Notes from the Field

Caesar Creek State Park & Spring Valley Wildlife Area

Finally, after how many weeks I found some time to get some birding in. Even though it was for just a few hours it felt good. Despite the fact that the gutters needed to be de-leaved Jon and myself hit the Caesar Creek circuit with enthusiasm. Cleaning the gutters will have to wait.

We left the house at 8:00 am and headed northeast along route 22/3 towards Caesar Creek. Reports are starting to filter in on some duck movement and our first stop will be the Harveysburg Road overlook of the lake. If your not familiar with Caesar Creek Lake one of the things you might notice is that roads just dead end at the lake. In the 1970’2 when they dammed up Caesar Creek to create this 2,830 acre lake homes and communities were destroyed. Homes of historic significance were moved to the Pioneer Village. However when the lake level rose, the roads stayed. And Harveysburg Road is one such road. A great vantage point to view a large portion of the lake. However the day proved to be a bust when it comes to ducks. Bonaparte’s Gulls, Common Loons, and a pair of Horned Grebes were the only birds seen.

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It was interesting to watch this one Common Loon as it feed. The Bonaparte’s Gulls were harassing it as it dove to feed. It looked like they were feeding on the scraps of whatever was left over of what the Loon kicked up.

Bored with the obvious duck nothingness of the lake, we headed off the the far end of the lake to the Mounds Road mudflats. We parked at the turn a round and made our short walk back towards the lake. The mudflats were virtually empty except for a few Killdeer and a Great Blue Heron, however the show of birds were above us. Passerines were everywhere. Brown Creepers, Butter-butts, Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, and loads of Golden-crowned Kinglets. I can’t remember the last time I saw this many concentrated in this one small area. It certainly a nice distraction from the lack of waterfowl on the lake.

As we stood looking up towards this wonderful sight of avian beauty the urge to move on finally overcame us. With the passing minutes, and the chore list still staring me in the face, we moved on to Spring Valley Wildlife Area. Since Jon was driving I showed him the best way to get there from where we were. Since I bird in the area more than he does knowing the back roads helps in shortening up the travel time between stops.

Since Spring Valley is a Wildlife Area hunting does occur, especially during Autumn. Yesterday was no exception when we ran into Squirrel hunters. We first checked out the bird blind. No food in the feeders, no birds. The walk down hill towards the marsh was uneventful as a few Swamp Sparrows played hide-n-seek with us. We walked the boardwalk slowly, stopping and listening as we made our way towards the observation platform, with it’s newly repaired guard rail.

The wind started to kick up as we made our way on. “Chip” notes were heard, but no birds. Birding can be a challenge here. You know that there are birds deep within the reeds, so patience will pay off for you eventually. As it did today as we were walking back down the boardwalk. As we were about to step off Jon heard something similar to a Red-winged Blackbird call note, but softer. With the wind in my ears I heard nothing till I strained against the wind. Then we heard it it sing. Softly, unlike we they sing in the Spring. But it was the unmistakable song of a Marsh Wren. A late Marsh Wren. But just like last year Jon and myself were able to prove that Marsh Wrens do winter over at Spring Valley and the bird today was a good sign of it repeating again.

We located where it was singing from and waited till we spotted it after a few “pishes” from Jon. Confirmed. We were happy. I think repeat visits to the boardwalk throughout the winter will be necessary to confirm that they do winter over every year.

As the afternoon wore on and the decision to leave was made we were treated to the flute-like, melodic voice of a Hermit Thrush was heard. This time of year it really is unusual to here these birds sing, but there he was sitting on a branch singing ever so softly. And when I went to grab my spotting scope and camera, he disappeared. Which is always the case.

Well it was a good day, even with no waterfowl to look at. And as we made our way home the discussion came up again about a birding trip to Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in a couple of years. More on that as the time approaches, until then here is the bird count for the day.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Ring-billed Gull
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull
  3. Common Loon
  4. Pied-billed Grebe
  5. Horned Grebe
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Res-shouldered Hawk
  8. Turkey Vulture
  9. Black Vulture
  10. American Coots
  11. American Robin
  12. Eastern Bluebird
  13. American Goldfinch
  14. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  15. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  16. Brown Creeper
  17. Northern cardinal
  18. Blue Jay
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. Northern Flicker
  21. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  22. Pileated Woodpecker
  23. Hermit Thrush
  24. American Crow
  25. Tree Swallow
  26. Dark-eyed Junco
  27. Northern Mockingbird
  28. Double-creasted Cormorant
  29. Tufted Titmouse
  30. Marsh Wren
  31. Carolina Wren
  32. Carolina Chickadee
  33. Great Blue Heron
  34. Cedar Waxwing
  35. Killdeer
  36. Song Sparrow
  37. White-throated Sparrow
  38. Swamp Sparrow
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One response to “Notes from the Field

  1. Pingback: Day 30 – 11.23.13 | wenditsworld

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