Notes From The Field

The Eared Grebe ( Podiceps nigricollis ) is a fairly common bird west of the Mississippi River, however on an annual basis we here in Ohio will have a stray show up. And as usual birders start showing up as well to tick this difficult bird off their “Year List”. For myself I don’t keep “Year Lists” but I do enjoy putting the old bins om this bird and maybe getting a decent photograph.

The bird was located at Eastwood Metro Park in the heart of Dayton Ohio. I’ve visited this park in the past and it’s not too far away, about 45 minutes.  Before I made up my mind to go I consulted one of my favorite books, “Identify Yourself, The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges” In it there’s a really good section on Grebes.

This time of year Eared Grebes are usually seen either by themselves or with another, mixed in with Horned Grebes. And if they’re actively feeding just keeping up with them so you can get a positive ID can prove difficult. To quote from the book “The most useful differences between Horned and Eared Grebes in non-breeding plummage are the pattern of the head and throat and the size and shape of the bill”.

With that in mind, off I went. I arrived before the park even opened as well as some other birders. Besides the Eared Grebe there were reports of a Red-throated Loon. Well no Red-throated Loon was spotted, however the Eared Grebe was there.

What I love about the above photograph is that you can really see the slight upturned bill, which is a great identifier for Eared Grebe.

After searching this side of the lake for the Loon with no luck, I drove down to the to search, with no luck. As I started to drive back once again I noticed this birder taking pictures at a Common Loon really close to these docks by the boat launch area. I pulled over and parked and grabbed my camera.

In all my years of birding I’ve never been this close to a Common Loon, or any Loon for that matter. It had to of known we were there, but were no threat because it just kept feeding as I snapped off picture after picture.

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“On The Road” (For a Lifer)

Facebook has been under the microscope lately, what with all the security, and privacy issues surrounding what is probably the most visited App. on everyone’s smart phone. Myself included. A day doesn’t go by where I’m not checking any or all the 7 birding related groups I belong to. For us in the birding community rare and unusual sightings are just a few clicks away…with photos!

And when a rarity does show up and either posted on your local Listserv or Facebook, birders will flock to the bird. (No pun intended)

Case in point, Tuesday evening posting on Ohio Chase Birds page, copied from the Bobolink Area of Ohio page, of a male Cinnamon Teal at Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area. Situated south of Wooster and north of Millersburg, this is an area of Ohio I’ve never visited before, but as a birder what I have heard is this area is great for birders.

Wednesday came and the Teal was still showing well and birders were able to get some great diagnostic photographs. After seeing the pictures that gnawing feeling came over me. Do I chase, or not? I totally missed this bird on my trip out west, and not knowing when I’ll ever get back, I made up my mind after conversing with Jon about it. Reports were still coming in up through the evening that the bird was still there.

So if the bird stayed through the evening, and I get an early start, there’s a good chance of getting the bird. I made up my mind to go.

According to The Birds Of Ohio, by Bruce Peterjohn, there have only been 8 other sightings of the species in Ohio, with the last one at Spring Valley in 1996. And if you look at this range map you’ll see why this is an important bird.

I figured the drive would take about 3 hours and with a couple of pit stops along the way I was pretty much on time. It was at my last pit stop when I checked Facebook one last time to see if the Teal was seen this morning. And it was.

Since there was no address to enter into my GPS, I had to follow it as far as it would take me, then I had to rely on my GPS in my phone to get me to the viewing sight.

The road dead ended at a small parking lot and a vast marsh. And just 100 yards away, following a female Blue-winged Teal, and chasing of his competition, was this magnificent, incredibly colored Cinnamon Teal

I’m only going to show this one photograph. The others were very poor in quality. Distance, poor visibility with low fog, and rain made conditions for photography difficult.

Anyway, there he is. What a bird!

Notes From The Field

We all know that “Life” can certainly get in the way of some of our favorite past times, and I’m no exception. My first Grand Child was born and visiting with    him up in Michigan does cut into birding time. Then I was sick with Walking Pneumonia, which took several weeks to finally get over.

Our last child moved out of the house to Georgia and I had to help with that move. My wife and myself had some minor surgical procedures that cut into any birding time available. And when I did go birding it was usually up to Caesar Creek State Park to scan for ducks.

WHEW, I’m exhausted, and in  need of Spring.

So for the past week Pine Warblers have taken up residence at Mitchell Memorial Forest and with it being such a beautiful day I had to take off to check it out.

Pine Warblers are some of the first warblers that show up in the Spring. In the past I’ve had reasonable luck with locating them, but when they’re consistently in one location I’m all over it, especially since I don’t have any pictures of one.

After arriving it didn’t take long to locate one. All I had to do was listen for a song very similar to a Chipping Sparrow, but sweeter.

 Sometimes all we’re going to get is a shot like this, from below, however diagnostic of the species.

Then one of these little beauties flew in a small tree that was just beginning to flower about 20 feet away. Holy cow, how lucky can one get!

 

Notes From The Field

Grand Valley Preserve

Jon and myself only had a couple of hours of birding yesterday so we didn’t want to squander any minute. We first went to Grand Valley to check on the ducks. As it turns out this preserve which in the past has held vast numbers of birds was totally void. Granted there was some ice covering the lake, however there was enough open water for something.

I wonder if these 2 Bald Eagles had anything to do with this?

Views From A Window

Well it finally looks like the Ohio Valley is in for a nice warm up this coming week, however with this warm up we usually get some rain. It was during this deep freeze we were experiencing I was only able to go birding a couple of times. For the most lakes and ponds were still frozen over and finding any waterfowl proved to be pretty difficult.

As is the case when it becomes really cold, my feeders were very busy. So I kept my camera close at hand, and whenever the feeders started to draw a lot of birds I would sneak into the dining room and snap a few shots of my visitors.

Nothing unusual, just your normal feeder birds. But it’s so satisfying.

 Eastern Towhee

Northern Cardinal

 

Dark-eyed Junco

White-throated Sparrow

Tufted Titmouse

Blue Jay

Female Northern Cardinal

Eastern Bluebird

Yes, I’m still Alive….Barely

As the title implies it has been a pretty rough 4 weeks for myself. A series of events have kept me sidelined from doing what I enjoy the most. And now that the month has settled down I hope to get back to doing some birding.

First let’s start with the good news. I’m a Grandfather. My daughter delivered a 8 lb 2 oz baby boy named Graham and we’re all very happy. For myself it was kind of bitter sweet since at the time of the delivery I was laid up with walking pneumonia. I felt so bad there was no way for me to make the 4 hour drive to Detroit. So my wife went and kept me up to date. And for the pneumonia, it’s been hanging on now for a little over 3 weeks. Needless to say I’m really tired of it.

On Christmas Eve, still feeling ill from the pneumonia, I had to check out one of our down spouts on the house. I thought it had been clogged with leaves and it really needed to be cleared out. A simple task that should only take a few minutes. I live in a ranch house so I wasn’t up on the ladder very far when the whole thing slid out from under me taking me to the ground, hitting really hard. Fortunately there were no broken bones but I’ve been sore. My left arm is still sore and it’s been a couple weeks since the accident.

Oh, and let’s not forget the holidays. We were real busy as I’m sure everyone was.

So today I told myself I’m going out to do a little birding. Armleder Park is hosting a Snow Bunting and some Lapland Longspurs mixed in with a small flock of Horned Larks.

 Lapland Longspur

Snow Bunting with Lapland Longspur