Notes From The Field

Fernald Preserve & Gilmore Ponds

With the passage of this destructive cold front that left nothing but devastation in it’s wake from countless tornadoes, Saturday was cool and windy with gray overcast skies and a few streaks of sunlight shining through. This was going to be a big day for me as I made my way to Fernald Preserve for the start of the morning.

Pulling into the small lot by Lodge Pond I unloaded my gear and walked to the small observation platform overlooking the pond. As usual the resident Mute Swans were there with a couple of dozen other ducks. A mix of Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked, Gadwall and a lone Canvasback was the extent.

Canvasback on Lodge Pond

Ring-necked Ducks on Lodge Pond

I left the platform and walked up between the pines that line the pond in an attempt to get the sun towards my back and get some pictures. Finding a good spot I snapped off some pictures that you see above. I also had a Kingfisher who sat still long enough for me to get yet another out of focus shot. Even when they’re sitting still I can’t get it into perfect focus. I think I know what I’m doing wrong, I just have to make a conscience effort that when I focus on a bird that I need to release the shutter release and depress again so the camera can re-focus since I changed to focus of the spotting scope. I know that might not make sense, but in my head it does.

Leaving Lodge Pond I drove slowly towards the Visitor’s Center to warm up a bit. My next stop was the Weapons to Wetlands Pond and see what’s happening there. The road twists and turns as I made my way back. This is always a slow process for me since I always stop  along the way to check out other ponds and check the wires for Kestrels and Hawks which are always here.

The gravel path that takes you to the Weapons to Wetlands Pond was busy with Goldfinches and Red-wing Blackbirds as they feed from feeders set up near the Visitors Center.

A tree full of American Goldfinches.

The Weapons to Wetlands Pond held a better selection of ducks as I was joined by Darlena Graham for a short time. She told me she was out at Fernald by 6:30 for Short-eared Owls with no luck. We scanned to pond thoroughly and traded birding stories for a while till we went our separate ways. She went home and  walked to trail out from the Visitors Center.

Gadwall at Weapons to Wetlands Pond

American Wigeon and Ring-necked Ducks on Weapons to Wetlands Pond.

Leaving my spotting scope in the car for my walk, the sun started to peak out a little more as the wind picked up on the exposed grasslands that makes up this part of Fernald Preserve. During the Spring and Summer this place is so incredibly active with birds that when you’re here during this part of the year you have to work to get your birds. A few Eastern Meadowlarks would spook in front of you as they made short flights into the tall grass not to be seen again. An American Woodcock would do the same thing however this time I was able to keep the bird in sight as it circled around and landed too far away to see again. I was nice to see 2 Eastern Bluebirds making up their nest box for their young.

This picture was taken through my binoculars.

With the morning waning and the need to get home so I can let the dog out I made my way back to the bird-mobile. Once again driving slowly I was fianaaly able to spot some American Kestrels. Not just one but three this time. Jackpot!

You can see the 3 Kestrels as they perched on the gutter of this out building. This shot was taken about 250 yards away.

After making my way home I had some lunch and took a nap, which was very much needed for phase 2 of my birding day. I once again left home and arrived at Gilmore Ponds 10 minutes before the 4:30 start time for my first “Meetup Group” outing. Penny Jarrett who contacted me concerning the Great Backyard Bird Count along the Little Miami River was there and we finally meet face to face. I also meet Gene Dennis, the gentleman who I was supposed to meet last Saturday and look for the Long-eared Owl. The group on a whole was a mix of varied skill levels, and everyone was real pleasant. I’m happy I joined this group and I’m also sure some good friendships will grow from it.

The rains that have plagued us during this Winter has really taken it’s toll at Gilmore Ponds. The last time I was here there was hardly any water in Cattail Marsh, however this time it’s different.

I don’t think your supposed to get your feet wet as you make your way to the observation platform.

The group got quickly separated into smaller groups as we circumnavigated the whole park. There seemed to be good waterfowl on the lake but it was difficult to get close with all the flooding.

A good sign of a healthy ecosystem, Angry Beavers. That’s for all you “Nickelodeon” fans.

The light was fading fast as we finally made it back to the parking lot and some fond memories. It was a great, but tiring day.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Common Grackle
  2. American Crow
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Rock Dove
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. Turkey Vulture
  7. American Robin
  8. Canada Goose
  9. Mute Swan
  10. Red-winged Blackbird
  11. Mallard
  12. Belted Kingfisher
  13. Green-winged Teal
  14. Ring-necked Duck
  15. Song Sparrow
  16. Canvasback
  17. Gadwall
  18. American Kestrel
  19. Killdeer
  20. Northern Harrier
  21. Northern Mockingbird
  22. Eastern Bluebird
  23. White-crowned Sparrow
  24. American Goldfinch
  25. American Woodcock
  26. Ruddy Duck
  27. Bufflehead
  28. American Tree Sparrow
  29. American Coot
  30. Red Heads
  31. American Wigeon
  32. Pied-billed Grebe
  33. Eastern Meadowlark
  34. House Sparrow
  35. Northern Cardinal
  36. Cooper’s Hawk
  37. Downy Woodpecker
  38. Carolina Chickadee
  39. Wood Duck
  40. Tufted Titmouse
  41. Northern Shoveler
  42. White-throated Sparrow
  43. Great Blue Heron

2 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. I adore your blue Kingfisher. They are such a cute bird!

  2. Three Kestrels on a roof- now that’s something you don’t see every day!

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