Western Hamilton County & Fernald Preserve
Summer has finally arrived to the Ohio Valley, and with a vengeance! The rainy, unseasonably cooler weather has finally subsided and the heat and humidity reared it’s ugly head this past weekend. Wanting to keep my Grassland/Wetland series progressing as planned I contacted Jon to make arrangements for a Sunday outing. As we head into the dog days of Summer birding is usually relegated to either the morning or the evening for myself. So this last Sunday morning we set out with 2 target birds in mind, especially from a digiscoping point of view.
The first bird I wanted to find was the Lark Sparrow. This Sparrow of open country and pastures can be rather rare in this part of Ohio, but not impossible if you know where to look. Last year on the 10th of June a few were discovered within a short drive from my house. As a matter of fact I was able to snap off a few quality photos as proof.
The facial markings on the Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) are striking. A large sparrow at 6 1/2 inches this is easily identifiable. So this year I was pretty confident that the possibility of the lark Sparrows being in the same spot was pretty presumptuous on my part. Either they didn’t return to the same spot as last year, 0r they just weren’t showing themselves on the 2 occasions I visited.
So Sunday Jon and myself were off to the Tri-state’s go-to spot for breeding Lark Sparrows, Blue Rock Road. Specifically a newly developed condo complex. Upon arrival we went to work trying to locate these post breeding birds, who weren’t reacting to the Lark Sparrow song I brought along. After 45 minutes we left without seeing one, however Jon said that they might be just down the road where he had seen them in the past.
We pulled into a dead end road that was bordered by corn fields and weeds when Jon noticed 2 Lark Sparrows on a pile of concrete rubble by the side of the road next to where we pulled off. As we parked they flew off across the road and started to feed in this field. We crossed the road and got our bins on them to confirm our sighting. We not only did we have an adult, but a juvenile as well. Racing back to the bird-mobile to gather up my scope and camera with Jon keeping an eye on them, I made my way back to set up my rig. And as you would expect, they flew off as soon as I got them in my view finder.
My second target bird was the Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea). The smallest of all the Grosbeaks at 6 3/4 inches, I’ve learned to look at every Indigo Bunting just to make sure it’s not a Blue Grosbeak. So it was off to Fernald Preserve where we’ve had some pretty good luck in the past with these birds. Today we hit the jackpot with 6 Blue Grosbeaks seen. Both male and females. However in the past I’ve learned that these birds don’t like sitting still for their picture. Catching one sitting on the top of some piece of vegetation would be perfect, however today I just couldn’t get that kind of shot. I had to be grateful that we found some perched on the electrical wires.
As the sun rose higher and the thermometer climbed, we started to feel worn out. Thirst and food was calling us, so we left and went out separate way.