Notes From The Field

Ellis Lake/ West Chester Wetlands & Gilmore Ponds

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well I may not be dull, but I was a little sad not being able to get a little birding in this long Memorial Day weekend. The yard and garden has taken over so much of my spare time recently I’m trying to finish up as much as I can so I could get away for a morning. So with Kathy going into work yesterday, the time was ripe for some local birding. Which isn’t a bad thing since both of the above mentioned birding hotspots are some of my favorites.

The morning was warm and humid as I steps out of the bird-mobile at Ellis Lake/ West Chester Wetlands. So much of the water that was previously there was mostly dried up. However there have been reports recently of White-rumped Sandppipers here so here we go. The large field which will normally hold a boat load of water after a good rain was just a couple of small mud puddles. Scanning paid off with mostly Killdeer and some Spotted Sandpipers. The low spot in the field is this ditch which will hide even the smallest bird was still a hundred yards out of sight, so I walked out into the field in the attempt to close the gap a little and get a better view into the ditch. Not surprisingly was my White-rumped Sandpipers. So much of the water drains into this ditch, which in turn attracts the birds. However my stay was shortened with the onslaught of some flying, biting insects that were feasting on my flesh.

Willow Flycatcher at Ellis Lake.

Onto Gilmore Ponds. I spent over 3 hours here and as the Sun rose higher and higher birding became more difficult as energy levels drained for the heat and humidity. From the Gilmore Road parking lot the trail dives right into a flooded forest. Home to Wood Ducks and Prothonotary Warblers I always thought how much fun it would be to drift in a canoe in this tall stand of trees, but I don’t think the Butler County Metroparks  would like it much.

There were a few folks either enjoying the park with a nice walk, or a few who were there to photograph whatever fancies their interest. I was the only birder.

Green Herons are one of my favorite bird subjects. The hold still long enough for you to get a decent picture, and this one was very cooperative.

The portion of trail I was walking on runs along side of the old Miami-Erie Canal. Vegetation is so thick along the edges that your not able to see over it. The Butler County Regional Airport is on the other side of the canal, and some railroad track, and if it wasn’t for the airplanes you’d never know it’s there. I was able to find a spot where there was a log lying over the now silted over canal, so I tight roped over and peered over the tracks. This part of the airport property slopes down towards the canal and held massive amounts of water where Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons made their home.

Now in this picture you see my spotting scope in the middle, next to the Hemlock. My scope stands a few inches over 4 feet. So you get the idea of how tall, and closed in you can feel along this trail.

As the morning wore on, birds were becoming fewer and fewer. I had reached the half way point when the desire of the ice water in the truck started to call. I made sure that I hydrated myself before leaving, but i was starting to get a little parched. So I quickened my pace.

The stops were less frequent as I made my way around the park. I’d stop and check out when the birds got a little more active than usual. But the last half of the trip was pretty uneventful. The trees became sparse and open fields spread out before me.

This time of year Indigo Buntings are numerous here,

as well as Eastern Kingbirds.

A much needed trip. There are times when we need to get back to nature to recharge our souls.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Blue Jay
  3. American Robin
  4. Red-winged Blackbird
  5. Brown-headed Cowbird
  6. Common Grackle
  7. Mourning Dove
  8. Mallard
  9. Wood Duck
  10. Double-crested Cormorant
  11. Canada Goose
  12. Yellow Warbler
  13. Prothonotary Warbler
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  17. Great-crested Flycatcher
  18. Willow Flycatcher
  19. Barn Swallow
  20. Tree Swallow
  21. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  22. Turkey Vulture
  23. Northern Flicker
  24. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  25. Downy Woodpecker
  26. Carolina Wren House Wren
  27. Eastern Kingbird
  28. Belted Kingfisher
  29. Chimney swift
  30. Cedar waxwing
  31. Field Sparrow
  32. Song Sparrow
  33. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  34. Swamp Sparrow
  35. Great Egret
  36. Great Blue Heron
  37. Green Heron
  38. White-rumped Sandpiper
  39. Spotted Sandpiper
  40. Semipalmated sandpiper
  41. Least Sandpiper
  42. Lesser Yellowleg
  43. Killdeer
  44. Semipalmated Plover
  45. Red-eyed Vireo
  46. Yellow-throated Vireo
  47. White-throated Sparrow
  48. Baltimore Oriole
  49. Carolina Chickadee
  50. House Sparrow

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4 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. Let me know when you want to drift under the trees in a canoe.

  2. Not Queen Ann’s lace.

    • Yeah, I changed it when I found out it was Hemlock. You must have read it as soon as I posted the trip because I changed it within minutes. I was reading a blog called Season’s Flow and his recent post was a whole bunch of pictgures of wildflowers and other vegetation. This is when I found out it was Hemlock.

  3. Hemlock grows amazingly fast, doesn’t it? It’s almost like a jungle!

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