Notes From The Field

Cowan Lake State Park

Despite the lack of 1 hour of sleep, I left the house early this morning as suicidal Robins darted back and forth across my street in search of a mate. I don’t think you can count a bird if it’s splattered across your grill, so driving slowly I made my way North and East towards the lake. At 700 acres the lake is a sailing paradise, with a 10 HP limit on motorized boats it’s not unusual to see the lake full of sailboats because a regatta is going on. Being relatively small compared to Caesar Creek, it’s easier to get around to various vantage points to scope out our elusive bird for the day, a Eurasian Wigeon

For me this is the second time I’ve chased this bird. The first time was at Fernald Preserve earlier in the fall with the help of the site manager allowing Shane Eggleston  and myself the opportunity to drive to an “off limits” spot where we were able to get good views of the Wigeon. Today was different.

The first few stops were the beach and then the boat ramp in the Eastern portion of the lake. From here you’re allowed a free view of the shallow end of the lake and where the Wigeon was first viewed. From what I could make out it was mostly Teal, Shovelers, and Coots. I needed to get across this portion of the lake to get a better view into the shallower end, so back into the bird-mobile for the drive over. This part of the lake is probably the hardest to access, however there is one trail called the Locust Trail that will get you as close as any other place. That was my next stop, after I pulled over and did a quick ID on a raft of Ruddy Ducks.

The trail was muddy for the 20 minute hike to the lake. Eastern Towhees greeted me as I stepped under the canopy of branches just starting to swell from buds aching to burst open. I was alone, and I loved it. It gives you the feeling that everything around you is all yours. For your eyes only. That’s until you run into other birders chasing the same bird as you are.

Northern Pintail

I stayed at the overlook off of Locust Trail for about an hour with no sign of the Eurasian Wigeon. Feeling the need to move to another location, I went hiking back to the parking lot and try my luck at another spot. The morning was waning and I didn’t have a lot of time to bird this  morning. David was home for Spring break and he was leaving today after we had lunch and I wanted to get home and see him off.

I drove over to the campground where they have a boat ramp which offers some panoramic views. For the most part the people fishing scared off most of the ducks out of the middle of the lake, except this lone Common Loon.

There he was, right out in the middle of the lake, totally oblivious to the coming and goings of the fishing boats. I left the boat ramp and made my way over to the cottages that the state rents out. Some of them sit very close to the edge of a bluff overlooking the lake. Setting up my scope and scanning for several minutes, I struck out again. Or did I.

Even dipping on the Eurasian Wigeon doesn’t really matter when you can be out on a beautiful day like today birding.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. American Robin
  4. Ruddy Duck
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Common Crow
  7. American Coot
  8. Northern Shoveler
  9. Green-winged Teal
  10. Blue-winged Teal
  11. Hooded Merganser
  12. Mallard
  13. Northern Cardinal
  14. Red-winged Black Bird
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Dark-eyed Junco
  17. Red Head
  18. Eastern Towhee
  19. American Wigeon
  20. Northern Pintail
  21. Carolina Chickadee
  22. Tufted Titmoouse
  23. Pileated Woodpecker
  24. Downy Woodpecker
  25. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  26. Belted Kingfisher
  27. Bufflehead
  28. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  29. Common Loon
  30. Blue Jay
  31. Horned Grebe
  32. Carolina Wren
  33. White-breasted Nuthatch
  34. Cooper’s Hawk
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One response to “Notes From The Field

  1. I too like being out somewhere and nobody else is in sight- the birds are more at ease that way, it seems. The loon looks happy to be alone, too!

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