Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Birder’s Haiku


Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

A Crow flies away

A Dragonfly criss-crossess

Cawing Crows~

By Narayanan Raghunathan

Fernald Preserve/ 1-29-2011

Birding can be so very frustrating. Once again the Long-eared Owl was spotted out at Fernald Preserve for the last 2 days. So today I’m up bright and early to get a jump on everyone else, and drive out before the sun comes up. Running on caffeine and excitement I was let down again. No owl. I guess timing is everything. I’m wearing my lucky pants next time.

No use crying over spilled milk, I still had a fabulous time. The morning sun really was a welcome sight.

The expanse of Fernald Preserve is evident in this picture as I look North. You can’t tell by this picture, but this landscape is dotted by small ponds. It’s ideal for all the Raptor species found out here. Like this next picture.

This Northern Harrier just wouldn’t cooperate and turn around for the camera. I spend about 15 minutes creeping up on him, just to have him fly off after I took his picture.

This is the view behind the row of Evergreens that line the main entrance road. This is the area that the owl has been spotted.

A bad picture of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

The day wasn’t a complete bust though. I did a lot of parking and walking. I went to a couple of places that I’ve not been to before. Mostly in areas where there were large concentrations of Evergreens. Which is good habitat for owls.

Fernald was a busy place today because they were having a photography workshop today at the Visitor’s Center. They were expecting about 100 participants, not including the birders who were visiting the preserve.

If you look closely you’ll see another Northern Harrier atop of the bird house. The preserve has quite a few different types of bird houses throughout the area, and Harriers find them the perfect perch.

As I was making my way back to the bird-mobile I noticed a small tree still holding onto it’s leaves. I particularly liked the contrast between the brown of the leaves and the frost on the edges.

Even thought I didn’t find my nemesis bird, I still had a excellent time. I even meet up with Brian and Gale Wulker, who I haven’t seen since Spring. Brian was up from Morehead State for the weekend just to find the owl as well. Better luck next time.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Gadwall
  3. Mallard
  4. Canvasback
  5. Ring-necked Duck
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Common Crow
  8. Northern Mockingbird
  9. White-throated Sparrow
  10. Song Sparrow
  11. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Carolina Wren
  14. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  15. Blue Jay
  16. American Robin
  17. American Kestrel
  18. Red-tailed Hawk
  19. Northern Harrier

Spring Fever

I’ve got a head cold. Or should I say I’m recovering from a head cold. I can always tell when a cold is coming on, I get this sore throat which starts in the roof of my mouth. After the sore throat goes away, then the head cold starts. Then the inevitable missed days of work. During the 2 days I was home, I came to the conclusion that having a head cold  was in direct relation to my writers block.

So what does this have to do with spring fever? Well since I was home with writers block, I watched a little TV. And what I watched was the a golf tournament from La Jolla, California. The sun was shining. People were wearing shorts. It was real green. And it was on the ocean. I’ve never been to California, but I bet they have some great birds out there, I thought to myself. It kind of makes your heart ache a little.

Then it came in the mail today. I’ve been waiting for this book for about a month now. It’s been on back order they said. However it put a smile on my none the less.

Nothing in nature says Spring to me more than Daffodils and Warblers. This guide was a present to myself because I had a Borders’ gift card that I received as a gift during the holidays. It’s not a very large book so it will fit nicely in my bird/camera bag. And since it’s a book by the Stokes, the photography is exceptional. I hope this book is up to the challenge, and a little tough love in the field.

With 50 days till the 1st day of Spring, needless to say I’m a little anxious. Don’t take me wrong, I really don’t mind Winter. However I love Spring.

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Fly with silent wing

Through the moons

Soft glow casting

Notes From The Field/Fernald Preserve


With all the recent excitement of the sighting of a Long-eared Owl at Fernald Preserve this past few days, I couldn’t stand it any longer and drove out after work today. With the tragic news of the passing of a good friend from work, I really needed to get out and clear my mind. My thoughts have been with her all day, and I took those good thoughts with me as I meet up with friends Allan Claybon, and John Marvin.

When I arrived I could see Allan driving up the entrance road very slowly scanning the trees for the Owl. Neither he nor I had any luck in finding the owl. However we did find the area where he was seen. There is a small group of Pine trees near the entrance. Under one of the trees we found quite a lot of owl pellets.

We noticed that the first pond wasn’t frozen all the way over so we drove down to see what kind of waterfowl was there.

Left side of the pond from the observation area.

You can see the edge of the ice as you look towards the right side of the pond from the observation area.

I like this picture of a Mute Swan with the contrasting grass in the foreground.

We saw a lot of this while we were out there.

I guess I spent about 1 hour at Fernald. It was very cold and I wasn’t dressed for the weather. So I retreated to the warmth of the Bird-Mobile and headed home for a hot bowl of Chili.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Harrier
  2. Eastern Bluebird
  3. American Goldfinch
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Ring-necked Duck
  6. Green-winged Teal
  7. Northern Pintail
  8. Gadwall
  9. Mallard
  10. Canvasback

Notes From The Field/ Mitchell Memorial Forest

The local Audubon Society organized today’s Winter walk, and I was certainly looking forward to it. Being my first group field trip of the year, I just really love hiking in the woods on a cold day. Call me insane, I don’t care. Mitchell Memorial Forest was our destination.

I arrived a little before 8 am, and meet up with the trip leader and a couple of other people I recognized from previous trips. All told we had about 13 people with us. Which is a pretty good crowd considering it being Winter and a Sunday morning.

A portion of the group scoping out the Evergreens, which were plentiful, for Winter birds.

Small stone shelter at the overlook.

View of the Great Miami River from the stone shelter house.

I had never been to Mitchell Memorial Forest before, so I was certainly impressed with the park. It wasn’t nearly as developed as Winton Woods, or Sharon Woods, which is kind of nice. Since there isn’t a lot of man-made attractions, it keeps the park a little more pristine. There are picnic areas, and some nice trails which extend back into the woods. There’s even a Mountain Bike Trail for those who enjoy 2 wheel adventure.

One of the hiking trails. It’s so quiet that the only sound you here is the crunch of the snow beneath your feet.

Typical view of the snow covered forest floor.

The park had 2 bird feeders stocked with feed and they were the hot spot for all the woodland birds. I can’t remember seeing so many Dark-eyed Junco’s in one day. And Cardinals were definitely in abundance. As you can tell by the only bird picture I took, there were some Mourning Doves feeding on the ground. Some day I’ll get better taking pictures.

However the best surprise for the day wasn’t my new life bird, it was the amount of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’s there were. I counted at least 7 different birds. For me, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them. It re-news your faith in the health of the forest.

Having been so cold for such a long time now, even the small pond at the park was frozen over.

We re-grouped and then proceeded onto another trail which would lead us into a different part of the park. This was the trail that produced so many sapsuckers. There was a small frozen over pond in the back which I’m sure supports some Wood Ducks when the weather is a little more favorable. Hence the name, Wood Duck Trail.

It was a nice loop trail, which had the only running water on it. A small stream which lead down to the small frozen pond. They had built a dam to create the pond, and the spillway had frozen water all over the down stream side.

It would be interesting to see how many animals come to drink from this spot. This was the only water in liquid form we found.

After we returned to the parking lot from this portion of the hike, I had decided to take a side trip over to Lost Bridge to see if anything was happening. There is a gravel pit over there that is owned by Martin-Marietta, and from what everyone says, they don’t take kindly to trespassers. So I parked by the side of the road and stood by the fence and peered in. WOW. Enormous amounts of Canada Geese and Mallards. However, what I was looking for I found. My Common Merganser. Number 365. For a bird with “Common” in it’s name you would think that it’s fairly common. Don’t be fooled. It seems like I’ve been searching for the bird forever. I also had some great side by side comparison of 2 Cackling Geese. Unfortunately I forgot my camera  to record the sight of all those geese. It was a great day though, and whenever I get a new life bird, it’s a happy day.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Dark-eyed Junco
  2. Northern Cardinal
  3. Common Crow
  4. Red-shouldered Hawk
  5. Downy Woodpecker
  6. Carolina Chickadee
  7. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  8. House Finch
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. American Robin
  11. White-breasted Nuthatch
  12. White-throated Sparrow
  13. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  14. Mourning Dove
  15. Northern Mockingbird
  16. Brown Creeper
  17. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  18. Hairy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Eastern Towhee
  21. Mallard
  22. Canada Goose
  23. Cackling Goose
  24. Northern Pintail
  25. Common Merganser-Lifer