Notes From The Field

Miami Whitewater Forest & Campbell Lakes Preserve

In the waning days of Spring, as more and more migrants depart to their respective breeding grounds, our thoughts turn to our own summertime residents. Here in the Ohio valley our woodlands are teaming with Wood Warblers, Tanagers, Vireos, Thrushes and Flycatchers. However for myself and others we’ll brave the blazing sun and heat as we head out into our local wetlands/grasslands. These are the  summertime homes of reclusive Sparrows, Dickcissels, Bobolinks, Blue Grosbeaks, and Meadowlarks. And it’s these species we’ll be focusing on as Spring turns into Summer in just 10 days.

So yesterday morning I picked up Jon and we made our way to Shaker Trace Wetlands at Miami Whitewater Forest. With 123 acres of wetlands and 296 acres of planted prairies this is just one of the tri-states best birding spot. And today’s target bird is the Henslow’s Sparrow. Some recent chatter on Cincinnatibirds message board gave us a good idea where to start our search. As we walked the bike trail that bisects this area Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Towhees, and Red-winged Black Birds called from either side. As we passed into the vast openness of grasslands we started to pay attention more closely for the Henslow’s “hic-cup” type call.

It was Jon who stop and paused first. Above all the other birds singing, trying to pick out a small 2 note call is tough.

IMG_3884Willow Flycatcher greeted us as we made our way out onto the grasslands.

Then both of us heard the call. Now all our attention is tuned into the Henslow’s whereabouts. And since Jon heard it first, it was me who spotted it as it crept along the grassy border where the short and tall grass meet. We both got on it and verified it was indeed a Henslow’s Sparrow. Then it flew to a nearby bush where it perched on top and started to sing.

IMG_3870

And since I didn’t have my digiscoping rig with me I really had to try and get close to capture any kind of picture. As we positioned ourselves to get a better look it flew down into the long grass. We moved onto a mowed path that ran parallel to the bike path and the bird jumped out. Quickly I took some pictures.

IMG_3877 IMG_3874 IMG_3875

As far as I was concerned, this was a successful trip with such a great bird. Not wanting to bother this bird because of our concern that their nest was close by (there were actually 2 Henslow’s) we retreated down the trail, and made our way towards the bird blind that overlooks the wetlands. We scanned from the blind for a few minutes before heading out onto the overgrown dike that cuts across the narrowest part of the wetlands. This time were looking for a Least Bittern. We never got any look at the Least Bittern, however we heard what we thought was one calling. As we moved closer to the bird, it quit calling.

We moved on and made our way back to the car where we continued to explore more of the shadier portions of the park. The sun was up and beginning to melt our brains. We drove to the Timber Lakes region of the park where dense trees cover deep ravines. Wood Thrush, Hooded Warblers, and a Ovenbird were some of the species either seen or heard. However the highlight were all the Cerulean Warblers. From the tops of the towering trees we could hear them sing. Multiple birds were putting on a vocal display as we searched for any movements. We’d see a single bird fly from one tree to the next, but with such dense follage picking them out from all the leaves was next to impossible.

As the morning wore into the afternoon we drove over to a new place for me, Campbell Lakes Preserve. Once a gravel quarry with 4 lakes that are now used as play fishing lakes, this property now under the Hamilton County Parks District control, this is the same park where a Least Tern was seen for a day just last week.

IMG_3887 IMG_3886

Encompassing 183 acres, besides the lakes that dot the park this is how the land scape basically looks. Perfect grassland habitat. As we walked along we made our way towards the Great Miami River for a look over the bluff. As we approached this dead tree I couldn’t help but notice a Brown Thrasher calling.

IMG_3889It was then joined by 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers.

IMG_3891Another one of our target birds for the day.

Blue Grosbeaks, Grasshopper Sparrows, Orchard Orioles, and a hunting American Kestrel were just some of the birds seen while we visited this new, but soon to be re-visited park. And with all good things, this day had to end.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Carolina Wren
  2. House Wren
  3. Red-winged Black Bird
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. American Robin
  6. Least Bittern?
  7. Song Sparrow
  8. Field Sparrow
  9. Henslow’s Sparrow
  10. Grasshopper Sparrow
  11. House Sparrow
  12. Chipping Sparrow
  13. Warbling Vireo
  14. Red-eyed Vireo
  15. Yellow-throated Vireo
  16. Indigo Bunting
  17. Eastern Kingbird
  18. Willow Flycatcher
  19. Acadian Flycatcher
  20. Eastern Wood Pewee
  21. Eastern Phoebe
  22. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  23. Mallard
  24. Canada Goose
  25. Wood Duck
  26. Turkey Vulture
  27. Red-tailed Hawk
  28. American Kestre
  29. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  30. Downy Woodpecker
  31. Hairy Woodpecker
  32. Pileated Woodpecker
  33. Red-headed Woodpecker
  34. Orchard Oriole
  35. Baltimore Oriole
  36. Common Grackle
  37. Tree Swallow
  38. Purple Martin
  39. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  40. Barn Swallow
  41. American Goldfinch
  42. Blue Jay
  43. Eastern Meadowlark
  44. Killdeer
  45. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  46. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  47. Brown Thrasher
  48. Eastern Bluebird
  49. Mourning Dove
  50. Yellow-breasted Chat
  51. Cerulean Warbler
  52. Hooded warbler
  53. Yellow Warbler
  54. Common Yellowthroat
  55. Ovenbird
  56. Northern Parula
  57. Blue Grosbeak
  58. White-breasted Nuthatch
  59. Brown-headed Cowbird
  60. Northern Mockingbird
  61. Eastern Towhee
  62. Gray catbird
  63. Cedar Waxwing
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One response to “Notes From The Field

  1. Les- those Henslow’s photos came out great! They definitely exceeded my expectations given the light and conditions.

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