Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Camera

Canon Powershot ELPH 100 HS

I must have been an extra good boy this year because Santa brought me a new camera for digiscoping. He must have known how much homework was put into this particular camera, and with all the features that any digiscoping birder would be proud to own. Now I can give Kathy back her Nikon, which was hers in the first place.

Granted, I would have loved to have had Santa bring me a DSLR with a fixed 50mm lens, however they are a bit price prohibitive and if I had the money for one I would probably spend it on a new pair of binoculars.

I’ve yet to take my new camera out into the field, however tomorrow David and myself are off for a morning of birding over at Winton Woods and maybe to the settling pond if time permits. So with Christmas over, it’s time to take the toys outside to play with.

New Book

Just a few days ago Kathy and myself were finishing up some gift purchasing for my nephews 2 little girls when we found ourselves at our local Half Price Book Store again. This store for me is like offering a drink to a alcoholic, a bad idea. So to resist temptation I tried to stay in the front of the store and check out their music CD’s, but to no avail, I was drawn to the “Nature Section” like the “One Ring” to Sauron.

I caved! But for only $5.98 I think I did pretty well on this book. Plus it’s a hard bound book.

I’ve not yet delved too deeply into this book, but it’s a subject that I need to have a better understanding of if I’m to improve as a birder. Plus how could I pass up a great deal like this.

The True Meaning Of Christmas

Merry Christmas from all of us at A Birder’s Notebook

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek State Park

It came as quite a shock when the rains finally ended and the sun shone brightly yesterday afternoon. With no chances to go birding for the next several days, yesterday was going to be my last chance to get in a little exploring and birding till after Christmas.

That’s right, you heard correctly, exploring. My oldest son David joined me as we set off for Caesar Creek again for a late afternoon of exploration, with a little birding on the side. Let me explain a little further what I mean. Just the other day I downloaded Google Earth to my desk top computer. I’m going to use this handy tool to assist me in mapping the best locations to view birds around the lake, and with over 40 miles of shoreline there will be a lot of ground to cover.

According to Murphy’s Law for birding, the best birds are always on the opposite side of the lake from you. So to level the playing field a little, I figured if I knew of a place that I can get to on the other side of the lake, then I should have an increased chance of getting better views of the bird I’m chasing. And these locations I’m highlighting on Google earth can be saved to my computer so I can share these hot spots with my readers.

So yesterday I added 2 more hot spots that provide excellent views of the lake. One in particular was quite awesome. Most of these viewing hot spots can be easily driven to, however there are a couple that requires some physical effort to reach. But sometimes the rewards are worth it.

So yesterday David and myself went to the Furnas Shores area of the park. This area is on the western side of the lake and has to imposing features. 2 really large dams. Before the lake was built this area was probably in a low lying location to begin with. So if the lake were to rise because of excess water from spring rains for instance, these neighborhoods wouldn’t get washed away. And they’re highly visible from all over the lake because of their height.

As the sun sets casting our long shadows over the dam, David and I stop so I can take a picture of this imposing man-made structure. We’re looking back towards the bird-mobile which is about a 1/2 mile away back along the top of the dam. Or maybe I should call it a flood wall. It basically serves the same purpose as the flood walls that border the Ohio River in both Newport and Covington.

This is the spectacular view from the top of the flood wall. This is also where we climbed down to the lake. It wasn’t very difficult, you just had to watch your footing as you walked upon stones about the size of baseballs and softballs.

Now comes the cool part. By using Google Earth and zooming into this part of the lake, I was able to save that image and with the added feature of a yellow pin you can place to show where we were down by the lake.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Carolina Chickadee
  3. American Crow
  4. Blue Jay
  5. Mourning Dove
  6. Ring-billed Gull
  7. American Coot
  8. Greater Scaup
  9. Northern Pintail
  10. Mallard
  11. American black Duck
  12. Canada Goose

Bird Study Merit Badge

4th Annual Bird Study Merit Badge Workshop

After a few phone calls and reapplying of some on-line paperwork, the final date for our workshop has been set. Saturday, April 28th, 2012 at Fernald Preserve. This will be Phil and my second time we’ve held this event at Fernald, with last year being our first time. We were so impressed with the facility and their hospitality that we just had to try and reserve it again this year. And with better communications between ourselves and the local Boy Scout council, we will once again meet our quota of Boy Scouts attending.

All the important information in regards to the workshop is being published in the council newspaper, and with that we’ll start signing boys up as they call either Phil or myself reserving their spots. So stay tuned for more information  as we start the new year.

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek State Park

Compromise is very important in any relationship, particularly when birding is involved. Today was no exception as I made my way to Caesar Creek today for a morning of birding and an afternoon of some holiday honey-do items to pick up and a pot of clam chowder to cook for dinner. But it’s all good when a Red-throated Loon is the chase bird for the day. It was first reported this last Friday and then again yesterday by Rick Asamoto and Allan Claybon respectively.

I arrived at North Pool Boat Ramp at about 9:45 this morning with the start of a sunny day and hardly a breeze to speak of. But no birds unless you count the decoys that lay in front of the  duck blinds that are scattered around the edge of the lake. I worked my way back towards the overflow parking area and a gravel boat launch area used for smaller craft. From this view I’m looking South with the beach towards my right about 1/2 mile away. Now with the sun in  eyes, I strained to look across the water at anything that resembles a bird. I did happen upon 2 Horned Grebes on the far side when I noticed a smaller loon moving in the direction of the grebes. As the loon passed behind the grebes I was able to get a good look even a comparison in size at that distance and felt good it was the RTLO. I lost track of it a couple of times as it dove under, then rose again in another area. Finally I lost it totally and was about to leave for a better position when I noticed Rick Asamoto through my scope over at the beach. So I was off to the beach to hook up with Rick and hopefully to re-locate the loon.

Rick had also seen me and tried to call my cell phone, which I forgot and left at home, which will come back to haunt me later. I had told him I had re-located the loon across the lake in the shadow, so we stayed till we once again re-located it. It was feeding in the same area as this small group of Common Goldeneyes. I knew of a way to get to the lake edge on the other side from where we were, so it was off towards Harveysburg. We turned onto Old State Route 73 which dead ends at the lake. As we walked the last 100 yards down the road to the lake we were treated to the 4 Common Goldeneyes still there.

2 females with a male that has an itch.

Now with the sun to our backs we would be able to really pick out the loon if it shower up. And it did. We watched it for a long time as it dove and then came up again, almost playing a cat and mouse game. They are able to stay under water for up to 90 seconds, and dive to reported depths of 29 ft. They actually caught one in a fishing net that was set at 70ft. So needless to say when they go down you never know where their going to rise again.

Notice the man walking his dog on the far shore.

Just when I was about to leave Rick noticed two people we both knew over at the North Pool Boat Ramp. He said that it looked like Gale and Brian Wulker. They are both very good birders and we knew that they were here for the loon. It would have been easy to just call them since I had their number in my cell phone, but…   So Rick ran back to his car and headed over to them at the beach. While he was gone I made every effort to keep my eyes on the loon, however it turned out to be a difficult task since I just lost a pair of eyes. Fortunately it came back up and I was able to  get my scope on it as Gale and Brain showed up. Perfect timing. We watched it for several minutes before it was time to pack it in. Remember I still have a honey-do list to take care of.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Common Crow
  2. Northern Cardinal
  3. Carolina Chickadee
  4. Dark-eyed Junco
  5. Belted Kingfisher
  6. White-throated Sparrow
  7. Mourning Dove
  8. White-breasted Nuthatch
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Red-tailed Hawk
  11. Herring Gull
  12. Ring-billed Gull
  13. Canada Goose
  14. Pied-billed Grebe
  15. Horned Grebe
  16. Common Goldeneye
  17. Red-throated Loon