The First time I visited Highland County to search for the Henslow’s Sparrows a week or so ago I couldn’t have been more pleased with the number and ease which the sparrows could be observed. Walking along this one lane country road with Henslow’s singing from both sides of you was an experience I’ve not felt since they breed at Voice of America Park a long time ago. Once you tune your hearing for their small “hic-cup” song the easier it is to locate them. And wanting to experience that again, this last Wednesday I made my way back to Highland County, and this time i was going later in the day so the sun would be more to my advantage as I intended to shoot more pictures.
If you compare the photos from my last blog entry, and these new photos you’ll notice the difference as the sun was higher in the sky then in my face. Needless to say I had a ball wandering the edge of these fields creeping up on these amazing birds.
One of the most challenging species of birds to identify by both beginner and expert alike are the Sparrows. For so many birders they’re no more than little brown birds that if you can’t identify right off or get a good view of, they just pass it by without making any kind of effort. I myself have been guilty of this in the past, but over the years I’ve grown to love these birds and to put more effort into this class of birds more than others. As a matter of fact one of my favorite field guides concerning Sparrows is “The Sparrows of the United States and Canada”, By James D. Rising and David D. Beadle.
According to the latest version of the Sibley App there are 38 Old and New World Sparrow species in North America. For myself, I have 26 on my current life list. And with the return of summer I always look forward to the return of a few of Sparrows we can find on the rural back country road of Ohio. Namely the Grasshopper and Henslow Sparrows.
Tracking down these birds took my last Friday to rural Highland County just south of Rocky Fork State Park. On a quite 1 lane country road I wandered as Henslow Sparrows sang from both sides of the road.
Ohio State University has a airport northwest of downtown Columbus close to the city of Dublin. Adjacent to the airport, and owned by the university, sits the Ohio State Equine Center. For the past several years Upland Sandpipers have called this home and raised their chicks in the grassy pastures. For myself this isn’t a life bird to add to my list. That moment came years ago during the spring migration close to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. It was a distant view even through my spotting scope as it foraged in a unplowed field. I did take a very poor quality photo, but the heat shimmer really distorted the final outcome.
So this last Monday Off I drove for the 90 minute drive to see if I could maybe get a better view and hopefully a decent photograph.
After arriving it took me about 20 to 30 minutes to locate not just one, but both Upland Sandpipers perched on top of the wooden fence posts. By this time the sun was full in the sky and the heat shimmer started. I moved around several times trying to get in a good location for any kind of photograph. However the birds really kept their distance, and after getting home and going over what pictures I had of them, this was probably the best one.
I’ve spent the last day and a half birding up along Lake Erie for the first time in 2 years. If you remember last year I camped in Daniel Boone national Forest at Red River Gorge checking out some of the breeding warblers in the area. Well this year I returned to Lake Erie, but for only a very short time. All told I probably spent a total of 14 hours birding. But in those 14 hours I either heard or saw a total of 85 birds with 24 of those being warblers, which I think is pretty respectable for the time allotted.
- Wilson’s warbler
- Yellow warbler
- Yellow-rumped warbler
- Blue-winged Warbler
- Common Yellowthroat
- Black-throated Green Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler
- Blackburnian Warbler
- Bay-breasted Warbler
- Canada Warbler
- American Redstart
- Mourning Warbler
- Cape May Warbler
- Nashville Warbler
- Tennessee Warbler
- Northern Parula
- Louisiana Waterthrush
- Prothonotary Warbler
- Magnolia Warbler
- Chestnut-sided Warbler
- Palm Warbler
- Black & White warbler
- Blackpoll Warbler
This trip I did come across a few surprise birds. At a new Toledo Metropark called Howard Marsh, for the second year in a row 2 Black-necked Stilts have taken up residence.
And at the same park I counted 3 Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
Granted these are a couple of great birds for this part of the country. And as much as i enjoyed watching them, the real surprise came the morning i was leaving to go home. I stopped one more time at Howard Marsh to see if the Black-necked Stilts were any closer for some better pictures, which they weren’t, so I drove off and decided at the last minute to check out Metzger Marsh, which is right next door.
I was pulling out my camera to take a shot of a Common Gallinule when I noticed a small bird in the tall grass right next to the road. A Least Bittern. In the past I’ve only had fleeting glimpses of these reclusive birds, however this time was different.
For several months now my wife and I have been planning our trip to Boston to visit our oldest son. All the details had to be covered, from airfare, to the Airbnb we we’re going to stay in, to side trips.
So one of our side trips was a 2 hour drive to Portland Maine to do your typical sightseeing. However one thing came under my radar about 2 weeks prior to our departure. It seems a Little Egret was sighted at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center just 5 minutes from downtown Portland. This is an exciting bird, and one I was hoping to seeing. So I started to watch the internet to make sure the bird was still being seen. And it was.
And even the day we were driving to Portland I called the gift shop to ask if the bird we there, and he told me as far as he knew it was even though no one confirmed it.
Gilsland Farm isn’t a huge place so checking out the area along the river wasn’t too much of an effort, however as much as I looked in all the spots where the bird was sighted on previous days, there was no bird now. This was disappointing.
Since we wanted to visit other places we had to leave without picking up this life bird. So we drove back into the city and parked the car, and started out. We were walking along Commercial Street looking at all the shops and restaurants, I couldn’t help but notice birds swimming between some of the wharfs. I hurried down and much to my surprise there were some Common Eiders. A new life bird! I didn’t bring my camera this trip so there are no pictures, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
So I may have dipped on the Little Egret, but not the Common Eider, so it wasn’t a total bust.