Notes From The Field

Little Miami River Valley

Before I start this post I want to first hope everyone has a happy holiday this year. And second I need to explain why I’ve been away for such a long time.

My Mother’s health has been deteriorating since Thanksgiving and with my Sister we’ve been ever vigilant as her side till her passing this last Monday. Needless to say I’ve not been the mood to do any birding, and it took some effort this morning to brave the wind and cold to go out this morning.

It’s times like this that we just have to suck it up and get on with life, and that’s what i did start6ing this morning as i was downing my second cup of coffee on my way to Armleder Park. I figures if I’m going to work the Little Miami River valley the best place to start is furthest from home and work my way back. Not wanting to bird alone  dropped Jon a text message to see if he wanted to join up for the few hours I was spending out.

The morning was cold and gray, with a wind that bit right through your clothes. Face and finger tips were the first to go numb for this frigid morning. Working my way back to the river, Song Sparrows were foraging in the thick brush that lines the paved path. Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Harrier soar on the unrelenting wind hunting for food. Birds were lying low, not showing themselves unless you get too close.

A group of Marines were at the park doing whatever Marines do whenever they get together. From the looks of it a group of Marines were exercising, while another group watched them. The group that was exercising was doing so with just their T-shirts on. Being stationed with Marines while serving in the Navy this kind of behavior doesn’t surprise me in the least. I left them to the cold of the morning as I started up the bird-mobile and the warmth.

I was able to contact Jon and we were to meet at the Newtown Farm Market where other birders had some pretty good luck with a Blue-phased Snow Goose, however upon my arrival the only goose to be seen was a deceased one in the field to the left of the market. With the arrival of Jon a short time later we re-grouped our effort to hit some spots I was less familiar with.

You see the Little Miami River valley is dotted with all sorts of gravel pit operations. An aerial view on Google map reveals a large network of these gravel pits running the length of the river right where we’re planning on birding. Sadly most of these are off limits and not wanting to bring the law down upon us, we stick to the open roads and try our hand at viewing the gravel pits from there.

It was from one of these road side stops that we were watching a large group of Canada Geese flying low over the trees coming in to land on a lake hidden from view. It was in this flock that I first noticed a goose with a grayish body and a white head circling with the other geese. “Snow Goose” I call to Jon. It’s gone just that fast. We make way to our separate cars and head off to a pull off which might give us a view down to this lake.

I’ve pulled off on the shoulder of this road on other occasions to look down into this lake. You stand at the top of this embankment with such a steep side there is no way down safely. And as you stand at the top looking down inside towards the lake your view is obstructed with all the trees that grow around the lake.  Not my idea of an ideal birding location, however we do spot a lone Mute Swan, which seemed out of place and the Snow Goose mixed in with a flock of Canada Geese.

IMG_3343Despite being very far away and I’m shooting this picture through some trees, I think this is a pretty good diagnostic picture of a Blue-phased Snow Goose.

The day was turning into a stop and go kind of birding day. Spending no more than say 30 minutes at any one stop along the way to Grand Valley. And Grand Valley turned out to be the one bright spot for the entire day. Even with all the cold weather we’ve been having there was no ice on the large lake. The one nice thing about having ice on a lake is that all the ducks congregate on any open water they can get their flippers in.

IMG_3347A pair of male Hooded Mergansers trying to impress this one lone female.

IMG_3353First of the season Canvasback

As the morning wore into afternoon my hunger and cold feet halted my day. Time to leave and warm up.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Red-shouldered Hawk
  4. Northern Harrier
  5. Cooper’s Hawk
  6. Northern Cardinal
  7. Blue Jay
  8. Mourning Dove
  9. Eastern Bluebird
  10. American Goldfinch
  11. Dark-eyed Junco
  12. Song Sparrow
  13. White-throated Sparrow
  14. White-crowned Sparrow
  15. American Tree Sparrow
  16. Swamp Sparrow
  17. Great Blue heron
  18. American Crow
  19. Snow Goose
  20. Canada Goose
  21. Pied-billed Grebe
  22. Hooded Merganser
  23. American Coot
  24. American Wigeon
  25. Ring-necked Duck
  26. Mallard
  27. Gadwall
  28. Redhead
  29. Canvasback
  30. Ruddy Duck
  31. Common Goldeneye
  32. Buffelhead
  33. Ring-billed Gull
  34. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  35. White-breasted Nuthatch
  36. Carolina Wren
  37. Belted Kingfisher
  38. Tufted Titmouse
  39. American Robin
  40. American Kestrel
  41. Mute Swan
  42. Killdeer

2 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. I’m sorry for your loss! Birding is good therapy. May God bring you comfort.

  2. Sorry to hear this- loss of a family member isn’t easy. It’s good to get back to a good hobby to help work things out.

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