Monthly Archives: January 2013

Public Service Announcement

PSA

The time has come once again when I dig into the archives of past blog posts and perform some necessary house cleaning. WordPress, my web blog provider only allows me 3 gigabytes of free video/image usage, and if you desire more there is a annual charge for additional usage. Being a birder on a budget it’s easier to delete images than to buckle under to another annual charge. By doing this I’ll be able to provide to you my readers the same quality postings you come to expect. Rest assured that the content of all archived posts won’t be effected, only the images will disappear. So all images from the year 2011 will slowly be deleted, as are the images from 2010, which were deleted last year.

As much as I would love to be able to keep all of the pictures I downloaded on the blog, I can’t risk not having enough space for the pictures that are yet to be used for future postings.

Thanks again, and I hope to see you in the field.

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“On The Road” #328

Pinkerington Ponds Metro Park & Hoover Reservoir

If you could say one thing about me to others is that I’m pretty tenacious when it comes to life birds that are within my reach. As you might remember awhile ago I ventured to Pinkerington Ponds to add the Harris Sparrow to my life list. Anyone with any kind of patience could add this bird to their life list, it was that reliable. Almost everyday you would see the same Harris Sparrow from Franklin County on the eBird Sightings log. You don’t know how tempting something like this is until you’ve chased a rarity like this. And it was during the latter part of my convalescence from knee surgery that I ventured forth to chase this bird. And I dipped! Only to find out later in the day that it was seen 1 hour after I left Columbus. Now I’m pissed!

Flash forward to last Thursday. I get a text message from long time birding buddy John Marvin and he’s in town wanting to go birding, and he mentions Pinkerington Ponds as the go to location. It seems John needs the Harris Sparrow for his life list as well. So plans were made, and we were up before the crack of dawn for our Sunday morning drive. At 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning you really can make wonderful time on the highway. But as we drove further north the temperatures were dropping till it reached 10 degrees as we pulled into the parking lot at the Wood Duck picnic grounds. Wool mittens, down parka, and a hat with ear covers were important. And the best trick of the day was bringing along a closed cell sleeping pad for underneath your sleeping bag. I remembered how bloody cold the ground was just standing there waiting for the sparrow to show. Subsequently my feet didn’t get nearly as cold as last time.

This time though our strategy was going to be different. Not knowing how long we were going to have to wait for the bird we pulled the bird-mobile close enough to watch the feeder. I guess a car is less a threat than 2 humanoids hovering about with bins and cameras. But today it wasn’t the people or the cars that disturbed the birds most of all. It was the Sharp-shinned Hawk that would make it’s presence known from time to time just to scare the birds off.

So we arrived at 7:30 and so began the waiting game. Reports were pretty sketchy as to when it shows up. Sometimes it’s in the morning. Other times it’s in the afternoon or late afternoon. We were hoping for a morning appearance.

IMG_2302One of the many visitors to the feeder was this Northern Flicker.

IMG_2304And this White-crowned Sparrow.

Several times during our stay we would drive over to the other feeder that the Harris Sparrow was spotted at. Sometimes it was busy, other times it wasn’t, but no Harris. It was on one of these occasions that upon our return to our original location another car had pulled in with a husband and wife. It seems the wife was the birder and the husband was more interested in the Sunday paper. Their license plate frame was from a Sandusky Honda dealer so they drove a bit of a way themselves.

Then the action started to pick up as more and more House Sparrows were joining in with the Tree, Song and White-crowned Sparrows. On the ground under the feeder, back in the bushes you could see all sorts of bird movement, and on the feeder…

there he was…

 IMG_3721This is my photo of the Harris Sparrow. Sitting in the car I naturally didn’t have my digiscoping rig ready, just my other Canon. And not wanting to scare the bird off there was no way I was getting out of the car to fetch it. John was in the passenger seat with the better view and a better camera. He sent me this next picture, and I did a little picture editing to bring out the full beauty of this bird.

harris1Picture courtesy of John Marvin

My first life bird for the year, as is John’s, so feeling rather proud of our accomplishment we decided to take a little side trip to Hoover Reservoir Dam and see what kind of birds might be on the lake. Our first stop was right near the dam and to check out a large gathering of various geese and ducks. I added 2 more new birds for my January Challenge with a Red-breasted Merganser and Herring Gull. A little further north along the west bank Smothers Road crosses the lake and more birds were seen on the ice. As we pulled in and started to walk towards the edge John quickly noticed a couple of Snow Buntings along the weedy edge of the lake.

IMG_3722This was my best effort, which is pretty bad.

However after today I added 4 more birds to my January Challenge, and a lifer to boot. Not too bad for a solid morning of birding. After leaving Hoover Reservoir we drove home.

  • #101-Harris Sparrow
  • #102-Herring Gull
  • #103-Red-breasted Merganser
  • #104-Snow Bunting

Other notable birds for the day include:

  1. Northern Harrier
  2. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  3. American Kestrel
  4. House Finch
  5. American Gold Finch
  6. House Sparrow
  7. White-crowned Sparrow
  8. Song Sparrow
  9. American Tree Sparrow
  10. Blue Jay
  11. Northern Flicker
  12. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Northern Cardinal
  15. Common Crow
  16. Canada Goose
  17. Mallard
  18. Common Goldeneye
  19. Pied-billed Grebe
  20. Hooded Merganser
  21. Mourning Dove
  22. Tufted Titmouse
  23. Carolina Chickadee
  24. Ruddy Duck
  25. Ring-billed Gull

A Birder’s Haiku

rock gardenDedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Red bird in the pine

Mother Natures Christmas tree

feathered ornament

By Phil Burgio

January 100 Species Challenge

It’s over…finally! The series of events that took place today was nothing short of divine intervention from the birding gods as I had several hours to kill before an 11 o’clock appointment. And I was off to Grand Valley once again to try and pick up the Horned Grebe that escaped me yesterday. And like yesterday I’m handicapped since i don’t have a pass into Grand Valley which leaves me on the outside looking in. Trying to pick out one Horned Grebe amongst the thousands of different waterfowl from this distance will prove difficult, but today my luck was about to change. A couple of people pull up asking if I had seen anything good. Now one of the guys was driving a pick-up with an Indian Hill logo on the side. And we start to talk. His name is John and would you believe he works part time at Grand Valley on weekends. And then he asks me if I’d like to go into Grand Valley as his guest. Well, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. He let me through the gate and told me he would be back in a couple of minutes to join me after he ran a couple of errands.

Now it was during this time I started to scan the massive flock of Canadian Geese when I saw a medium, all white goose with it’s head tucked sleeping. A pair of Ross’ Geese were seen here the day before, and considering the luck I’ve had lately there was no way this could be one of them. Well after John returned we studied it further, and actually drove to a better location (he’s allowed to drive where normal folks aren’t) to get a closer view. At this point the bird was raised up and showing all the perfect field markings of a Ross’s Goose. And the cherry on the top was the Horned Grebe was still there swimming amongst a group of Pied-billed Grebes.

I now had an hour before my appointment so it was off to Kelly Nature Preserve right down the road to try and pick up a Hermit Thrush, which this place is noted for. Hermit Thrush, no problem. And to make it even better on the way out to the bird-mobile I picked up 2 Winter Wrens to make it an even 100 species and the end of the challenge.       Whew!

This was a great challenge and one I’ll probably try again next year. Living in a  part of Ohio that doesn’t offer up a whole lot of different species during the colder months this challenge was pretty stressful on me. You keep asking yourself what I’m doing wrong and where else can I go to find that one bird. I was always second guessing myself as the days wore on the pressure to finish successfully was always in the back of my mind.

So now let’s see what the rest of the month brings. Happy birding.

  • #97-Ross’s Goose
  • #98-Horned Grebe
  • #99-Hermit Thrush
  • #100-Winter Wren

January 100 Species List

It now crunch time. My last full weekend is upon me and I still need a few more birds to make my 100. So in an effort to jump start my weekend off I headed over to Grand Valley to see if anything new was around. Yesterday a Snow Goose was seen and I could certainly use one of those. However upon my arrival no Snow Goose we spotted. I scanned the lake from my vantage point for about 20 minutes till I headed over to Camp Dennison Nature Trail. The sun was setting and I was working hard to pick up any birds in the increasingly dim wood lot. After all my efforts I was able to tick off 3 more birds.

  • #94-Yellow-bellied sapsucker
  • #95-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • #96-Lesser Scaup

Sunday it’s off to Pinkerington Ponds once again to try for the Harris Sparrow with long time birding buddy John Marvin.

January 100 Species Challenge

With just 10 days till the end of January crunch time is now upon me. So yesterday I made a full morning of trying to cover as much ground and cover as much different habitat to reel in the remaining birds.

My first stop was Hidden Valley Lake just into Indiana off of Route 50. For the past week or so a Red-necked Grebe has been hangin’ out there, and I was pretty optimistic I could re-locate it. I’ve never been to Hidden Valley Lake before but it wasn’t far from the small RV park lake that had the Surf Scoter earlier in the month. It was your typical lake community with a sizable body of water and homes scattered about. Once again it was another windy day and the lake had a good chop on it as I scanned the lake above the dam from behind a sports bar & grill that’s on the property. I was able to locate the Red-necked Grebe fairly easily, however I really wanted to get a photo of it.

IMG_2278As is typical with most photogenic subjects they tend to move away from you as you yourself move to get closer for a better picture. Since I didn’t have all day to mess with bird I moved onto the Oxbow.

The Oxbow was completely under water, if you entered from the Shell gas Station entrance, however from the casino entrance I had better luck as I was at least able to get onto the property and scope out Jackpot Pond and the surrounding fields. I was able to pick up a couple Rusty Blackbirds and this beautiful Bald Eagle.

IMG_2286

Now it was off to Fernald Preserve to pick up the Snow Goose that was reported the day before. No Snow Goose, but I did meet up with Linda and Sue Osterhage who put me onto a good Red-headed Woodpecker location. But before I left Fernald I tried to get a picture of at least one of the dozen Eastern Bluebirds that were feeding real close to us. Which proved difficult. That was until one landed close to the observation platform on the ground.

IMG_2296

All in all a pretty good day with 3 more birds for the January list.

  • #91-Red-necked Grebe
  • #92-Rusty Blackbird
  • #93-Red-headed Woodpecker