Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rare Bird Alert

415px-66_Ivory-billed_WoodpeckerJust like last year, a Mississippi Kite has appeared at the same location in Loveland Ohio. The report came in this afternoon of a sighting at 11:30 this morning. Whether it’s the same bird or not is hard to determine, but if the rains hold off long enough I’ll be making a trip over there shortly. More to come.

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A Birder’s Haiku

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

A cloud wall drifts

on the green meadow

Sparrows at the door

By Narayanan Raghunathan

Notes From The Field

Bellevue Bottoms, Boone County Cliffs, The Oxbow, Lost Bridge, Smith Tract County Park

It was an early morning risin’ as I set off from my local UDF with coffee in hand towards Jon’s house. Today’s destination is our yearly trip to Boone County Cliffs, which is the biggest 78 acre park I’ve ever visited. But first we’re passing the turn off to the “cliffs” and heading towards a couple of dead end roads which recently has had some good bird reports. Especially Henslow Sparrows and Northern Bobwhites. We’re traveling to an area of Boone County Kentucky that is called Bellevue Bottoms. With it’s close proximity to the Ohio River and Aurora Indiana this part of the tri-state is new to me and has so much potential for some good birding in the future.

I’m assuming at one time these 2 roads (Horsley Ferry and Aurora Ferry Roads) had serviceable ferries that crossed the river, and being dead end there wasn’t too much traffic and walking on the road wasn’t an issue. Northern Bobwhite, Bank Swallow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orioles, Eastern Kingbird, and Vireos were some of the more numerous species seen. After leaving this beautiful rural setting it was off to Boone County Cliffs.

As we turned onto Middleboro Road we are greeted with a singing Eastern Phoebe perched on a bridge post. And as was the case for the day no camera within reach. So I opted to leave it behind today and just focus on the birds. Sometimes when I go birding I focus too much on getting a decent picture of the bird than concentrating on what’s important, the actual bird. Then when I’m scrambling to retrieve my camera from it’s case, the bird is gone.

Boone County Cliffs is without a doubt in my top 5 places to visit within my 50 mile radius of home. Great hiking trail that winds on for 2 miles deep in some beautiful deciduous woods. A great variety of birds await anyone who visits this gem. However today the target birds are Kentucky and Worm-eating Warblers. Worm-eating warblers especially habitat specific and Boone County Cliffs are noted for multiple nesting “Wormies”. Since I starting visiting here I’ve not missed on this bird, it’s that reliable. With just a good set of ears and some patience anyone can either see of hear them. There call is a high pitched thrill that’s difficult to pick up at first if you’re not used to hearing it. Which was the case this morning. Jon was hearing one in the distance, but I couldn’t pick it up till I heard one close and got “tuned in”.

We were greeted with over active Louisiana Waterthrush’s as multiple birds chased each other around in the area of a small stream that cascades down towards the road we came in on. A thick canopy and under growth close in on both sides of the trail as we started to climb towards the area of the cliffs. Vireos, Flycatchers, Orioles, Tanagers, and my most favorite bird song, the Wood Thrush were everywhere.

This 2 mile trail finally reached it’s highest point, then started to level out with a gently rolling path that followed the contour of the ridge top. We’d pause and listen if a bird peaked our interest, or if a sudden movement caught our eye. As we made our way deeper into the woods we started to hear Wormies a little closer and had a great look of an Ovenbird. The one thing about Ovenbirds and Kentucky warblers is that their calls are very similar. And after we really listened, at both a Kentucky Warbler and an Ovenbird we finally were able to tell the difference when we heard more sing later on.

THEN OUR SOLITUDE WAS BROKEN BY GUN FIRE!

We had heard voices behind us for some time, but being a pretty popular place to go birding we never gave it much thought as this group of people were several hundred yards behind us the whole time. We didn’t know if they were birders or not, but there loud talking made us think they were just hiking. That was until one of the idiots discharged their gun, which in turned scared the shit out of the both of us. Jon then yells back at them that we’re up here and not to shoot their gun again. We reported the incident to the police and made a hasty retreat to our car, not wanting to run into some pissed off locals with a loaded gun. A very disturbing end to a great birding outing.

We took the long way home with stops at the Oxbow were a group of Great Egrets yielded one Snowy Egret, and a couple Prothonotary Warblers. After leaving the Oxbow we made our way to Smith tract County Park. In the past a good spot for Bell’s Vireo and Lark Sparrows. However the area where they’re usually sen has been taken over by a company that is using the area for a huge pipe line project. I real bummer. But on a bright note we did get some good looks as a Grasshopper Sparrow as it sang from the top of some weed.

And since it was an early day we called it over after leaving Smith Tract. Despite the disturbing end to our visit at “The Cliffs”, it was a great day of birding.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. American Kestrel
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Dickcissel
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Common Yellowthroat
  7. Yellow-throated Warbler
  8. Cerulean Warbler
  9. Hooded warbler
  10. Worm-eating Warbler
  11. Kentucky Warbler
  12. Louisiana Waterthrush
  13. Northern Parula
  14. Yellow-breasted Chat
  15. Field Sparrow
  16. Chipping Sparrow
  17. House Sparrow
  18. Grasshopper Sparrow
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. Cedar Waxwing
  21. Gray Catbird
  22. Red-winged Blackbird
  23. Common grackle
  24. Common Crow
  25. Northern Cardinal
  26. Tufted Titmouse
  27. Carolina Chickadee
  28. Carolina Wren
  29. House Wren
  30. Indigo Bunting
  31. Baltimore Oriole
  32. Orchard Oriole
  33. Brown Thrasher
  34. Northern Mockingbird
  35. Mourning Dove
  36. Northern Bobwhite
  37. American goldfinch
  38. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  39. Great-creasted Flycatcher
  40. Willow flycatcher
  41. Acadian Flycatcher
  42. Eastern Kingbird
  43. Downy Woodpecker
  44. Hairy Woodpecker
  45. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  46. Pileated Woodpecker
  47. Great Blue Heron
  48. Green Heron
  49. Great Egret
  50. Snowy Egret
  51. Canada Goose
  52. Mallard
  53. Purple Martin
  54. Tree Swallow
  55. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  56. Bank Swallow
  57. Cliff Swallow
  58. Barn Swallow
  59. Red-eyed Vireo
  60. White-eyed Vireo
  61. Warbling Vireo
  62. Chimney Swift
  63. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  64. Double-creasted Cormorant
  65. Blue jay
  66. Wood Thrush
  67. American Robin
  68. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  69. Scarlet Tanager
  70. Belted Kingfisher
  71. Spotted Sandpiper
  72. Common Loon
  73. White-breasted Nuthatch

The Story Of A Bird “Part 2”

The rarest of the Wood Warbler family (Parulidae), the Kirtland Warbler is a true prize sighting for any bird watcher. Especially if you happen to catch one during migration while they’re off their breeding grounds. Being a very habitat specific species they require young Jack Pine stands that are 5 to 20 years old where they will nest on the ground under the branches.

The first census taken on this bird was conducted in 1951. Then another 10 years later. Starting in 1971 they’ve annually conducted a census with 2012 showing 2,090 singing males. So you get the true idea of how few there are. So when I wrote a post on May 14th titled “A Story Of A Bird” about being one of the first people to view this beautiful female Kirtland warbler at the East Beach, I couldn’t wait to see if any of my pictures turned out.

IMG_3848This is the kind of underbrush that we had to deal with as we tried to re-locate the bird. If you look close she’s under there in the shadows.

kirtland3Here’s a closer view as you see the bird looking to it’s right, behind the stick. It then flew to a bush that had less vegetation on it.

IMG_3850kirtland2A closer view of the above picture. If only it was turned around.

IMG_3852I just kept taking pictures till I felt I had captured one image worthy. And here it is after blowing it up and cropping out the background.

kirtland1

As one would expect when a rarity is spotted, the masses start gathering. I was very thankful that it wasn’t during the week of the festival because there would have been 4 times more people trying to get a good view of the bird.

IMG_3859

IMG_3860

It was a great time and a great bird. And believe it or not, on the last morning we were there 3 more were sighted. It really was a great time for birding. And on this note I’m going to leave you with a very good picture of the above mentioned bird. This was sent to me upon request from a very good photographer the day we saw the bird. He was excited because he spent 8 days there already waiting to see if a Kirtland Warbler would show up.

KirtlandCourtesy of R. Bruce Richardson

“On The Road” (Summary)

Magee Marsh, Ottawa N.W.R.Metzger Marsh, Maumee Bay State Park

Since our return from our annual trip to the Lake Erie hot spots for migrating birds I’ve been nothing but busy, busy, busy. With just a few days before I return back to work the list of chores and appointments was pretty long. And with that comes the delay with getting any post for my blog out to you.

The trip was epic! The birds were abundant! The boardwalk was busy at times but I’ve seen it worse in years past. The lodge at Maumee Bay State Park was everything and more. The room was nice with a great view of the lake, which cost extra but worth it. We only ate in the restaurant twice, but it to was nice. And yes plans are in place for a return visit during this same time next year, but maybe rent a cabin and invite the kids to stay during the weekend if they want.

We arrived on Saturday morning, and left Wednesday morning after one more walk on the boardwalk. And since Kathy isn’t a birder, yet, there were plenty of things to do while we were there. Like I told here if I was here by myself I would be birding non-stop for most of the day. However this time we both ventured out and went out to eat in Port Clinton and Marble Head. We also visited the Lighthouse at Marble Head one afternoon.

IMG_3792

So we broke up this trip with some touristy things and some birding things. We were lucky to have been up there on the weekend when the auto tour was open at Ottawa N.W.R. It’s one great way to really measure how immense this place really is. It was during the auto tour that I was finally able to get a poor photo of a Bald Eagle sitting still.

IMG_2585

Overall it was a great trip. Total species count was 137, with 30 Warbler species. That is the most Warbler I’ve counted since I started going up there.

IMG_3770Eastern Wood Pewee

IMG_3776A very cooperative Scarlet Tanager. Too bad I couldn’t get a decent focus on it.

IMG_3779Palm Warbler at the East Beach. They were everywhere at this location.

IMG_3778The state used caution tape to create a barrier around this nesting American Woodcock that the grassy area between the parking lots was the best location to hatch her chicks.

IMG_3801As I came off the causeway into the parking area at Magee Marsh I noticed this small Egret feeding at that corner where you turn left. A Snowy Egret.

IMG_2592Snowy Egret

At times during our visit the boardwalks were this deserted. Here I am standing in one spot and shooting a picture in both directions.

IMG_3815 IMG_3814

IMG_3803Black & White Warbler

IMG_3817Chestnut-sided Warbler

IMG_3823A very vocal House Wren

IMG_3828Northern Waterthrush

IMG_2602Trumpeter Swans

IMG_3845A Veery along the path was you approach the Estuary Trail

IMG_3866Prothonotary Warbler as it emerged out of it’s nesting cavity.

IMG_3863And I always try to make it at sunrise along the causeway for great pictures like this.

IMG_3867And the best way to sum up why I do what I do.

Notable birds:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Osprey
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  7. Sandhill Crane
  8. Great Horned Owl
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. White-crowned Sparrow
  11. White-throated Sparrow
  12. House Sparrow
  13. Swamp Sparrow
  14. Chipping Sparrow
  15. Clay-colored Sparrow
  16. Lincoln Sparrow
  17. Great-creasted Flycatcher
  18. Least Flycatcher
  19. Eastern Phoebe
  20. Eastern Wood Pewee
  21. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  22. Willow Flycatcher
  23. Eastern Kingbird
  24. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  25. Acadian Flycatcher
  26. Blackburnian Warbler
  27. Blackpoll Warbler
  28. Black & White Warbler
  29. Magnolia Warbler
  30. Cape May Warbler
  31. Yellow Warbler
  32. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  33. Black-throated Green Warbler
  34. Yellow-throated Warbler
  35. Kirtland Warbler
  36. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  37. Hooded warbler
  38. Northern Parula
  39. Ovenbird
  40. Louisiana Waterthrush
  41. Northern Waterthrush
  42. Blue-winged Warbler
  43. Prothonotary Warbler
  44. Palm Warbler
  45. Wilson’s Warbler
  46. American Redstart
  47. Canada warbler
  48. Tennessee Warbler
  49. Nashville Warbler
  50. Bay-breasted Warbler
  51. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  52. Pine Warbler
  53. Mourning Warbler
  54. Orange-crowned Warbler
  55. Common Yellowthroat
  56. Mallard
  57. Blue-winged Teal
  58. Lesser Scaup
  59. Canada Geese
  60. Wood Duck
  61. Pied-billed Grebe
  62. Trumpeter Swan
  63. Mute Swan
  64. Double-creasted Cormorant
  65. White Pelican
  66. Herring Gull
  67. Ring-billed Gull
  68. Common Tern
  69. American Woodcock
  70. Killdeer
  71. Semipalmated Plover
  72. Black-bellied Plover
  73. Ruddy Turnstone
  74. Willet
  75. Semipalmated sandpiper
  76. Least sandpiper
  77. Dunlin
  78. Great Egret
  79. Snowy Egret
  80. Green Heron
  81. Great Blue Heron
  82. Hooded Merganser
  83. American Coot
  84. Common Gallinule
  85. Sora
  86. American Bittern
  87. Lesser Yellowleg
  88. Pectoral Sandpiper
  89. Spotted Sandpiper
  90. Warbling Vireo
  91. Red-eyed Vireo
  92. Philadephia Vireo
  93. Blue-headed Vireo
  94. White-breasted Nuthatch
  95. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  96. American Robin
  97. Northern Cardinal
  98. Blue Jay
  99. Scarlet Tanager
  100. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  101. Common Grackle
  102. Red-winged Black Bird
  103. Common Crow
  104. Black-capped Chickadee
  105. House Wren
  106. Marsh Wren
  107. Carolina Wren
  108. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  109. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  110. Gray Catbird
  111. Baltimore Oriole
  112. Northern Mockingbird
  113. Brown-headed Cowbird
  114. Swainson’s Thrush
  115. Hermit Thrush
  116. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  117. Wood Thrush
  118. Veery
  119. Downy Woodpecker
  120. Hairy Woodpecker
  121. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  122. Northern Flicker
  123. Tree Swallow
  124. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  125. Purple Martin
  126. Bank Swallow
  127. Barn Swallow
  128. Chimney Swift
  129. Cliff Swallow
  130. Mourning Dove
  131. Eastern Meadowlark
  132. American Goldfinch
  133. Brown Thrasher
  134. Eastern towhee
  135. Belted Kingfisher
  136. Pine Siskin
  137. European Starling

New Yard Bird

Any time you get a new yard bird, especially when it’s a Warbler, it’s a real treat. Sometimes i think that I’ve reached my limit as to how many new yard birds I’ll ever get. However today while I was talking to a contractor who going to do some work for me I heard a Yellow Warbler sing. I turned around and sure enough it was perched on the end of limb in some thick overgrown area. As I approached to get a closer look it flew away. Having seen a trillion up at Lake Erie these past few days it comes as no wonder I’m able to ID this bird without the use on my bins.