Monthly Archives: November 2011

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek State Park

It came as quite a surprise to be able to take the day off during the week, especially today when it finally has stopped raining. So to make up a day missed of birding from the weekend (this last weekend was the first in a long time when I didn’t go birding) I made my way to Caesar Creek S.P. to see if the funky weather we’ve been experiencing blew in anything cool.

I got up at 8 am, left the house at 9 am, and arrived at Harveysburg Road with high hopes. What I found was a rather full lake. All the rain had raised the level of the lake like it was in the spring. Scanning over to the beach revealed not much sand showing. With a strong westerly wind right in my face I started to look around the lake for anything. I found the neighborhood American Coots floating way across the lake, however I noticed to the right of them large numbers of other ducks which were also very far away. And with a chop on the water it was impossible to ID anything.

If you remember the last time I was here I was bound and determined to find a way to find a location where I could see the lake from across where Harveysburg Road ends at the lake. And I think I found it. I did some studying of Google Maps of the area and re-found the old, closed off Oglesby-Harris Road, which runs off of Furnas-Oglesby Road.

This is what remains of Oglesby-Harris Road. I followed this till it ended at the earthen causeway which runs parallel to the lake. Climbing up and over the causeway I found the remnants of the road which dove into some thick brush which I had to hack through to get a view of this.

The North Pool Boat Ramp is directly across from where I’m standing.

I’m so glad that I’ve found a way to get to this side of the lake because the birding started to really pick up. The raft of ducks came into view where you could at least ID them and for the most part they were Buffleheads, Horned Grebes, Northern Shovelers, Ring-necked Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, and …

What’s this I spy through my scope. White head. Black cheek patch. NO WAY.

Long-tailed Duck

How freakin’ awesome is this. This is the second year in a row that Long-tailed Ducks have been spotted at Caesar Creek. The real difficulty comes when you try to pick it out of a crowd of other ducks.

This digiscoped picture was taken at 20x and we’re able to make out the different species even at this distance.

The problem when trying to take a digiscoped picture of a Common Loon is that they don’t stay on top of the water very long. As soon as you see one and get your scope on it, they dive again. I feel lucky to get this picture even with it’s butt cut off.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe with fish

The next 2 pictures are some heavily cropped, close-ups of the Long-tailed Duck. They’re not a high quality picture, however it’s the subject that matters here.

I really lost track of time when Kathy called me wanting to know where I’m at. For some reason she’s always looking for me. Anyway I had to leave because Ethan had a job opportunity come up and he needed the bird-mobile. Which was too bad since it appeared that the raft of ducks were drifting closer to where I was.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Ruddy Duck
  2. Long-tailed Duck
  3. Bufflehead
  4. Redhead
  5. Ring-billed Duck
  6. American Coot
  7. Northern Shoveler
  8. Horned Grebe
  9. Pied-billed Grebe
  10. Canada Goose
  11. Common Loon
  12. Bald Eagle
  13. White-crowned Sparrow
  14. White-throated Sparrow
  15. Eastern Towhee
  16. Northern Cardinal
  17. Carolina Chickadee
  18. Common Crow
  19. Red-shouldered Hawk
  20. Dark-eyed Junco
  21. Blue jay
  22. Ring-billed Gull

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New Field Guide

For all those bird bibliophiles out there, and you know who you are, a new National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th edition has hit the book stores. And for you on-line shoppers Amazon has it for $18.26, which would make a great stocking stuffer for any old or new birder.

As for myself I’m not sure whether I’ll pick it up or not. Already owning a 1st and 4th edition I think I’ll wait, or better yet take a peek at it at my local Barnes and Nobel and see if it’s worth while or not. However if your a birder who doesn’t own a copy of a National Geographic Field guide, I would highly recommend that you buy one. And what better time than now with the holiday season in full swing and I’m sure all you birders have been extra good this year.                  Santa watches you know!

The High Cost of Feeding/ Part 2

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you’ve probably read my post concerning the high cost of black oil sunflower seeds. Well after work today I thought I would stop by my favorite seed store, Tractor Supply Company, to see if their was any fluctuation in the price of black oil sunflower seeds. I’m here to report sadly that there hasn’t been any change. The price of a 40 lb. bag was at $26.99. Now if you were one of the lucky ones who went there on Black Friday you could have gotten that same bag for $7.00 cheaper.

Now granted it’s only been about 2 weeks since my original post, however just remember that when your seed bucket starts to get low, and the thought of running to the store to pick up more seed to feed those hungry birds, just be prepared for the sticker shock. And for those few who got the great deal at tractor Supply, could you spare a couple of scoops?

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

White of Birch against

stillness of azure water

Merganser dives beneath.

Happy Thanksgiving

From all of us at the Houser household, and A Birder’s Notebook, have a Happy Thanksgiving. And here is another one of my favorite holiday songs for your enjoyment.

Feedin’ the Birds, not the Squirrels

In my ongoing effort to prevent the neighborhood Bushy-tailed Rats (a.k.a. Sciurus carolinensis/ Eastern Gray Squirrel) from destroying my feeders, I recently purchased a new bird feeder. Being a bit frugal, I would often opt for an inexpensive plastic feeder, or try my hand at something homemade. Not being a crafty guy, most of my homemade efforts were geared towards the suet feeder.

My new feeder is this collapsible mesh sunflower seed feeder with 2 perches which holds a couple pounds of seed. My buddy Phil has a similar one with only 1 perch. I’ve always wanted one since.

And as a added bonus I included this seed hoop that attaches to the feeder via a series of 6 adjustable cords with hooks on the end. Seeds that are dropped on the screened hoop is then eaten by birds that prefer to eat on a platform , like Northern Cardinals. This also prevents messy lawns from all the seed husks.

Have the Squirrels discovered the new feeder? I’m not positive, but I’m sure they have. My concern isn’t the feeder, but the seed hoop that hangs underneath. One of these mornings I’ll probably find a Squirrel sitting in the middle of it searching through the leftover seeds. As long as they don’t destroy it, I’m OK with that.