eagles live out at Griffy Lake.

There’s a old reporter’s motto: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

So on Saturday, The B Square checked it out.

Street was not kidding.

In the early afternoon, from the north end of the causeway, perched in a tree about 250 yards away, across the water on the south shore of the lake, a bald eagle was barely visible.

It flew off west along the south shore, then circled back, looped around low towards the middle of the lake, snatched a fish out of the water with its talons, and flew back to its perch, where it snacked on the fish.

The set of photos below, all taken on Saturday,  is presented in chronological order. It starts with a red-tailed hawk in downtown Bloomington, a great blue heron at Griffy Lake, the bald eagle, a turtle who made friends with a Canada goose, and a great blue heron at Miller-Showers Park.

Continue reading “Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake”

Photos: Heron flouts no-fishing rule at Bloomington park, red-winged blackbird is a jerk

Over the last week, Miller-Showers Park on the north side of town, wedged between Walnut Street and College Avenue, has continued to see lots of bird activity.

On Sunday, in the skies above the park, a red-winged blackbird was preemptively harassing a red-tailed hawk, to keep the raptor from even landing. That aerial battle is not documented in these sets of photos, which were taken on two different days.

The first set of photos features mainly shots of a red-winged blackbird harassing a great blue heron as it fished the pools. The blackbirds aggressively protect their nests, and will harass human visitors to the park, too.

The second set of photos features a couple of blue heron fishing success stories. The heron is built to fish, and scores frequent catches, which the bird swallows whole.

A posted sign at Miller-Showers states that fishing—along with swimming, diving or skateboarding—is prohibited. The B Square has not documented any sk8er blue herons at the park.

The wildlife at Miller-Showers could get some mechanical visitors sometime in the next few weeks. The ponds are supposed to be dredged sometime in the first half of the year, according to one of the goals set by city of Bloomington utilities (CBU). CBU operates the pools as part of the city’s stormwater management system.

The bathymetric survey that supports the dredging was completed late last year. Two sets of photos are included after the jump. Continue reading “Photos: Heron flouts no-fishing rule at Bloomington park, red-winged blackbird is a jerk”

Photos: Great blue heron catches fish, elects to eat with no review of provisional palate

Wildlife drama unfolded Saturday evening at Miller-Showers Park, which is wedged between Walnut Street and College Avenue on Bloomington’s north side.

In the early evening hours, a great blue heron flew in and landed near the east bank of the southernmost stormwater detention pond, towards the spillway to the next lower pond.

From there the bird worked its way along the bank southward, catching and eating at least one pretty big fish, which looked like a largemouth bass.

The great blue endured repeated harassment from a female red-winged blackbird, which would flutter about, at times landing on the bigger bird’s back. The great blue was unperturbed.

Also counted as part of the evening’s wildlife inventory at Miller-Showers Park was a mother mallard, with at least four ducklings in tow. A muskrat carved a V-shape in the water as it swam along the surface from north to south across the pond.

Saturday’s evening at the park offered good weather for wildlife viewing—clear skies around 80 F degrees with winds out of the southeast at 7 mph. More photos below. Continue reading “Photos: Great blue heron catches fish, elects to eat with no review of provisional palate”

Photos: Great blue heron catches, eats fish, declines to entertain motion to postpone

A Sunday afternoon visit to Miller-Showers Park on the north side of Bloomington, wedged between College Avenue and Walnut Street, confirmed that great blue herons are carnivores. Winds were out of the west at 16 mph with a temperature around 67 F degrees.

More photos below. They’re displayed in chronological order. Just after The B Square arrived at Miller-Showers, the heron flew from the southernmost pool down to the lower (northernmost) pool.

Continue reading “Photos: Great blue heron catches, eats fish, declines to entertain motion to postpone”

Photos: Birds in Bloomington parks (April 16, 2022)

On last week’s visit to Miller-Showers Park on Bloomington’s north side, The B Square spotted a great blue heron, some Canada geese and some mallards.

This Saturday, the great blue heron, geese, and mallards were again on display. But compared to last week, the park offered a bigger inventory of critters. Continue reading “Photos: Birds in Bloomington parks (April 16, 2022)”

Photos: Birds in Bloomington parks (April 10, 2022)

Miller-Showers Park, which is on the north side of town nestled between College Avenue and Walnut Streets, is a favorite spot for The B Square to visit on a pleasant weekend afternoon.

Around 2 p.m. on Sunday the temperature was about 60 F degrees with mostly clear skies.

Resting on the retaining wall of the lower (northernmost) pool of the park was a mallard. The duck un-burrowed its head from its feathers just long enough to be photographed.

Unnoticed by The B Square at the time was the photobombing of the mallard by a great blue heron, which was wading in the waters to the east of the lower pool. A pair of Canada geese floated not far away. Continue reading “Photos: Birds in Bloomington parks (April 10, 2022)”

Photos: Redhead ducks return to Bloomington’s Miller-Showers Park

Around the end of February last year, I was alerted to the presence of redhead ducks at Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.

Redhead ducks not permanent residents of the park. They were just passing part of the winter there. I had never seen redhead ducks in real life, so I wrote a column about them.

Since then, I have made regular visits to Miller-Showers Park looking for wildlife. And over the last year, I have been rewarded with sightings of a Great Blue Heron  and a Mediocre Muskrat.  I count this as remarkable for a park that is nestled between two of Bloomington’s heaviest traveled streets: College Avenue and Walnut Street.

I was hoping that the redheads would return this year.

I was prepared for disappointment, but on Sunday afternoon I was delighted to see they had returned. Here’s some additional photos. Continue reading “Photos: Redhead ducks return to Bloomington’s Miller-Showers Park”

Miller-Showers Park ponds to get mapped as prep for possible dredging

Miller-Showers Park looking east. The image is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

The mallard ducks and great blue heron that sometimes hang out at Miller-Showers Park, on the north side of Bloomington, could see some mechanical company sometime in the next week or so.

A company called Heartland Dredging will be pinging the depths of the waters, to chart out an underwater map of the sedimentation in the detention ponds.

The detention ponds at Miller-Showers Park are part of the city’s northside stormwater management infrastructure. Stormwater from more than 170 acres of the city drains into the Miller-Showers facility, and eventually farther downstream. Continue reading “Miller-Showers Park ponds to get mapped as prep for possible dredging”