Notes From The Field

Shawnee Lookout & Lost Bridge

Nothing wears me out faster than a 6 plus hour day of birding. But it’s a good kind of tired, and the full list of birds that makes the day complete. The day started bright and early at 7 am as I began my drive towards Shawnee Lookout Park to meet up with both Jon and his wife Samantha. Arriving first at the boat ramp I was given some early time by myself as our newlyweds were running behind from a faulty alarm clock.

Sitting high upon a hill over looking the Ohio River in the far Southwesteren part of Ohio sits (in my humble opinion) the crown jewel of the Hamilton County Park system. With over 1.000 acres to play in, and besides being on of my favorite places to bird, especially this time of year, it’s also one of the farthest. On a good day it will take me an hour for the drive over.

As with most birding trip I normally bring along one of two cameras, however today I had the feeling that birding by ear was going to be the norm, and having Jon along was going to be a big plus. Besides being younger than  myself with those younger ears, he’s also better at identifying bird songs than I am. I’m a fast learner, but my problem is picking out the different song or call amongst all the others, especially if their louder.

Not once did I break out the camera. Birding was difficult with all the trees leafed out, and even though Warblers were plentiful, seeing them was another thing. We heard plenty of Northern Parula, but we only saw a couple. The same could be said about Cerulean Warblers. We heard at least 7, but only got good looks at one. But that’s how you have to bird sometimes.

Our first stop was right in the middle of the road. Jon heard a Blue-winged Warbler. This was one of our target birds for the day and a lifer for Samantha. We pulled in to a parking lot where the Little Turtle Trail started. We unloaded and headed into the woods on this beautifully maintained 2 mile trail. The Blue-winged Warbler has a very high pitched trill that is hard to hear if your not accustomed to it. We were no more than 5 minutes into our hike when we started to here them. Then we saw one. And not just a glimpse, but a real good look as it sang from a branch 10 feet away.

Shawnee Lookout is a prime location for Warblers in the Spring, and we were working hard to pick out as many as we could. Not all came as easy as our first Blue-winged Warbler. A lot of them were by call only, but once you learn the call you become more attuned with your surroundings as you start to pick out the bird calls.

As we continued to move from location to location our day list also grew as well. While Jon was having a couple of Cheese Conies from Skyline for his lunch, I checked out a cut out area where some high electrical towers run across the park. The White-eyed Vireos were very vocal, and seeing one was my mission. They get into these dense tangles of vegetation and sing away just enough to drive you crazy as you try to find them. Satisfied with seeing 2 of the 3 Viroes I clambered down the side of the hill and continued birding with Jon.

Our last hike was the Miami Fort Trail which is situated at the end of the park road. This is Cerulean Warbler country, and while standing in  the parking lot we were able to make out some faint calls. Our decision to head off into the woods paid off when we heard at least 7 different Cerulean Warblers during our 1.7 mile hike. We probably would have heard even more if it wasn’t for some park employees who thought Sunday was a good time to do a little lawn mowing.

We ended the day with a quick drive by of the gravel quarry at the end of Lost Bridge, and found practically nothing. Now I’ve put in long hours of birding before but yesterday was a tiring day. Hiking over 4 miles while birding put a hurtin’ on the body and mind. But it was a good kind of hurtin’.

Notable birds for the day include

  1. Yellow-throated Vireo-FOY
  2. Red-eyed Vireo-FOY
  3. White-eyed Vireo-FOY
  4. Eastern Phoebe
  5. Wood Thrush-FOY
  6. House Wren-FOY
  7. Wood Duck
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Summer Tanager-FOY
  10. Scarlet Tanager-FOY
  11. Eastern Towhee
  12. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  13. American Goldfinch
  14. Song Sparrow
  15. White-throated Sparrow
  16. White-crowned Sparrow
  17. Field Sparrow
  18. Chipping Sparrow
  19. Great-crested Flycatcher-FOY
  20. Carolina Wren
  21. Brown Thrasher
  22. Brown-headed Cowbird
  23. Eastern Bluebird
  24. Indigo Bunting-FOY
  25. Mourning Dove
  26. Common Crow
  27. Killdeer
  28. Great Blue Heron
  29. Tree Swallow
  30. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  31. Barn Swallow
  32. Red-winged Blackbird
  33. Common Grackle
  34. American Robin
  35. White-brested Nuthatch
  36. Carolina Chickadee
  37. Canada Goose
  38. Mallard
  39. Rock Pigeon
  40. Northern Cardinal
  41. Cooper’s Hawk
  42. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  43. Prothonotary Warbler
  44. American Redstart-FOY
  45. Cerulean Warbler-FOY
  46. Common Yellowthroat-FOY
  47. Louisiana Waterthrush
  48. Yellow-throated Warbler
  49. Blue-winged Warbler-FOY
  50. Northern Parula
  51. Black-throated Green Warbler-FOY
  52. Pileated Woodpecker
  53. Northern Flicker
  54. Hairy Woodpecker
  55. Downy Woodpecker
  56. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  57. Caspian Tern-FOY
  58. Turkey Vulture
  59. Black Vulture
  60. Red-tailed Hawk
  61. Broad-winged Hawk
  62. Red-breasted Merganser-FOY

FOY-First of the Year

2 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. I’m sorry I missed out. I was in NY but I would have liked to have seen all those birds with you.

  2. The warblers have plenty to hide behind this season unfortunately. I have to brush up on my bird songs as well!

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