Notes From The Field/Caesar Creek and Beyond

Waking up with a start from a deep sleep, I jumped out of bed at 8:30 with the need to go birding. I really didn’t have any set plans on where I was going till I got up. Let’s keep it local and go to Caesar Creek to see how much it’s still iced over. Grabbing my gear and the breakfast of birders, coffee and chocolate doughnuts, I’m on the road. First stop my favorite location. Harverysburg Road.

As you might assume, it’s still frozen over.

Even Merganser Bay was still frozen over.

You know how people will always look up to look at an airplane as it flies over. For me, I’ll always look up when Canadian Geese fly over.

After I left Harveysburg Road I went over to the beach and North Pool boat ramp area. Other than a few Geese sliding into the water from the ice, as the next picture shows. The only other item worth mentioning was all the duck decoys still left over from hunting season.

Since there was nothing happening here, it was time to go to the Visitors Center to check out there feeders. They usually keep the feeders stocked, to we will get some good birds here from time to time. I meet up with a couple of photographers taking some bird photos. They weren’t very good when it came to bird ID’ing, nor am I any good when it came to photography. However while we were there we did find some fabulous stuff. Here are some of the bird highlights.

Poor image of a Dark-eyed Junco

White-breasted Nuthatch

Female Purple Finch

A closer image of the Female Purple Finch

For me this was the picture of the day. A Male Purple Finch. He looks like he was dipped into Raspberry Sauce. There was another male as well, but not as purple as this one was.

The suet really draws the woodpeckers, like this female Downy Woodpecker.

Another Female Downy Woodpecker.(NOTE: If you click on this picture it will enlarge, and if you put the cursor over the woodpecker and click again, it will enlarge enough to see that the female woodpecker has a band on it’s left leg.)

The highlight of my time spent at the Visitors Center was what happened next. I kept hearing a hawk crying deep in the woods by the overlook area. I heard this a couple of times, however when I went to look I couldn’t locate anything. Except the last time. I noticed movement in the trees about 50 yards away pretty much at eye level to where I was. Well it wasn’t just one hawk, it was two hawks, or should I say two Red-shouldered Hawks. The best part was that they were mating. Which would explain the commotion that was going on before. Even thought he mating didn’t last very long, I did call these 2 photographers over to have them take some pictures while the the 2 love birds perched, glowing in the aftermath. For me, I felt like a voyeur. It’s not everyday you see something like this. Shortly there after you could see them soaring above us as they flew away. Unfortunately, no pictures.

Next stop was the nearby nature preserve area. This place was also quiet when it came to birds.

Observation tower in the nature preserve area.

There were a couple of ponds in the area that weren’t iced over. Even with no ice, there was no waterfowl present in either pond.

I’ve always wanted to check this area near the Visitor’s Center which is an open field with long grass, with some Evergreens running along one side.

Other than a handful of Northern Cardinals kicking up the leaves in the under-brush and a few Song Sparrows flitting around the long grass, nothing too unusual. Next stop was Caesar Creek Gorge Nature Preserve.

But first a Turkey Vulture licking it’s feathers after munching down on some rancid Deer meat.

It’s was Spring last year that brought me here. And my first Prairie Warbler. This time I don’t know what to expect. This is a rather secluded preserve with a well marked loop trail which is a nice hike. There is a little bit of up and down terrain, but nothing a normal person couldn’t navigate. The water that flows out of Caesar Creek Lake flows through here. Considering the steep embankments that run along the river’s edge, it’s no wonder that this area is prone to flooding. However today, the river is running at normal levels and the trail is manageable.

The trail as it winds through the forest.

The many textures you might come across as you wander the woods.

Bird life was a little sparse here as well except for the woodpeckers. Here I noticed 4 different species of woodpeckers, which is self-evident by the next picture. I saw a number of these as I hike through the woods.

The river starts to widen as you progress along the trail.

By this picture you can tell how this preserve gets it’s name.

A neatly stacked pile of river rock someone had constructed. It reminds me of when Kathy and myself went to Mackinac Island. As you travel around the island you would see stacks of rocks were visitors would leave there own little monuments.

The long walk home. And as my last surprise for the day a Great Horned Owl called. Very unusual to hear during the light of the day.

I really was a wonderful day. Even though I spent a little too much time outside, the time spent in nature will help ground you, as you go into the coming week. Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Common Crow
  2. Tufted Titmouse
  3. Carolina Chickadee
  4. Eastern Bluebird
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Pigeon
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  11. Dark-eyed Junco
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Red-shouldered Hawk
  14. Ring-billed Gull
  15. Common Grackle
  16. American Gold Finch
  17. Purple Finch
  18. White-breasted Nuthatch
  19. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  20. American Kestrel
  21. Song Sparrow
  22. Hairy Woodpecker
  23. Pileated Woodpecker
  24. Great Horned Owl
  25. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  26. Red-tailed Hawk

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