Monthly Archives: March 2011

Notes From The Field

Well today is day 2 for Ethan’s film workshop, and Kathy is still cramming for finals tomorrow night. Gosh, with all this activity going on around me, I guess I’ll have to birding again. So let’s go someplace I’ve not been to in a while.

I had some pretty good luck at Winton Woods in the past, and granted it’s a wee bit early for warblers, I do know that Pine Warblers are starting to show up, and there’s a part of the park that is great for Pine Warblers. However my first stop will be at the settling pond over by the dam. I’ve not been there since they gated off the access road that goes all the way around. The park district did this to protect migrating and nesting birds. It seems that people took advantage of it being open and with too many people and pets it made for a  bad situation. So this is a good thing.

There were quite a few ducks in the settling pond. I came away with 7 different species. This place can be either hit or miss when it comes to waterfowl.

So if you do a 180 from where you stand looking out over the pond, you can look down into this small, depression with a trail running around. There were also a lot of little birds playing around just begging me to come explore. So I did.

It’s a rather boggy and wet area. Lots of little sky ponds, with some tall vegetation throughout, and this place has the potential to produce some bird species. Especially when the peeps and waders start to make their way back. I noticed that someone places several bat houses around the perimeter. I would assume that it gets kind of buggy here. On to the dam.

One thing I did notice while I was here, was a Bluebird searching among the rocks at the bottom of the dam. After my stop over here, It was onto my next stop, the Par Course Trail.

So while I was driving to the Par Course Trail, I was on Sharon Road going towards Winton Road. When out of the corner of my left eye I noticed a chevron shaped flight of birds. Good thing there wasn’t much traffic, because when I looked again I saw 30 Sandhill Cranes crossing Sharon Road in front of me. I pulled over quickly and got off a couple of shots.

I drove on down to a church parking lot where I noticed the flock split into 2.  I was able to take one more picture before they flew off. This really got the blood flowing.

The Par Course Trail is tucked back into Winton Woods kind of off the beaten path. There’s not much back there. A Frisbee Golf Course, and a baseball field and a all purpose field that today was being used by a group of people playing Ultimate Frisbee. For me I just wanted to hit the woods.

The trail is nice and wide with gravel covering the surface. It gets a little too  crunchy for me, especially when you’re listening for birds. However where I want to go the trail is softened up by pine needles and leaves. And with the recent rainfall the ground is still moist. I’m looking for this tall stand of Pine trees which tower above everything else in the woods.

The trail comes to a point where several trails meet. And a small stream flows in from the right to go under the trail.

This portion of the trail goes off to the right, and up into those tall pines you can see in the distance.

You can tell by this picture just how tall the trees are in this area.

The atmosphere was surreal in this section of the woods. It was almost too quiet, with very little noise except for some traffic on a nearby road. With the ground being soft under foot, you never heard your own footsteps. This would be a great place to walk in the middle of the night on a full moon.

For my final stop, Kingfisher Trail. How can a birder not go birding on a trail named after a bird.

The trail starts out running parallel to Kingfisher Stream, and then leaves the stream bottom to climb up and into the woods that divides the trail into two. However since time is running out on me I only do half of the trail.

Ma and Pa Mallard

Closer look at Pa.

A nice parting shot of Kingfisher Stream with the trail running along side of it. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I leave the park, the sun starts to come out. I guess my sunny day was yesterday.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Ruddy Duck
  3. Coot
  4. Greater Scaup
  5. Ring-necked Duck
  6. Gadwall
  7. American Wigeon
  8. Mallard
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. Red-winged Black Bird
  11. White-throated Sparrow
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Carolina Chickadee
  14. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  15. American Robin
  16. Cooper’s Hawk
  17. Blue Jay
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Tufted Titmouse
  21. Sandhill Crane
  22. Northern Mockingbird
  23. Northern Cardinal
  24. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  25. White-breasted Nuthatch
  26. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  27. Dark-eyed Junco
  28. Turkey Vulture
  29. Pileated Woodpecker

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Storm clouds

The cry of the Shearwater

Circles the sky

Notes From The Field

With the promise of a beautiful day and sunny skies you could hardly blame a person for being outside for most of the day. And considering the amount of people I meet today they to had the same idea. So without further delay it was off to do some birding.

My youngest son, Ethan had a film workshop today that was going to last for several hours, so this gave me an opportunity to go to a couple of parks that I’ve not been to in a long time. The first one was Glenwood Gardens, which is a park in the Hamilton County Parks District.

I arrived a little past 10:00 am and immediately started to bird. I spotted a Mockingbird and took a pretty terrible picture of it.

Glenwood Gardens is first and foremost a garden, and with Spring right around the corner you could really notice how plants and flowers were starting to green up, and ready to bloom.

A bed of Daffodils

I really wasn’t planning on having the water tower in the picture with the gazebo.

After you pass through the carriage house, you are greeted with this great view of the park.

Normally this quiet little stream is just that, however with all the rain it has turned into rather a torrent of water. Very fast moving and deep. And in the midst of it all sits this Mallard asleep. Or maybe just resting.

It was a very windy day, and it seemed that the variety of birds was low. I worked the park pretty good considering I had only about 90  minutes before I had to get back for lunch with Ethan.

I came upon an area that the park district was working to create a grassland/wetlands. They had constructed some berms to hold back water to catch water and form sky pools.

There were several small sky pool like this scattered throughout the area. Unfortunately there were hardly any birds. Granted this is a city park, however one would think that this might attract a good variety. It maybe a little early in the season.

I did notice some Mallards fly into this area and when I went to investigate, I noticed this really large sky pool which held a few Mallard Drakes trying to catch the attention of a Mallard Hen.

A better view of the pond.

One of the reasons I went to Glenwood Gardens was to catch a Eastern Screech Owl. It has been my nemesis bird for some time now. And Glenwood Gardens has been a hotspot for them for some time. My friend Paul recommends this place, and with all the owl boxes this place has I’m really surprised I was skunked again.

Another empty owl box.

With time running out, it was time to head back to the bird-mobile and pick up Ethan. Then I noticed that some of the early flowers were blooming in spots. So as a nice reminder to my readers, that yes Spring is right around the corner.

A Daffodil in bloom on March 12th.

One of several small clumps of Daffodils I found throughout the park.

Notable birds for this park include:

  1. American Robin
  2. Song Sparrow
  3. Carolina Wren
  4. Red-tailed Hawk
  5. Northern Mockingbird
  6. Northern Cardinal
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Mallard
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  10. Tufted Titmouse
  11. Purple Finch
  12. Carolina Chickadee
  13. Turkey Vulture

After lunch I still had a couple of hours to kill, so what better way to kill a few hours then to go somewhere else to go birding. It’s like hitting the daily double at the track. Huuuuummmmm, where to go. How about my old neighborhood. French Park. Growing up in Pleasant Ridge this was one of my favorite parks to go to as a kid. It’s been a long since I’ve been here, and there has been reports recently of Screech Owls here.

This park was once a private residence, with a large home and lots of acreage. It has a extensive trail system throughout and several shelters for people to use. The house can be reserved for special occasions like weddings. Hopefully I’ll have better luck here.

The trails were pretty much like this. They were well marked and I took with me a map that I downloaded from the Hamilton County Parks web site. Here it wasn’t much different, with stiff winds and they constant companion of mud. The trails were really holding the water and it didn’t take long for my boots to take on that brown oozy color.

This is one of several small streams that criss-cross the park.

I found some small patches of Snow Drops and some other low growing yellow flower.

I pretty much stayed to the outer trails. I wanted to circumnavigate the park. So when I came to a fork in the trail I kept to the left and it wound and wound on for a long time.

Even when you think you’re in the middle of nowhere, you look up an notice a cell tower looming overhead. Needless to say I had plenty of bars. What and eyesore.

I love the fungus that grows on fallen trees.

And the trail keeps on winding on and on.

Along the way I would stop and listen, however with the wind howling through the trees, it was difficult to pick out the little ones calls. However I was able to pick out my Eastern Screech Owl. Big Time Score for me! Number 267

About half way through the my hike the trail takes a drop down and opens up to this beautiful valley with a sparkling stream flowing through. I could have stayed down here for hours it was that restful and tranquil.

Pictures can’t pay it justice, for how nice it was in the area. I did have to move along, so my visit here was short but long remembered. And just when it couldn’t get any better, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eyes and noticed a butterfly going by. I couldn’t believe it, butterflies, this early. I’m not an expert on them, but I certainly hope they have someplace to go when it gets cold. Remember it’s still March.

I’ll put a name to this beautiful creature as soon as I can. After further review, I think that this butterfly is a Grey Coma. Now if there is anyone out there that knows what this might be, just drop me a line in the comments section at the end of the post.

Upon closer inspection you might notice that there is a rivulet flowing down the middle of the trail. Lovely stuff to walk through.

After I leave this area the trail starts  to drop down to Section Road and that’s when it really starts to get muddy. It totally envelopes you and your footwear. This makes birding difficult. When you spend more of your time watching the footing and not the birds, then it isn’t fun anymore. Time to get out of the woods. So when I break free of the trees, this is what I’m greeted with.

French House

Across the front lawn and through some rather tall grass with a path mowed into it, and I’m back at the bird-mobile for the drive to pick up Ethan.

Another fantastic afternoon of birding. I did have better luck here than at Glenwood Gardens. Notable birds for this trip include:

  1. American Goldfinch
  2. White-breasted Nuthatch
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Cooper’s Hawk
  5. Tufted Titmouse
  6. Carolina Chickadee
  7. American Robin
  8. Grackle
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  12. Brown Creeper
  13. House Finch
  15. Song Sparrow
  16. Northern Flicker
  17. Northern Cardinal
  18. White-throated Sparrow
  19. Pileated Woodpecker
  20. Carolina Wren
  21. Red-winded Black Bird

Notes From The Field/Caesar Creek

I really wasn’t expecting to go birding this weekend, what with the crappy weather on Saturday, and Kathy wanting to see how long it takes to drive to U.C. Clermont. So when I asked her when she wanted to go, she said, how about next weekend. Well throw on  some clothes and grab your gear because I’m out the door.

I had a good feeling that Caesar Creek was going to be ice free, since the last time I was there. And I wasn’t disappointed. Well it may have been ice free, however the lake was really full. All this rain has raised the level to places I’ve not seen before.

This is a picture of the end of Harveysburg Road. Normally there is a 5 foot drop off from the end of the road. And about 10 feet of beach till you reach the water. Enough for a duck blind fit. Well today the water was right to the end of the road. This is where I spotted the bird for the day. 2 Eared Grebes. They were swimming with 6 Horned Grebes and a Red Head, so the side by side comparison was so helpful. After this great find I could have gone home and called it a successful trip. But not so fast.

2 Canadian Geese swimming back towards Merganser Bay, from the end of Harveysburg Road.

From there I drove over to North Pool and Furnas Shore boat ramps. Since they’re almost directly across from each other on Rt. 73 it doesn’t take me long to scope out both locations. After I left here it was onto the Visitors Center to see if the feeders were busy.

On the drive over to the Visitor’s Center, a Turkey Vulture took a moment from dining on some fresh road kill to pose for this photo.

This is the new expansion on the Visitor’s Center. I meet Rebecca who was on duty at the desk and informed her of the Eared Grebes. We started to talk about the expansion and she asked if i wanted to take a tour. With several offices and a conference room, the highlight was the large room at the far right side. The perfect spot to hold a Merit badge workshop. I asked her about the prospect of doing a Bird Study workshop there, and she told me it would be a problem. Score! Even though we’re doing this years merit badge at Fernald Preserve, we want to leave our options open. Maybe next year, and then rotate it around.

My next stop on the day was someplace I’ve not been to before. The Nature Center. It’s over by the Pioneer Village tucked away among some tall pines.

The area held a few ponds, which produced a couple of Wood Ducks, along with a very nice trail system which runs back into the woods and gives some nice views of the lake.

The trails aren’t very long, and they’re well marked.

A view of the lake from the trail.

Even with a dusting of snow this morning, and the bite of Winter still upon us, the signs of Spring are certainly a bright spot. As evident by these Daffodils.

A clump of Spring Snow Drops just about ready to bloom. Who would of thought that we could have flowers this early in March.

Despite the dreary sky and the cold wind blowing off the lake, this was a wonderful day all in all. I had a decent number of birds for the day and seeing the Lilies of the Valley within days of blooming was enough for me. And while I was leaving I was able to catch an American Kestrel that let me get somewhat close to him.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Dark-eyed Junco
  2. Common Crow
  3. Northern Mockingbird
  4. Downy Woodpecker
  5. Northern cardinal
  6. Grackle
  7. Turkey Vulture
  8. Carolina Wren
  9. American Robin
  10. Blue Jay
  11. Canada Goose
  12. Bonaparte’s Gull
  13. Horned Grebe
  14. Red Head
  15. Eared Grebe
  16. Red-shouldered Hawk
  17. White-crowned Sparrow
  18. Hooded Merganser
  19. Ring-billed Gull
  20. Ring-ed Neck Duck
  21. Red-tailed Hawk
  22. Killdeer
  23. Gold Finch
  24. White-breasted Nuthatch
  25. Carolina Chickadee
  26. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  27. Tufted Titmouse
  28. Mourning Dove
  29. Pigeon
  30. Eastern Bluebird
  31. American Kestrel
  32. Cooper’s Hawk
  33. Wood Duck
  34. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  35. Belted Kingfisher
  36. Hairy Woodpecker
  37. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  38. White-throated Sparrow
  39. Brown Creeper
  40. House Finch
  41. Purple Finch

P.S. Thanks to my sharp eyed reader Tonya for the correction on the Lilies of the Valley to Spring Snow Drops. Where I lack in identifying wild flowers I try to make up in bird identifying. Anyway you look at it, seeing flowers ready to bloom after a long Winter is like they say, a breath of Spring.

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Twin rainbows

Loft the golden sky

Cranes rest on Spring waters

By: Narayanan Raghunathan