Notes From The Field

Cowan Lake State Park

The outing for today has been highly anticipated. The Wild Bird Center in Mason had rented a pontoon boat from the state park, and lead a small, but charged group onto the Cowan Lake for what was to be some great birding. However the best laid plans don’t always work out. Such was the case for today. Phil and I were looking forward to this trip, so with the unexpected cancellation was opted for plan B, which is to still go to Cowan Lake.

Cowan Lake is about the same distance as Caesar Creek from my house, however the lake is smaller and easier to get around. The lake is 700 acres and is a favorite spot for area boaters. Especially sail boats. So as we pulled into the campgrounds do some birding from the small boat ramp there you couldn’t help but notice all the sail boats on the water. Today they were holding a regatta for a small class of sail boat, and with the windy conditions, it was perfect. Not so for birding.

Around the lake the wind was steady and non-stop. The only reliable birds were the soaring birds such as the Black and Turkey Vultures. We did the best we could under the windy conditions to bird around the lake. After several stops and not much to show for our efforts the decision was made to head to the woods and out of the wind.

I was able to get this relatively good photo of a Great Blue Heron as it fished near the lake.

We back-tracked to a road that is used by the park where they have one of their maintenance buildings. Next to that is a large parking lot and the beginning of the Locust Grove Nature Trail.

Never having hiked this trail before, I was definitely ready for a new adventure and some better birding. What a wonderful trail. Well marked loop with level ground most of the way. Mature trees which left the forest floor not as grown over as some places I’ve hiked. Granted there are places that make you feel closed in, but as the hike wears on and you near the lake it opens up. And as is the normal with fall birding you come across little pockets of good birding then it drops off to silence 10 minutes later. This is a trail where you would want to linger and savor the beauty. As the trail nears the lake you notice a side trail that takes you to a lake side viewing deck that has a bench. And the view is over this expanse of Locus flowers growing all over this portion of the lake.

A Great Blue Heron wading amongst the Locus plants.

As expected the birding picked up once we got out of the wind. And even though we didn’t score with huge amounts of birds, we did come home with some fond memories. Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Osprey
  2. Double-creasted Cormorant
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Tufted Titmouse
  6. Carolina Chickadee
  7. Pileated Woodpecker
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Hairy Woodpecker
  10. Downy Woodpecker
  11. Red-tailed Hawk
  12. Red-shouldered Hawk
  13. Cooper’s Hawk
  14. Turkey Vulture
  15. Black Vulture
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  17. Nashville Warbler
  18. American Redstart
  19. Black-throated Green Warbler
  20. Ring-billed Gull
  21. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  22. Blue Jay
  23. Chipping Sparrow
  24. Mourning Dove
  25. Canada Goose
  26. American Robin
  27. White-breasted Nuthatch
  28. Gray Catbird
  29. American Crow
  30. European Starling (only because Phil came along)

One response to “Notes From The Field

  1. Starlings: And they are good with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

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