Monthly Archives: September 2013

Notes From The Field

Since starting this vacation, this has been the first day I”ve been able to get the internet and update my blog. You see the house we were renting didn’t have wifi so I was left without any means to write a blog post. Now I could have driven down into Gatlinburg to find a hot spot, but if you”ve ever been to Gatlinburg you know that traffic can be bumper to bumper and the people are everywhere. So I opted to wait till I got to Hilton Head to write a quick post.
The drive up to our weekend house was quite unbelievable. A series of multiple hair pin curves and switch backs took us up the side of this mountain right on the edge of town. Since there aren’t that many houses as you climb up, and traffic was just the people who lived or rented, I mostly birdied right outside of the house on the street in the morning. And believe it or not I had some pretty decent varieties of birds. I normally was the first one up in the morning, and I would get in an hour or so of birding before everyone else got up and started to move about.
These are the notable birds for that aspect of the trip.
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Northern Mockingbird
American Robin
Northern Cardinal
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Veery
Swanson’s Thrush
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Pileated Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Scarlet Tanager
Blue Jay
Common Crow

And now that I’m at Hilton Head I am meeting up with my buddy Rich tomorrow morning to do some serious birding at Fish Haul Creek. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Painted Bunting, and from what Rich told me they are still around.

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“On The Road”

With just hours till the start of my much needed vacation, the process of selecting all the appropriate birding gear goes through almost all bird watchers minds. Questions such as what kind of birding am I going to be doing? Am I going to the mountains where I’ll be hiking through the woods, or am I going out west with all their wide open expanses of grasslands. Your destination plays a huge part in the gear you take along, and if you’re like me you’ll probably over pack. Quite simply there are certain items that I just can’t leave behind because you just never know when you need it.

This vacation will be divided into 2 parts. Our first destination will be  Gatlinburg Tennessee. It’s been years since I’ve been here and birding here will be on the casual side. We’re renting a house along with some family members so birding might be as stressful as sitting on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee and my bins by my side. We might make a side trip into Cades Cove and of course my bins will coming along, but other than that birding isn’t a high priority activity. That will have to wait when we make a return visit to Hilton Head South Carolina, where I’ll meet up with old friend Rich to hunt down some much needed new birds for the life list.

But before I talk about the list of gear being taken let me tell you that I’ll be updating my blog while I’m away. Letting you know of all the exciting birding adventures I’ve been on, however there will no pictures with the blog posts. I’m taking my new tablet and I can’t figure out how to do pictures yet. So the pictures will have to wait till I get home, or by some miracle I can figure it out on my own.

So when I sat down the other day and started to collect my thoughts and my gear that were going, there are certain items that are just a given.

  • Binoculars (duh)
  • Spotting scope and tripod
  • Cameras x 2 with either replacement batteries or charged re-chargable battery with charging dock
  • Voice recorder (just so I can keep track of the millions of birds I’ll be seeing)
  • Digiscoping attachments
  • Field Guides.
  • Various Do-dads and Gizmos to keep everything clean and tightened.

For this trip I’m only taking 3. Which in itself is quite a lot since I’ll only be carrying one at any given time. However once again I don’t want to leave certain ones at home because I think they are that good.

Still my favorite after all these years

This may be one brick of a field guide, however I feel it’s the best when it comes to usage of actual photographs.

This guide runs a close 2nd to the Peterson Guide as being my favorite.

And if you don’t hear from me in a timely fashion, don’t worry, I might be having too much fun!

Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Nelson Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni)

Family:  Emberizidae

Order:  Passeriformes

Description: 

  • Small, stocky songbird.
  • Orange-yellow face.
  • Gray ear patch.
  • Smudgy streaks on breast and flanks.
  • Short, rounded tail with pointed tail feathers.

Voice:  Song a steady hissing buzz.

Habitat:  Freshwater marshes and wet meadows in interior and brackish marshes along coast; in winter in salt and brackish marshes.

Nesting:  Open cup of grass stems and blades, lined with finer grass blades and sometimes built up on sides to form partial covering.

Range:

ammo_nels_AllAm_map

FYI’s:  The Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow formerly was considered the same species as the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, collectively known as the Sharp-tailed Sparrow. The two forms have separate breeding ranges that barely overlap in Maine. They differ in genetics, songs, and subtle plumage characters.

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ http://www.allaboutbirds.com

 

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek S.P.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and this last weekend was one of those glorious Autumn weekends even though it is technically still Summer. While finishing up with dinner Sunday evening I decided I needed to go birding.

Gathering up my spotting scope and bins I turned the bird-mobile North and headed up Ohio Route 22 & 3. After 10 minutes of driving the landscape changes and the sky takes on that early evening Autumnal grayish blue hue. The clouds had such texture and fullness as the setting sun just deepened the colors.

Soybean fields are taking on the golden yellow color, as the fall corn crop browns on the stalks and rattles at a passing breeze. I turn off the radio and open all the windows, including the moon roof to let in as much nature that it could hold. Leaves were just starting to show some color as the road winds and dips between Morrow and Wilmington.

Even though I didn’t have a lot of time to go birding I thought that checking out the mud flats at the far northern point of Caesar Creek Lake would be the best place to go with the limited time I had.

Mound Road is a quiet road with with several dozen homes built around it. It’s the type of neighborhood where you’d like to raise your children in. All the yards back up to one another, and you know the neighbors by their first names. The kind of neighborhood where you can find one or two cars left unlocked all night and not have to worry about someone stealing it.

Mound Road eventually ends. The asphalt becomes one that’s been taken care of, to stuff that needs more than sealer to fix. This part is owned by the state, and traffic is either birdwatchers, park rangers/ park maintenance, or for people looking for a quiet, out of the way place to party.

A worn turn around is where I leave the bird-mobile as I unload my spotting scope and sling on my bins. Clipping my digiscoping camera to my belt I thought was a futile gesture, but I did have my fingers crossed for something good. The walk back is a few hundred yards and being late in the day it was real quiet. Insect from the thick brush were beginning to chirp, as a Northern Cardinal called it’s familiar “chip” note. An Eastern Phoebe perches as it starts to show the yellowish wash on it’s belly as they do in the fall. Even with hardly any rain in some time the ground holds so much moisture as I approach the lake edge. You have to sneak up to the edge of the water. So many times I’ve scared off Bald Eagles, Osprey and other nice birds because the trail takes you to the very edge where they love to hang out over the exposed mud that forms as the lake level recedes.

And I did it again! A Great Blue and Green Heron notice my approach and take to the wing. A few Great Egrets take off leaving about 6 others behind. I set up my scope and start to scan the rather small mud flat for movement. Loads of Killdeer, naturally. Several Spotted and 1 lone Pectoral Sandpiper were the only wading birds. I scan the dead tress left standing in the water and spot a Belted Kingfisher waiting to dive onto some small fish. The Killdeer and Sandpipers scatter as a Coopers Hawk glides over the area heightening the tension in this otherwise quiet location.

Time passes as the darkening skies make for difficult observations. It’s time to move on. Sometimes even if I can only get a few hours of birding a week lately is better than nothing. And with vacation just days away I’m sure I will make up for the lack of birding lately.

New/ Old Field Guide

My sister and husband returned from a trip out west a month ago and brought back with them a surprise for me. A few weeks passed before we could get together and the gift completely slipped my mind. So when she handed me the bag you wouldn’t have believed the look on my face when I opened it.

IMG_2996A 1946 1st. Edition Audubon Bird Guide/ Eastern Land Birds

It may not be in mint condition, however the plates are all there and after viewing all the pictures I thought I would share with my readers some of the best pictures in the field guide. Besides being beautiful plates, it’s the names of the birds and how they’ve changed over the decades.

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A Birders Haiku

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

Pirouettes at dusk

the silent nighthawk

casts a moon shadow