Daily Archives: January 6, 2014

New Life Bird for 2014

It’s minus 5 degrees below zero outside, with a wind chill in the minus 20+ degrees. School systems all over the state are closed due to this blast of arctic air. So what a great time to go birding.  And not just any birding mind you, cold weather birding which is a different animal altogether. We’re not grabbin’ our bins and flying out the door. No, we have to put some thought into this madness. But this is a life bird, and it’s really, really close to home this time. A Glaucous Gull is a good bird for me to chase, so I pulled on my long underwear and headed out to where it was first sighted, Sunsite Lake.

This small lake is right next to the Great Miami River, with East River Road bisecting both. A large flock of geese and gulls were on the river which I scanned as soon as I got there in spite of the fact the gull was located elsewhere. No Gull on the river. Move down to the lake and scan there. No Glaucous Gull there, only a few Herring Gulls and a couple dozen Ring-billed Gulls.

Back to the river where I meet another birder looking for the same bird. He scans and sees nothing. We talk a little and he tells me he’s waiting for a friend to show up. As the cold was getting unbearable we went into our respective cars to warm up. While in my car I’m still looking at various gulls coming in to land. After several minutes of this I notice one gull that didn’t have the black primaries like all the other gulls. Both Herring and Ring-billed Gulls have black primary feathers, however this bird didn’t despite the brief glimpse. I pulled on my hat and gloves and grabbed my bins for a quick look. The wind was coming off the river right into your face. It was horrible. I scanned the flock of gulls on the opposite side of the river and notice one gull bathing. No black primaries. Glaucous Gull. I race back to grab my scope and camera, and to tell the other birder it was here. We both settle in on it as his friend pulls up. We all three get good looks at it, regardless of the bad photo I took.

IMG_3424Right in the center with it’s head turned. Pink legs and white primaries., Glaucous Gull. Lifer 334

And believe it or not this road I was on also produced Snow Buntings, and a Fox Sparrow. And on the drive home I picked up a Horned Lark by the side of the road. So my new January 100 Species counts is”

  • Glaucous Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Snow Bunting
  • Horned Lark
  • Fox Sparrow

71 species to date.

January 100 Species Challenge

Saturday was so beautiful in the Ohio Valley with bright blue sky and intense sunlight that the glare was almost too much as Jon and myself were trying to make out a lone Greater White-fronted Goose out of the thousands of Canadian Geese at Grand Valley. Unlike today which is so cold I’m debating not chasing the Glaucous Gull sighted near Dayton. But that’s another story.

Jon sent me a message Friday evening asking if I was going out on Saturday. He had said that he was joining up with a group that was doing the East Fork State Park Christmas Count, so this came as a nice surprise. So I meet at his house at 7:30 in the morning and hit the road. Today we were going to cover pretty much the same ground we surveyed during the Christmas count we did just a week earlier. Turnover in  the Little Miami River Valley is a constant during the Winter and both a White-winged Scoter and Greater White-fronted Goose were both seen just the day before.

Grand valley was the first place that we went to in hopes of adding the two aforementioned birds and any more that I needed for my January count.

IMG_3401All those little specks are either Canadian Geese of other species of ducks. An amongst all of these is one GWFG.

We set up our scopes and we both started on either end of the flock and started the pain staking task of scanning all the geese (who for the majority were still asleep with their heads tucked) for this one goose. And while doing this trying to pick up a Scoter with all the other diving ducks, which were quite a few as well.

It wasn’t till we meet up with another birder friend who told use that he saw the goose from the top of the hill overlooking the flock. So after exhausting any hope of seeing from lake level, we were off to an area outside the gate that gives a great view of this part of the lake. So we set up again and started to scan. Then the geese got agitated, as small groups started to take off. It was Jon who said the GWFG was up. I tried desperately trying to get my bins on it, until I finally saw it as it flew away. A really good bird for around here.

The rest of the day was spent traveling around hitting all the hot spots. Gravel pits, private lakes, and parks. It was at one such small lake that we got lucky again with both Tundra Swan and Snow Goose.

IMG_3412

IMG_3404

IMG_3420Even though their numbers are greatly reduced during the Winter, Double-creasted Cormorants can still be found. This one was at a marina down near where the Little Miami and Ohio River meet.

We added significant numbers to our day count as well to my January list. Some very common birds are still needed and with any luck I’ll be able to pick them up without too much effort. Will I make 100 species? I hope so.

New birds for the January list include:

  • Canvasback
  • Greater White-fronted Goose
  • Mute Swan ( 3 Swan species so far this year)
  • Snow Goose ( my 4th goose species this year)
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Redhead
  • Greater Scaup
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Common Grackle
  • Ruddy Duck
  • American Wigeon
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Brown Creeper
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Wood Duck
  • Northern Harrier
  • American kestrel
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Double-creasted Cormorant
  • Killdeer
  • Northern Flicker

Total so far is 66 species.