Notes From The Field

Cincinnati Christmas Bird Count 2013

I awoke Sunday morning at 3:00 am, the morning of the Christmas Bird Count, with the sound of the predicted rain on my roof. By now the thought of having my lower body drenched on this cold and windy day wasn’t needed.

Where are my rain pants? I had everything else assembled but not my rain pants. Through all the years I was a Boyscout Leader, and all the countless camp-outs I went on, my rain pants were always the one item I had to go searching for every time. They never wound up where they were supposed to be, which was with my rain jacket. Makes sense right? Well believe it or not the first place I looked, (and where they should live when not in use) I found them. Plus an extra pair for my oldest son who was accompanying me for his first bird count.

Cold and rainy was the order of the day. And as the day wore on subtle hints of the Sun tried to tease us, but to avail. We pick up birding companion Jon at 7:15 and then drove to our rendezvous point at a United Dairy Farmers store in Newtown Ohio. This is where we meet up with fellow birders and went over a few of the nuances of doing a bird count. I volunteered to drive and picked up Joe Bens who was a team leader for the area we were covering for the day.

I wish I has some sort of aerial map of the area we covered for the bird count. But according to Joe it’s an hour glass shape area which covers a large portion of the Little Miami River valley. Communities like Newtown, Camp Dennison, Milford, Terrace Park, portions of Indian Hills, Loveland were all ours. For Joe, Jon and myself this was perfect. We were all familiar with this area, especially Joe who knew the roads like the back of his hand.

It truly is one great river valley teaming with countless gravel quarries, open meadows, public parks, secluded roadways, and backwater streams that feed into the Little Miami. A great place to bird!

The day was pretty much driving from location to another and either wait by the car and bird from there, or walking around a much larger area after stopping. Always making sure not to trespass on private property. This may be a great place to bird, however the vast majority is owned by one individual who owns a rather large landscape business. Plus most of the larger quarries where so much of the waterfowl population like to hang out. So needless to say getting close and peering into these quarries without getting busted was always a challenge.

You see we were the group with the responsibility to come away with the greatest portion of the waterfowl count, since we had an area with the most water. An who doesn’t like ducks, right?

So from Sun-up, to Sun-down we drove all over our designated area, some places more than once as we counted away. I figured we drove over 60 miles and walked over 8 miles. It was a tiring day at the end but was it fun. It was great to bird with Joe, who I knew but never birded with. And even though my son David was pretty quiet because I think being a beginner like he is, being with people who can ID birds really quickly can be a humbling experience. When I first started going out with larger group of birders and not sure of my own abilities, I stayed pretty much quiet and tried to absorb as much info from others as possible.

It finally quit raining around noon. Lunch came and went at Wendy’s with a bowl of chili and a burger. Birds were ticked off for the day list, as the day settled into dusk. We ended the day in a Cedar grove at a local Indian Hill park trying to get a Barred Owl to return Joe and Jon’s call.

All good things must come to an end, and when I checked the grand total from all the groups out for the Christmas Count we came away with 92 species. Which is 3 away from the record set last year. Some notable birds were missing from this year, especially waterfowl. Northern Pintail, Greater & Lesser Scaup, and Green-winged Teal. Bizarre!

Anyway, this is our list for the day.

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Tundra Swan
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Canada Goose
  5. Cackling Goose
  6. Mallard
  7. Ring-necked Duck
  8. Common Goldeneye
  9. Ruddy Duck
  10. Gadwall
  11. American Wigeon
  12. Northern Shoveler
  13. Black Duck
  14. Redhead
  15. Hooded Merganser
  16. American Coot
  17. Pied-billed Grebe
  18. Red-tailed Hawk
  19. Red-shouldered Hawk
  20. American Kestrel
  21. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  22. Bald Eagle
  23. American Robin
  24. Northern Cardinal
  25. Tufted Titmouse
  26. Carolina Chickadee
  27. Eastern Bluebird
  28. Carolina Wren
  29. Eastern Towhee
  30. Hairy Woodpecker
  31. Downy Woodpecker
  32. Pileated Woodpecker
  33. Northern Flicker
  34. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  35. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  36. House Finch
  37. House Sparrow
  38. American Goldfinch
  39. Song Sparrow
  40. American Tree Sparrow
  41. Chipping Sparrow
  42. White-throated Sparrow
  43. White-crowned Sparrow
  44. Field Sparrow
  45. Great Blue Heron
  46. Blue Jay
  47. Belted Kingfisher
  48. Bufflehead
  49. Dark-eyed Junco
  50. Cedar Waxwing
  51. Great Horned Owl
  52. White-breasted Nuthatch
  53. Mourning Dove
  54. Pigeon
  55. European Starling
  56. Red-winged Black Bird
  57. Wild Turkey
  58. Ring-billed Gull
  59. Northern Mockingbird
  60. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  61. Common Grackle
  62. American Crow
  63. Brown Creeper

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