Monthly Archives: February 2014

Rare Bird Alert

This morning while checking my e-mail I noticed a sighting of a Eurasian Wigeon on Lodge Pond at Fernald Preserve. Go check it out before the weather turns bad.

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Notes From The Field

Mehldahl Dam, Chilo Lock, Crooked Run Nature Preserve, East Fork State Park

Well it certainly has been a long time since I’ve been out birding. What with commitments, a nasty head cold, and an above average snow fall this winter, every weekend during the month of February has passed as quickly as it came. So when I heard that this last Saturday was to be warm and sunny I jumped on this opportunity to meet up with Jon and head out for the day. So for this trip we chose to drive down to the Ohio River and see what was happening first at Mehldahl Dam, then drive a little further to Crooked Run and Chilo Lock.

You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day as we turned off Ohio Route 52 onto the Mehldahl Dam complex. Just this past week this area of the river was hopping with waterfowl. Ice still jammed most of the Ohio River near the dam so open water was loaded with lots of ducks. This week was warmer and as the ice melted all the duck dispersed so all that was left on Saturday was a few pockets of ducks here and there along the banks and at the mouths of creeks that flow into the river.IMG_3673                                                                   Mehldahl Dam

After we left Mehldahl Dam it was just a short drive east to Chilo Lock and Crooked Run nature Preserve. It was during our drive that we talked about how many Common Mergansers that have been sighted this far south this Winter. Just like the White-winged Scoter, Common Mergansers tend to stick around the Great Lakes over the Winter. However with this being a particularly cold Winter and ice covering most of the Great Lakes they now seem quite…”Common”.

A good case in point is while at Crooked Run we were walking along the trail with the estuary to our left. As we approached a bird blind we noticed 5 Common Mergansers at very close range, and me without my camera. Now most of the time I might see one a year. However today we must have seen 12.

IMG_3677With the construction of Mehldahl Dam just down stream, Chilo Lock is now a museum, and a great place to view the Ohio River

IMG_3674A poorly digiscoped picture of 1 of the 3 Bald Eagles seen as we pulled into Crooked Run/ Chilo Lock

After we left Crooked Run Nature Preserve it was time for lunch. Refueled, and refreshed we headed over to East Fork State Park. Our destination was the beach and any open water we could find. With a gate blocking our way we had to park the car and walk to short distance downhill to the beach.

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There were lots of ducks at East Fork, unfortunately most of them were on the other side of the lake. And the ones that were close made for some easy picture taking.

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IMG_3682Yet another poorly digiscoped photo of a immature Bald Eagle with something in it’s talons. At such a distance if it wasn’t for the Crows harassing it I wouldn’t have noticed it being on the ice.

As we all know this Winter has been especially cold and snowy. And as the days get longer and the sun stays out just a few minutes longer each week, us birders all long for Spring. Woodcocks are beginning to call. My 2 neighborhood Red-shouldered Hawks have been really vocal lately. And I’m beginning to notice some birds start to sing.

Spring!         It’s almost here.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Red-shouldered Hawk
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Black Vulture
  6. Turkey Vulture
  7. Northern Cardinal
  8. Tufted Titmouse
  9. Carolina Chickadee
  10. American Robin
  11. Carolina Wren
  12. American crow
  13. Common Grackle
  14. Ring-billed Gull
  15. Double-creasted Cormorant
  16. Red-winged Black Bird
  17. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  18. Blue Jay
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. House Sparrow
  21. Tree Sparrow
  22. Hairy Woodpecker
  23. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. White-throated Sparrow
  26. Mourning Dove
  27. Killdeer
  28. Brown Creeper
  29. White-breasted Nuthatch
  30. Eastern Towhee
  31. Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
  32. Redhead
  33. Canvasback
  34. Ruddy Duck
  35. Canada Goose
  36. Common Goldeneye
  37. Greater Scaup
  38. Lesser Scaup
  39. Common Merganser
  40. Red-breasted Merganser
  41. Mallard
  42. Black Duck
  43. Bufflehead
  44. Northern Pintail
  45. Green-winged Teal
  46. Ring-necked Duck
  47. Pied-billed Grebe

Upcoming Events

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As Spring quickly approaches, some local field trips start to pop up. Granted it still might seem like Spring, however if we put our minds to it we might start to feel the warmth and birds singing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014 – 8:00 a.m. – Oxbow Field Trip
Field Trip: Spring Waterfowl Migration (More Details)
Sponsored by: Oxbow, Inc.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 – 8:00 a.m. – Brookville Lake Region
Field Trip: Waterfowl migration and more (More Details)
Sponsored by: Cincinnati Bird Club

Saturday, April 19, 2014 – 8:00 a.m. – Oxbow Field Trip
Field Trip: Spring Migration (More Details)
Sponsored by: Oxbow, Inc.

Friday, May 9, 2014 – 5:00 p.m. – Annual Birdathon
Field Trip: Annual Birdathon – count species for 24 hours (More Details)
Sponsored by: Oxbow, Inc.

Notes From The Field

Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella, part of the Hamilton County Park District is noted more for it’s 28 acre fishing lake than attracting great waterfowl. Being one of the parks in the whole parks system, Lake Isabella is tucked right up to the Little Miami River on one side, and I-275 on the other, and a busy road as frontage. Even before the county took control of the park it was always a pay lake as far as I can remember. My older brother and I used to drive out to go fishing when we were teenagers. It was always an adventure to drive there since the interstate system wasn’t completed yet to this part of Hamilton County.

Now it’s just a short 20 minute drive, which I try to do on a regular basis, especially during the winter. It’s always a good spot to pick up nesting Great Horned Owls, and even some good waterfowl, since there is usually some open water at the lake. Which leads us to the polar vortex.

A recent article on the ABA Blog reveals why certain species are in such abundance this far south. As you probably are well aware of this winter has been especially colder than previous years. And with this comes the freezing over of the Great Lakes. Species which over-winter on these lakes such as the White-winged Scoter and Red-necked Grebe are traveling southward for more open water. So for us in the southern part of the state we are rewarded with more than our fair share of White-winged Scoters.

Every year we have several sightings of the larger of the 3 Scoter species, however this year has been especially good. If you remember there have been several seen on the Ohio River, which helped me make my 100 January species list. Now there is reports of 3 on lake Isabella. So yesterday afternoon after I got off work I made the short drive to see for myself. An afternoon confirmation of them still being there was all I needed to get me going.

The Scoters have been there for several days prior and after some photographic scrutiny it was confirmed that what we had were 2 1st winter male Scoters and 1 adult male.

IMG_3612What I like about this photo is how it shows off the tell-tale “white wing”. Often times this can be concealed and it’s not till either the bird dives or flies away that you see it.

IMG_3636This is the same Scoter as the above picture.

IMG_3666This is the 2nd juvenile male. The coloration and markings are a bit different than the previous pictures.

IMG_3653And this spectacular adult male Scoter is so stunning it almost takes your breath away when you first look upon it at such close range.

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Well as of right now they do seem to be the most photographed birds in the Tri-state area now. Normally we only get to see them from afar, but for the past few days they have been offering such great views that all the photographers are taking advantage of these super conditions. Scoters are such a great species to watch I will hate to see them leave.