Notes From The Field

Armleder Park, Meldahl Dam, Crooked Run Nature Preserve, East Fork State Park

As you can probably tell by the above list it was quite a day traveling around the eastern reaches of the Tri-state in search of birds. And as any good blogger would tell you that throwing in a few pictures now and then might enhance the quality of your blog post. And being a blogger I couldn’t agree more with a statement like this, however yesterdays adventure unfortunately resulted in only 2 pictures worth posting. Either the birds wouldn’t hold still long enough, like the Fox Sparrow, or the birds were so distant that taking a picture would have been horrible and not worth the trouble, like the White-winged Scoter. Or the most frequent problem when trying to digiscope any bird. They fly away just as your ready to get your gear ready, like the Common Goldeneyes.

So with all the excuses out of the way, let’s proceed.

Picking up Jon at 8:00 am, we then drove to Armleder Park as our first stop of the day. The flooding Little Miami River had finally receded enough for it to be re-opened to the public just a few days ago. Jon had heard that there was some good water fowl activity at the “Bean Field” and thought it was worth the walk back through the woods to get there. Sparrows were in abundance as we made our way to the bean field. Song, White-crowned, and an occasional Fox were scattered throughout the tall grass that lined the paved path back to the overlook of the river. As we entered the woods the birds came alive with activity and for the Crows, this was especially true. I’m talking about dozens upon dozens of Crows raising the roof with distress calls. And soon we found out why.

IMG_2309 IMG_2308

I can’t remember the last time I saw Crows harass an Owl quite like this poor Great Horned Owl. And what even surprised me even more was the fact that it held still long enough for me to get it’s picture. If it wasn’t flying from one perch to the other, Crows were chasing it. And when it did perch the Crows either dive bombed it or perched nearby and Cawed at it. After 20 minutes of watching this the Owl finally flew away with the Crows in hot pursuit.

After Armleder Park we picked up Ohio Route 52 which runs along the Ohio River and made our way to Meldahl Dam. On the up stream side of the dam we’ve had some good luck with a few good birds in the past. Notably a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Red-necked Grebe. And today was no different when Jon spotted a White-winged Scoter pretty much by itself. Meldahl Dam can be at times a hit or miss location, and if it wasn’t for the Scoter it would have been a miss today.

A couple miles down the road from the dam sits Crooked Run Nature Preserve. And it was during our visit there that we, or should I say myself, spotted a pretty cool bird. I wish I could add an ariel photo of what Crooked Run looks like from above because it’s a very nice place. First you have the Ohio River on one side, and an estuary coming off the river and cutting a water course forming a small peninsula so to speak. And on this peninsula there is this wonderful nature trail. At first the trail follows the estuary before it cuts across to the river side. Now this is where the story gets interesting.

Before Jon and myself even starting walking the trail, Jon told me if I read the post from uber-birder Brainard Palmer-Ball about a Great Egret that he as well as another person spotted from the Kentucky side of the river, since we were in the general area where the spotted the Egret. I didn’t remember at the time, but after getting home and reviewing old sighting posts I found the one he was talking about. It was dated January 29th.

So it was during this hike on the trail as we spooked a few Great Blue Herons, we spooked a very large, all white, wading bird. Not wanting to take my eyes off of it I didn’t put my bins to my eyes and watched for several seconds as it flew away from us following the estuary towards the river. As I exclaimed “Did you see that”? Jon’s reply was he was looking in the other direction and never saw the Egret. Well I know a Great Egret when I see one and there was never any doubt in my mind what I saw. A Great Egret in February. Who would have thought. Needless to say it made the eBird hit parade, and with my description, it was confirmed by the eBird reviewer.

Feeling rather pleased we made our final drive to East Fork State Park for a scan of the lake from the beach area. There was the usual crowd of Ring-billed Gulls hanging out on the beach, much like they do at the beach at Caesar Creek. And there was a large gathering of assorted water fowl all the over by the dam, but being pretty inaccessible by land we opted to view from afar and make educated guesses  to the species type.

All in all a very nice day, with too few pictures. I hope to do better next time. Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Bald Eagle
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. Red-shouldered hawk
  7. Northern Harrier
  8. Common Grackle
  9. Common Crow
  10. Great Horned Owl
  11. Carolina Chickadee
  12. Tufted Titmouse
  13. Northern Cardinal
  14. Horned Lark
  15. Carolina Wren
  16. Song Sparrow
  17. White-crowned Sparrow
  18. Chipping Sparrow
  19. Fox Sparrow
  20. American Tree Sparrow
  21. American Robin
  22. Downy Woodpecker
  23. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  24. Pileated Woodpecker
  25. Northern Mockingbird
  26. Red-winged Blackbird
  27. Brown Creeper
  28. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  29. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  30. Belted Kingfisher
  31. Herring Gull
  32. Ring-billed Gull
  33. Bonaparte’s Gull
  34. Eastern Towhee
  35. Great Blue Heron
  36. Great Egret
  37. Northern Flicker
  38. Mallard
  39. Common Goldeneye
  40. Canada Goose
  41. Gadwall
  42. Horned Grebe
  43. Pied-billed Grebe
  44. Canvasback
  45. American coot
  46. Killdeer
  47. Ruddy Duck
  48. Bufflehead
  49. Red-breasted merganser
  50. Northern Shoveler
  51. White-breasted Nuthatch
  52. Mourning Dove
  53. White-winged Scoter
  54. Black Duck
  55. Double-creasted Cormorant
  56. American Goldfinch
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