Notes From The Field/ #294

Daniel Drake Park, Bass Island, Armleder Park

I wanted to do one more field trip before I go on vacation next weekend, so I was up at my normal birding time, 6:00 am, and I’m out the door at 7:15 for the drive to Daniel Drake Park.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Drake Park, nor have I ever birded there. It was a cool, overcast morning as I pulled into the parking lot and noticed Mark, the group leader for the day had also just pulled in. All told we had 9 total people join in. It was a nice small group, with some very experienced birders mixed in.

A very cool picnic shelter at Drake Park.

It’s not a very big park at only 66 acres, and with being located on a hill top overlooking I-71 the potential for good birding is definitely there, just not today.

The group passing underneath 2 rows of large evergreens

Even with the high winds from yesterday, they still weren’t able to dislodge some of the beautiful Autumn leaves from this tree at Drake Park.

After about 1 hour at Drake Park, Mark decided we head over to Bass Island. Another new place for me to visit. I had a rough idea as to it’s location but wasn’t quite sure as we drove through Mariemont towards the bridge that heads into Newtown. Recently the warbler activity has been very hot here, so why not check it out for ourselves.

Another small park that borders the Little Miami River, geared more towards people who canoe or fish. Birding was sporadic as we found pockets of warblers, then after 10 minutes they’d be gone. It became quite obvious that the Yellow-rumped Warbler was the warbler for the day with large numbers as we continued to bird the area.  After about an hour we left Bass Island behind and made our way towards our last destination for the day, Armleder Park.

Now I’ve been here before, though it’s been awhile. We parked near the dog park and started to walk along the paved path South towards Duck Creek. Armleder Park is a pretty good size park at 305 acres with a 1.9 mile paved path that circles the park. And in the middle you have this marvelous, open grassland. Along the river there is a trail that runs parallel to the Little Miami River which offers some very good birding. And that was the direction we were heading, towards the river and the shelter of the trees.

A portion of the group birding the woods that run along the river.

We continued our march northward with the river on our right through some pretty dense vegetation and plenty of these plants that left black burrs stuck all over our clothes. And me with a fleece jacket. This hike ended at an overlook of the Little Miami River to see if anything was feeding on or near the rivers edge.

After hacking our way through some giant ragweed plants, I think, we finally found the paved path. Now we moved towards the north working the edge to see if we could spook some sparrows up. We crossed the paved East/West path that goes from the shelter to the river overlook, and moved towards the large fields to the north. We all dove right into the field as we kept sharp eyes out for movement. There were plenty of sparrow activity, but the grass was so thick it was really difficult to get them to pop up even for a second so we could ID them. As we moved through the tall grass we lost 3 members of the party to previous engagements, which left 5 of us working the field and another gentleman walking the paved path on the river side of the park. As we approached a mowed trail that bisects the field from east to west we saw it spook and fly away.  John and Mark both called out “Rail”, and I immediately thought Sora as it flew away from me and down near a small tree 50 yards away. John was the first to say that it could be a Yellow Rail, especially with the kind of habitat we were walking in. So the 5 of us spread out to see if we could spook it again. And we did, and with certainty that it was a Yellow Rail. An incredibly secretive bird right before our eyes. Needless to say the group was very excited about this bird especially the ones who scored a new life bird. Myself included.

This is the mowed path, and on the left is the area where the rail was spotted.

One of a trio of Viceroy butterflies found along the mowed path.

Exhausted from all the “Rail” excitement we made our way back to our cars and to home where postings of this bird will be immediately put on the internet.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Blue Jay
  2. Northern cardinal
  3. Tufted Titmouse
  4. American Crow
  5. Chimney Swift
  6. Gray catbird
  7. Carolina Chickadee
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. Mourning Dove
  10. American Robin
  11. Eastern Goldfinch
  12. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  13. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  14. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  15. Chipping Sparrow
  16. Pine Warbler
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. House Sparrow
  19. Canada Goose
  20. Killdeer
  21. Tennessee Warbler
  22. Blackpoll Warbler
  23. White-breasted Nuthatch
  24. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  25. Mallard
  26. Cooper’s Hawk
  27. House Wren
  28. Indigo Bunting
  29. Northern Flicker
  30. Hairy Woodpecker
  31. Osprey
  32. Turkey Vulture
  33. Bobolink
  34. Wood Duck
  35. Nashville Warbler
  36. Song Sparrow
  37. Lincoln Sparrow
  38. Red-winged Blackbird
  39. Eastern Meadowlark
  40. YELLOW RAIL-LIFER
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2 responses to “Notes From The Field/ #294

  1. Armleder Park is great! It’s nice to have such a different biome less than two miles from Ault Park.

    I’ve recently discovered Bass Island and Drake Park myself. One of these days I’m going to see a sunrise from Drake Park but I think I need some better lights since it’s a bit of a commute (in the dark) for me on my bike.

    How big is a Yellow Rail? Congrats on the find! I’m going to keep my eye out next time I’m in Armleder! That is seriously excellent that they’re able to thrive in Armleder Park, from what I’m reading it sounds like their habit is shrinking.

    Take care!

    • The bird is about 7 1/4″. It was one of the luckiest birds I’ve ever spotted. I’m just glad that there were others with me that saw it as well.

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