Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hummingbird Challenge

For the second year in a row the gauntlet has been thrown, and the date’s been set. On April Fools Day the 2 contestants will place their individual Hummingbird feeders outside for the arrival of our little friends. And who are the contestans? My birding buddy Phil, and yours truly. The rules are simple. Hummingbird feeders are placed outside on the specified date, and whoever entices the first Hummingbird to their feeder before the other, wins. And what’s the prize for being this years winner. BRAGGING RIGHTS

Let the game begin

“On The Road”

Remember the old T.V. show “In Search Of”, hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Every week this documentary style series would roam the Earth in search of Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and other strange oddities.

This Saturday your “On The Road” team of Jon Frodge and your truly will be traveling the back roads of Indiana in search of the Smith’s Longspur. These small birds are right in the middle of migration on their way to the tundra of Canada, and the window of opportunity is very small to find these birds. Very rarely do these birds find their way into Ohio, however the further West you go the chances improve, so Indiana is our destination.

A full report will be forthcoming, so stay tuned. Wish us luck.

New Yard Bird

We don’t get a lot of new birds in our yard. I think the last time I had a new species added to my “Yard List” was over a year ago when a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler made an appearance in my small tree in the front yard.

So Sunday morning while drinking coffee and reading the newspaper it came as a surprise when I heard the slow, slurring notes as they sped up into a trill, of a Field Sparrow. And it came as a real surprise when I discovered it wasn’t on my “Yard List”. That is until now.

Adding a new bird to whatever list you use is always a thrill and keeps us coming back for more. So to celebrate my new bird for the yard list, it will be the feature bird for my bi-monthly “Spotlight On Ohio Birds” series.

So, what was your latest new bird?

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve

Clear and crisp. That’s how I like it. And today was that kind of perfect day that reminded me of what March should really be like. I was tired of being cooped up at work, and nature was calling me like a seductive Siren. And Caesar Creek Gorge was the place for me.

At 483 acres this is a wonderful place to explore along it’s 2.5 mile loop trail. Starting from the trail head you have a choice of either going up, or down towards Caesar Creek. Today we go down. I wanted to get close to the creek since my target bird this afternoon was a Louisiana Waterthrush. A early Spring migrant in the Woods Warbler family that is a nice addition to anyone’s list.

Except for the droning of airplanes at the nearby airport. it was as quiet as an undiscovered tomb. Late afternoon birding can be like this. You really have to work just to get the obvious yard birds added to your trip list.

As you hike along the trail you can’t help but notice the beauty that surrounds you. Today was one of those days where even though the birding wasn’t what I expected, the wild flowers were phenomenal.

On the lower portion of the trail you would stumble across sections like this where these small white flowers would carpet the forest floor.

I’m not a wild flower person. I couldn’t tell you one variety of flower from the next, however I do know when something is beautiful. This walk became more of a Spring renewal for the soul than anything else. Sure it would have been nice to see a couple different warblers, or have an owl fly overhead, but sometimes we as birders need to stop and quit looking up, and see what’s around out own 2 feet.

Well, I actually had to look up to take this picture of this Red-Bud Tree against this brilliant blue sky.

With all the recent rain we had, Caesar Creek was rather swollen, which didn’t help in locating any Waterthrushes. In the past I’ve sat by the waters edge and have them come right up the bank towards me.

Climbing out and up towards the upper most portion of the trail, these small flowers were everywhere. Now I do think they call these Dutchman’s Pants, or something like that. If you happen to know any of the names of these flowers, just name them for me in the comments section. That’s the only way I’ll learn.

Walking along I came across a section where one would think a old homestead might have stood. It was relatively flat with a fancy wire fence in one area, not what you’d find when fencing in your property. And along this fence were some Daffodils and these small blue flowers. Planted, like they were put there on purpose. What was this area like 100 years ago?

This was one of the most enjoyable afternoon I’ve spent alone in the woods in a long time. So get out and enjoy this Spring for any other reason than to stop and smell the flowers.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Flicker
  2. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  3. Downy Woodpecker
  4. Turkey Vulture
  5. Black Vulture
  6. Northern Cardinal
  7. American Robin
  8. Tufted Titmouse
  9. Carolina Chickadee
  10. American crow
  11. White-breasted Nuthatch
  12. Cooper’s Hawk
  13. Great Blue Heron
  14. Eastern Towhee

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

A Dove pecks

another Dove prunes

the third Dove is still

Notes From The Field

Miami Whitewater Wetlands

I woke up late this morning. The long hand was closing in on 7 am, and I had 1 hour to get to Miami Whitewater by 8am to rendezvous with the Cincinnati Birders Meetup Group. This is the new group of birding aficionados of varying skill levels that I’ve just recently joined. This is officially my second field trip, and Miami Whitewater is another of my favorite places.

I pulled into the Baughman Road parking lot with a few minutes to spare. Chris, one of the group members was already there and the other 2 showed up shortly afterwards, with Lisa as the group leader, and Gene, one of the birders I hit it off with on the last field trip. It was cool and overcast as we struck out from the parking lot and headed North with the wetlands to our right and a line of thick vegetation and trees to our left. Birds were real active as we settled into our birding routine, stopping and listening frequently, or pausing if a bird caught our eye. As we hiked you noticed that we were walking up a small rise that gave us this view of the wetlands look East.

The lake you see in the picture is always there, it just varies in size depending on the amount of rain we’ve had. And with the recent storms we’ve had lately the lake is larger than I’ve seen in a while. Which is good for our waterfowl friends.

We proceeded in a northerly direction till we came to a major East-West path that bisects the wetlands. What I suggested to the group was to follow this path till we came to a mowed path that went of to the right that would get us closer to the lake. This path was where I birded last Autumn when the Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow was the hot bird for the area. The path meandered through tall grasses and cattails, however this time there was no path. Or for that matter no tall grasses or cattails. I think there was a controlled burn performed by the park that erased all the vegetation except for around the lake. So instead of walking over where the path should be, we opted to follow the path we were already on.

It was at this point a member of the group spotted a raptor type bird flying off in the distance. As we all swung around to focus in, the first words out of my mouth were Short-eared Owl. Sure enough, this is my second SEOW seen flying during daylight hours out here. But the best part it was life birds for everyone except myself. Anytime you can come away with a life bird, you’re having a good day.

We turned South and followed the bike path as joggers and bikers whizzed by  doing their morning exercise. We turned in where the bird blind sits so we can scan the lake one more time before leaving. This was the one time I left my spotting scope home and that was a big mistake. We struggled to make out ducks that were far away, but not far enough for a spotting scope if some bone head would have just brought it. That’s what happens when you don’t get up on time.

The view of the lake from the observation blind.

Northern Shovelers with American Coot

Blue-winged Teal

After leaving the observation blind we cut across the wetlands on another mowed path that runs East-West. We slowly made our way back to our cars with some good memories and birds. Excellent day as far I’m concerned.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Common Grackle
  2. American Robin
  3. Red-winged Blackbird
  4. Carolina Wren
  5. Northern Cardinal
  6. Blue Jay
  7. Mourning Dove
  8. Mallard
  9. Canada Goose
  10. Carolina Chickadee
  11. American Goldfinch
  12. White-throated Sparrow
  13. White-crowned Sparrow
  14. Song Sparrow
  15. Field Sparrow
  16. Swamp Sparrow
  17. Wood Duck
  18. Blue-winged Teal
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. Brown Thrasher
  21. American Coot
  22. Northern Shoveler
  23. Great Blue Heron
  24. Turkey Vulture
  25. Short-eared Owl
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. Red-shouldered Hawk
  28. American Kestrel
  29. Tufted Titmouse
  30. Ring-necked Duck
  31. Pied-billed Grebe
  32. Horned Grebe
  33. Hooded Merganser
  34. Bufflehead
  35. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  36. Killdeer
  37. Eastern Bluebird
  38. Northern Mockingbird
  39. Northern Harrier
  40. American Crow