“On The Road”-December 11th, 2010

This road trip was different than previous road trips. Maybe it was the sense of the unknown that created this anxiety. Being a native son of Ohio, you would think that driving to new places wouldn’t phase you. I don’t think visiting new areas is what’s bothering me the most. It’s the traveling from one point to the next that has me worried. Rural Ohio, in parts of the state that I’ve never visited, can be rather difficult to navigate.

As the week wore on, and changes were made to the itinerary, John and myself were able to hammer out a solid plan. John had created a map on Google that was a great help in seeing the route we’re taking. I hate getting lost.  And with that said, I was able to curb my anxiety somewhat prior to us leaving. An added plus was that John had a GPS, which will be a great benefit for getting around.

Phil, John, and myself hit the road about 6:00 am and made good time to our first stop, Killdeer Plains Wilderness Area.

It was an uneventful drive to reach Killdeer Plains. The GPS was able to direct us to the exact spot that John  programed in. A Northern Shrike had been spotted in this area recently, and since neither of us had been there before, why not go.

One of the back roads to Killdeer. It was very cold and the wind was creating a nice wind chill.

Another view of the Killdeer Plains area. As you can see, there isn’t much up here except beautiful farmland. Being so flat doesn’t offer any wind block.

We found the area that we wanted to check out, however there was no sighting of the Shrike. We were able to spot some waterfowl on the only unfrozen  portion of the lake.

View of the frozen lake. The tree line in the background held several Bald Eagles.

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll be able to see a thin black line, right in front of the trees on the lake. That was the only opening of water on the lake that we could see. And the spot where I got my first life bird for the day, a Greater white-fronted Goose.

A view a little more Eastward .

A view of the causeway that separates the 2 lakes, with John in the foreground. This was the area the the Northern Shrike was reported in.

John and Phil as they strolled on the dike that separated the road from the lakes.

We didn’t linger too long at Killdeer, because we had to meet John’s father, David, who came down from Lansing Michigan to join up with us.  We were running a little behind as we left Killdeer, as we made our way to Findley Ohio to a place called Cascade Lake.

This isn’t your conventional lake. It’s a rather deep gravel quarry, hence the reason for no ice. It has steep sides almost all the way around except in a few spots where the Canada Geese were able to walk out.   This is the lake where we spotted my next life bird. A Cackling Goose.

After we left here, it was onto Bluffton Ohio to view the now famous Black-bellied Whistling Duck. It’s been hanging around a small lake called Buckeye Lake, right in the middle of town.

With all the chatter on Ohio Bird about this duck, I naturally thought this was going to be a easy sighting, then move on to the next stop. Oh how wrong we were. We found an unusual duck there, amongst the Canada Geese and Mallards. However upon all of us looking and consulting the field guides that were brought along, we just weren’t buying it. There might have been some field markings that would indict a BBWD to some people, but not to us. If in fact it was the same duck we were looking at that everyone else saw. We just don’t know. We were considering a immature BBWD, however John sent me a picture of one after I got home, and boy it sure is close. I may have to send of an e-mail to Ohio Bird for anyone who might have taken a picture of the duck to see if it’s the same duck we were looking at.

Leaving a little dissapointed, we made our way to the Bluelick Road exit off of I-75 to check out some ponds. There were 3 small ponds, and 1 was frozen over with some domestic ducks on it. The other 2 showed only some mallards and a few Canada Geese.

With the afternoon wearing on, we moved onto our last 3 stops. The first one was in Celina Ohio, to check out some recent sightings of Eurasian Collared Doves that have been hanging around a grain elevator in the heart of town. Other than a few Rock Doves, we struck out again. Onto Mercer Wildlife Area.

A view of a pond from an observation deck near the parking lot. Grand Lake St. Mary’s is in the background past the tree line.

A lone Great Blue Heron on a frozen pond. There is a huge Great Blue Heron rookery at this wildlife area near the lake. With the leaves off the trees, we were able to see their nests easily. As well as more Bald Eagles.  I really liked this area. It had the potential to offered more variety. Besides the thousands of Canada Geese there, we sighted a lone Sandhill Crane land. What a graceful bird. We all were able to add to our life list as we spotted a Ross’s Goose on the ground feeding amongst a bunch of Canada Geese. As we were leaving we saw one more fly in with a flight of Canada’s. It was unfortunate that we had leave. There was a gravel road that went towards the lake with more waterfowl. However with the day waning, we had one more stop to make, St. Mary’s Fish Hatchery.

There really wasn’t much here either, except some more Canada’s and Mallards and a Cackling Goose. After a quick buzz through here we decided to part company with John’s Father.

Phil posing by the bird-mobile.

After this great day, a parting shot of some Canadian Geese flying over to land in a corn field. I had such a great time with some special people. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Hopefully with less ice.

I made a map of the trip with every stop we made listed. However I can’t figure out how to insert in in the post or create a link for you to see it. Once I figure it out I will insert it here and let you know through an addendum.

Here is the list of the birds for the day.

  1. American Robin
  2. Common Crow
  3. Blue Jay
  4. Rock Dove
  5. Sharp Shinned/ Cooper’s Hawk ?
  6. Cooper’s Hawk
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. Mourning Dove
  9. Dark-eyed Junco
  10. Starling
  11. House Sparrow
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Tree Sparrow
  14. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  15. Northern Flicker
  16. Rough-legged Hawk
  17. Song Sparrow
  18. Hairy Woodpecker
  19. American Kestrel
  20. Mute Swan
  21. Bald Eagle
  22. Greater White-fronted Goose-Lifer
  23. Canada Goose
  24. Mallard
  25. Gray Catbird
  26. Merlin
  27. Trumpeter Swan
  28. Black Duck
  29. Ring-billed Gull
  30. American Coot
  31. American Wigeon
  32. Hooded Merganser
  33. Pied-billed Grebe
  34. Cackling Goose-Lifer
  35. Ruddy Duck
  36. Ring-necked Pheasant
  37. Downy Woodpecker
  38. White-breasted Nuthatch
  39. Carolina Chickadee
  40. Sandhill Crane
  41. Ross’s Goose-Lifer
  42. Eastern Meadowlark
  43. Northern Harrier

One response to ““On The Road”-December 11th, 2010

  1. Great road trip. Three lifers and Bald Eagles. Always good day with eagles. Good birding with you Les, John and David.

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