Notes From The Field

Miami Whitewater Forest/Shaker Trace Wetlands & Fernald Preserve

It was a cool morning as I headed out to go birding. I left home about 6:00 am in hopes to make it to Shaker Trace Wetlands at Miami Whitewater Forest before Sunrise. With light traffic on both I-71 and I-275, I made exceptional time getting there. However the Sun was up further than I would have liked, and it was starting to bake the back of my neck as I made my way towards the area where a Least Bittern had been spotted a month ago. Last week Jonathan reaffirmed that a Least Bittern was seen in an area that has the unusual name of the “Bat House”. What I found out was that it was a structure that the Boy Scouts constructed and I guess bats have a tendency to hang out there. There’s not much to the structure now. Cattails grow inside, and you couldn’t stand in it even if you wanted to. With the amount of rain we’ve had, the wetlands have taken over what might have been dry ground under the shelter.

A couple views of this vast expanse of wetlands.

One of my intentions today was to do a little more digiscoping. And one thing I’ve found out when using a point-n-shoot digital camera without a viewfinder is that I’m having a difficult time focusing on the subject. Trying to look at the subject with only a LCD screen, and focus where the image is sharp is starting to frustrate me. Since I use the focus knob on my spotting scope to focus the image, to have the option to look through a view finder would increase the quality of my pictures greatly.

These banks Swallows are easily identifiable by the dark V-shape necklace across the breast.

Next to the Least Bittern, a Yellow-breasted Chat was by far the most entertaining, and hardest to get a picture of. At one point as I looked through my spotting scope, a Common Yellowthroat and the Chat were next to each other. But lo how my heart sank when I couldn’t get the shot off. Nor could I get a picture of the Chat. I truly believe if I had a DSLR I wouldn’t miss some of these shots.

Common Yellowthroat

The Least Bittern was a real treat. A birding acquaintance spotted the Bittern just last month in this location I was heading to, by the Bat House. I took my I-Pod in hopes to get it to call. On 2 occasions I heard faint calls that I believe was the Bittern. As I was about to turn back and head down the trail, the Bittern flew across the trail from one side to the next, and then disappeared into the cattails. I guess that’s all I get, but it was enough to add this bird to my Life List.

After spending over 2 hours there,  I then back tracked to Fernald Preserve.

My hopes here were the same. Get some good pictures. I wanted to get some shots of Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissels. The last time I was here was during the Audubon Society field trip, and those 2 species were very active. However during the drive back to the Welcome Center I noticed a Belted Kingfisher posing for me.

The group leader for the field trip was a guy by the name of Paul Wharton. And it just so happens that he was out at Fernald today as well. So I hooked up with him as we did a little but of birding before we left. The Dickcissels were very cooperative when it came to holding still for their picture. I did get a few pretty good shots, but none of the detail that I’m looking for.

Male Dickcissel belting out a tune.

All told I spent about 4 hours total at both places, and had a marvelous time despite the fact that it’s the Summer Doldrums. If given more time I would have added several more birds to this list.

So without further delay, here are the notable birds for the day:

  1. Eastern Wood Pewee
  2. American Robin
  3. Common Yellowthroat
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Mute Swan
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Carolina Wren
  8. Eastern Goldfinch
  9. Chimney Swift
  10. Tufted Titmouse
  11. Song Sparrow
  12. Red-winged Blackbird
  13. Field Sparrow
  14. White-breasted Nuthatch
  15. Gray Catbird
  16. Carolina Chickadee
  18. Indigo Bunting
  19. Barn Swallow
  20. Bank Swallow
  21. Willow Flycatcher
  22. Great Blue Heron
  23. Green Heron
  24. Mallard
  25. Northern Flicker
  26. Yellow-breasted Chat
  27. Purple Martin
  28. Dickcissel
  29. Grasshopper Sparrow
  30. Turkey Vulture
  31. Brown-headed Cowbird
  32. Eastern Towhee
  33. Downy Woodpecker
  34. Northern Mockingbird
  35. Killdeer
  36. Chipping Sparrow
  37. Yellow-throated Warbler
  38. Belted Kingfisher
  39. Tree Swallow
  40. Red-tailed Hawk

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