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.


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.


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