“On The Road” Third Times The Charm

Galloway Ohio is one of those sleepy little communities that’s trying to hold onto it’s rural roots as urban sprawl knocks at it’s door. A combination of farms and homes on large lots speckle the landscape in this area just southwest of the circle highway surrounding Columbus Ohio. As a matter of fact this area holds one of my favorite birding spots, Battelle-Darby Metro Park.

I believe it was last Saturday when Cheryl B. noticed an unusual hummingbird at her feeder just outside in the backyard. Notifying her friend Jen A. they were then able to contact a certified hummingbird bander, that was able to safely net and then band the bird. They were then able to make the correct identification of a state first Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Word went out on Ohio Chase Bird Facebook page that visitors are welcome. Parking, viewing area, and birding etiquette was needed to be observed. Since the home owners worked they had to set up strict visitation hours for the week. By the time I read the post last Monday several hours had already passed.

I gathered my gear together and looked at a map to give me an idea of where the bird was located. It was about a 90 minute drive and 4 pm was the time they were closing it down for the day. I arrived a little after 2 pm and waited. And waited. And waited. It was a long drive home empty handed, however I was determined to go back the next day. Visitation was starting at 10 am and i was going to be there at that time.

The nest day prior to leaving I checked Facebook for any updates on the bird. It was feeding at 8:30. The wind was howling that day and with the temps in the 30’s that morning I had to dress up like it was winter. I arrived a little after 10 am, set up my spotting scope and waited as the wind wiped everyone there. With visitation ending at 4 pm, I decided to call it quits by 3:15 pm with the bird not showing up once.

Wednesday I needed to stay home and get somethings done and run some errands. And as you’d expect Facebook was lite up with the bird coming to the feeder on multiple occasions. My frustration grew on missing the bird again and the fact that they weren’t allowing birders to visit on Thursday or Friday. This left only this weekend to run up again.

Yesterday morning in the rain I drove once again back to tick off this bird. You were allowed to visit starting at 9 am, so I arrived just after 9. I noticed 3 guys packing it in, and i asked if the bird was showing up. They told me it was very active and they set up a second feeder for the bird.

I pulled in, unloaded, walked over to the group of birders congregated in the viewing area, and set my scope towards the new feeder. Within 2 minutes the bird showed up and I was finally able to check off this bird.

Don’t be too judgmental on the terrible photo, it was still raining and it was a good distance away.

State First

With everything going on this year, it’s no wonder that I’ve been super lazy when it comes to updating this blog. It’s not that I’ve not been birding, I have. Just not lately. I did a good amount in the Spring as migrants moved through but it’s not the same. I miss going to Lake Erie for the big birding festival and battle the people on the boardwalks at Magee Marsh, and other hot spots along the lake.

And since the focus was staying at home and social distancing I immersed myself into my gardens. And since this is a blog about birding, know one wanted to hear about my gardening exploits.

All that came to a screeching halt on the 25th of August when a local Akron birder was visiting a local reservoir. He was there in the evening time close to sunset to watch the Purple Martins congregate into this huge flock of as they swarm. As my buddy Phil said, “A mosquito hasn’t a chance on this lake”. And as I watched several videos of this happening it was really quite exciting especially for the people in their kayaks which had front row seats of this spectacle.

The birders name was Henry T., and as he was waiting for the Purple Martins to start swarming he spotted a large brownish bird flying over the lake. He watched as it dove, return to the air, float of the water, and eventually fly over to a dead tree and perch. As his mind was turning as what this bird might be, it was after watching it closely on it’s perch he identified it as a juvenile Brown Booby.

So as you can imaging this bird became an overnight sensation. Birders were coming up from Kentucky and down from Michigan just to see this bird. And it has not disappointed. Always returning to it’s perch along the shore of the lake in the same dead tree, it’s close proximity to a parking lot and short walk in the woods has enabled birders to check off a pretty rare bird. Myself included.

Myself and Phil pulled out his driveway at 6 am for the 3 hour drive. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful bird.

 

Cancelled

The Corona Virus is effecting everyone in some form or another. Myself and my children and loving wife are doing fine and are taking all necessary precautions. And as the rest of the country follow suit it came as no surprise that the Southwest Wings Spring Fling Birding Festival cancelled. Of all the places I’ve been anxiously wanting to visit, it’s this part of the country.

The only reservations I had to cancel were my hotel room and contact the festival to ask for a refund. I was glad that cancelling my hotel room was a easy process, with me getting a full refund. The festival itself has a $15.00 processing fee if you cancel prior to a given date. The date to receive a 90% refund was extended due to the virus, which was a good thing. But it still saddens me to go another year waiting to go. I was lucky not to have made my airline or car reservations yet, so it’s one less thing to bother with.

On the bright side this now gives me more time to study up and listen to calls and songs of the birds of Southeast Arizona, so I won’t be going out looking like a complete rookie.

To all my reader, stay safe and wash your hands.

Burrowing Owl

Yesterday I drove 4 1/2 hours for this 1st ever recorded Burrowing Owl for Kentucky. Being present for almost 2 weeks this bird has drawn a lot of attention. What’s so unusual about this owl is where it’s hiding. Not in the usual burrow as you might think, but in a crack of asphalt on top of a road culvert.

 

Time clicked away as the Owl sit in it’s crack, always scanning. It was about the time I was leaving when a farmer on his ATV drove by that the bird spooked out of it’s hole.  It returned to the road before hopping into it’s crack when I got a few more photos.

Southwest Wings Spring Fling: Update

With it only being the 13th of January, preparations are moving along pretty well for my forth coming trip to Southeast Arizona.

My hotel reservation has been made for the 5 nights I’ll be there. I made them with a reputable chain that I’ve used many times in the past, and the total price is under $300.00. For me that’s a win. It’s everything I need, a place to sleep, shower, and work on pictures and writing updates for the blog.

On January 1st. registration opened up for the Spring festival and that’s when I registered myself. Prior to finalizing the field trips I wanted to go on, I had to do some serious homework. Much like what I did before heading down to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival 5 years ago, I wanted to make sure the field trips I choose gave me the possibility of checking off more birds.

Here’s a list of the field trips I selected.

  1. Huachuca Canyon and Fort
  2. Owls of the Huachuca Mountains
  3. Ramsey and Brown Canyons
  4. Ash and Miller Canyons
  5. Madera and Box Canyon

Now most of these field trip, excluding the Owl one, end late afternoon. This leaves me with hours of birding left in the day. With the sun setting just after 7 pm, I should be able to fill my time with some constructive birding. Some of the places I’m thinking about, but not written in stone are:

  1. Escapule wash and San Pedro River
  2. Hunter Canyon
  3. Paton Center For Hummingbirds ( this one is written in stone)

If any of my readers have any suggestions to visit other places just drop me a line in the comments section. I will get back with a reply. All help will be appreciated.

 

Photographic Nemesis

For a number of years now, at least since I’ve started taking pictures of birds, the American Kestrel has been one of those birds I’ve not had a lot of luck with. The smallest of the North Americas falcon species I see them all the time. Around where I live you’ll see them on electrical lines overlooking farm land. Now it’s one thing to see them from the quiet confines of your car, and it’s another to sneak up on foot to get a picture. They typically fly away if anyone gets close.

Today I was visiting Fernald Preserve to check out the ponds for waterfowl. And while I was driving through the preserve I noticed a American kestrel teed up on a small tree with the sun hitting it almost perfectly. So I pulled my car over and crept closer trying to get a good angle on the Kestrel. Now if I was on foot I never would have been able to get close, but being in a car awarded me with some really good looks.