Birding is something relatively new to me and my wife, Sara. We jumped wholeheartedly into the exhilarating hobby of birding (yes, I do feel that is the correct word to describe birding) only five years ago. Knowing that my father-in-law, Mark, had farmland in Centerville, IN had never struck me as a target birding location. However, that changed this summer.
Mark had been telling Sara about his friend, “Mr. Bob.” An unusually conspicuous male Northern Bobwhite who would walk through the flowerbeds adjacent to the front porch. This is a bird that we have heard in many locations over the past few years. However, we had yet to have a clear view of one. His property is a little less than an hour drive from our house. I would make three visits over a week in June.
On the first visit to my father-in-law’s, from henceforth known as ‘Rogue Ranch,’ was a team of me, Sara, and Rogue-Birder-himself, Chris Collins. Arriving in the late (and hot) afternoon, it didn’t take long for us to hear Mr. Bob calling from the tall grasses. While waiting for a visual on our audible friend, we were filling our eBird list with all the ticks we could. While taking a break in the shade of the patio, we heard the namesake call of our Bobwhite. It was close! Chris spotted it not more than 30 feet away under a small tree, in full view, just north of the patio. The bird only stayed for a few seconds but it was a fantastic few seconds. We ended our couple of hours with 27 species, including nice looks a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
My second visit to Rogue Ranch was alone, three days later. I arrived in mid-afternoon and immediately heard Mr. Bob calling from the tall grasses north of the gravel drive. By the time I made it up to the house he went silent. I didn’t hear him for the next 25 minutes. Then an outburst – “Bob – White.” My immediate thought was ‘Holy Shit! It sounds like it’s under the same tree just north of the house!’ And he was! I watched the bird through the lattice for 10 minutes, occasionally whistling his call in return. Eventually, he stood up and walked towards the lattice, directly in front of me. I stood frozen, stunned as the bird approached, not knowing where to put myself. Oddly, as it got closer, the bird seemed to get smaller. I couldn’t believe how tiny he was.
Mr. Bob continued past the lattice, around the corner of the patio and gave me clear view – no more than two feet away (with no good camera angle or lighting, of course). I stood as still as possible while the little bird passed under the Catalpa tree east of the patio. He made its way across the gravel drive to perch on a fence post in the sun. He remained there for another 15 minutes before hopping down into the tall grass, deciding I had exhausted my stay.
Visit number three was simply an attempt at photo ops. Sara once again joined me along with our good friend, Amy Hodson. Patience was certainly needed, but it paid off.
Speeding through the first two hours of occasional calls and no sightings, Amy finally spotted Mr. Bob strutting along the edge of some tall grass 50 feet northeast of the patio. He moved beneath the shade of a small tree and began to call. It was a wonderful view of the vocalization, even being able to see and hear the quiet pickup-note prior to the two “Bob-White”notes. Eventually, Mr. Bob moved to a fencepost and obliged a photo-op of five minutes or more, leaving me with a complete sense of fulfillment….mostly.
This bird was missing a pairing to imbibe. It took me longer than usual to pair up a pint with this special moment. Greenfield’s own Wooden Bear Brewing offered up a solution. Like chasing Mr. Bob, I knew that this brewery’s newest IPA was available, but I didn’t know what my experience was going to be. I left completely fulfilled by Hence the Haze IPA which is a juicy IPA with a haze for days. Unfortunately, for most of you readers this is a Greenfield, IN local brewery that doesn’t distribute. The hoppy taste and floral smell was welcoming my senses to dive in. So I did. Cheers.
Follow my birding on Instagram @NikonBirdHunter and my drinking on Untappd under the same handle.
Beer Info –
Brewery – Wooden Bear Brewing
Location – 21 West North Street; Greenfield, Indiana 46140
Beer – Hence the Haze
Style – Double IPA brewed with honey
ABV – 5.7%
Untappd Rating – 4.25/5
URL – woodenbearbrewing.com
Bird Photo Info (in flight shot) –
Species – Northern Bobwhite
Nikon 850 / Sigma (C) 150-600mm lens
1/1600s @ F6.3. ISO 320 – 600mm
Handheld – No Flash
Location – Centerville, Indiana
Date – June, 2019