Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 100 Species Challenge/ The End

Tomorrow is the 31st of July and unless there is some divine intervention, my final count will stand at 106 bird species. And what’s kind of frustrating is first my late start for this whole July challenge, and secondly is that are so many birds that I could have sighted that I didn’t.

Let’s take this last Sunday. Despite the forecast of rain on and off for the whole day I still felt the need to drive to some of my favorite hot spots so I could tick off a few more birds. So it was back out onto the highway to the west side of town., particularly Lost Bridge, and Shawnee Lookout Park. Lost Bridge for early migrating shore birds and Cliff Swallows, and Shawnee Lookout for a few more warbler species that summer over in this park. Such as Cerulean, Kentucky, Redstart, Prairie, Blue-winged, and Ovenbird.

Other than picking up Cliff Swallow at Lost Bridge it was a total bust, especially with the rain picking up. You see I neglected to grab my rain jacket when I left so I really didn’t want to be soaked this early in the day with Shawnee Lookout still ahead.

Shawnee wasn’t much better. There were plenty of birds, just not some of the ones I was really depending on. I was wanting to get an early start to the day when my chances were a bit better, but hitting it in the afternoon they weren’t singing as much as I would have liked.

IMG_0942One of the few cooperative birds was this male Eastern Towhee

IMG_0939Female American Redstart

So now after completing 2 different month long challenges so far this year I have to admit that this one was the easiest. The opportunities to pick up so many more bird species may seem smaller than in the spring, however I really could have added 10 to 12 more with an earlier start in the month. January is by far the most difficult after you count up all the duck species that is found around here. After that you don’t have to many birds that you can count on being there. Plus the weather can keep the most intrepid birder at home. I’ll never forget my trip to Dayton to tick off the Glaucous Gull when the wind chill was well below zero. The wind chill in July is measured by the AC hitting you in the face when you walk into the neighborhood mini-mart for something to cold drink.

Bird watching challenges like this keep the hobby fun and exciting. Instead of just going out into the field, you have to re-focus on what species you’re searching for and the habitat where you’ll find them. It sharpens your skill even if you’ve seen the bird hundreds of times before. And with January just 6 short months away it helps you prepare for the cold weather challenge.

So the end is now and with the addition of:

  • Cliff Swallow
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • American Redstart

my total is 106. So remember to challenge yourself every now and then. It does make you feel better about yourself no matter what you attempt.

 

 

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July 100 Species Update

Armleder Park, California Woods, East End

A goal has been reached. This last Sunday turned out a lot better than planned, with plenty of new birds to take me over the 100 species for the month of July. The new birds were

  • Blue Grosbeak

IMG_0927There will come a time when I’ll get a good photo of this elusive Summertime visitor.

  • Black & White Warbler
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Bank Swallow
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • White-eyed Vireo

And with one full weekend left I’m still planning on going out and padding this total of 103 birds. Even if I excluded the 3 species that were specific to the Great Smoky Mountains, those being the Swainson’s Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, and the Black-throated Blue Warbler, I’d still have 100 birds. Challenge complete. However there are still a few more warbler species that I’ll try to pick up probably this Sunday at Shawnee Lookout. So stayed tuned for yet another update.

View From My Front Porch

Since the purchase of my new camera, and the return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, I’ve spent countless hours patiently watching and waiting for some good photo-ops of these birds. I’ve gotten some good one, and I’ve also taken crap. It’s something about fast moving objects that make getting a clear picture difficult. And to capture one as they’re hovering, and stopping the wing beats with a fast shutter speed is ridiculously hard. So for now I’ll settle for some stationary hummers.

IMG_0823The male

IMG_0829The female

Notes From The Field/ July 100 Species Challenge

Spring Valley Wildlife Area/ Caesar Creek State Park

Today’s morning field trip had the sole purpose of bulking up my meager list as July slowly slips away. So with just 12 days to go I had to come up with a serious strategy so I could get the most birds while visiting the fewest places. I first had to write down what summer residents are still here and where is the best place to see them. With what was still needed to complete my July list, there was no doubt where I needed to go this morning. Spring Valley and Caesar Creek. Spring Valley for Rails and Warblers and Caesar Creek for Gulls and Raptors.

I arrived about 7:30 at the boardwalk at Spring Valley. It had rained the night before so the hike down the trail was a slick mess compounded with ruts left by some vehicle. The boardwalk was as slick as the trail, what with it covered with dew and a slimy coating of some type of mold. My focus was on Virginia Rails, Soras and Marsh Wrens, which all three can be either seen or heard from the boardwalk. The secretive and reclusive Virginia Rail has been seen with some juveniles earlier this week so I know they’re here. It’s just finding them.

I make my way to the observation tower and listen intently for any of these 3 birds calling.

IMG_0834Looking back along the boardwalk at Spring Valley

IMG_0835Looking towards the lake in the distance. Which at the time is choked with water lilies.

I’m striking out! I’m not hearing my target birds, let alone see them. So I climb down from the tower and make my way back to my favorite spot along the boardwalk. There’s an open area about 50 feet before you get to the tower which in the past has proven to be the go-to spot for Rails.

IMG_0855It doesn’t look like much of an opening, but if your going to get a clear view of either a Sora or a Virginia Rail, this is the place.

Then I see movement as I approach the clearing. It’s an adult Virginia Rail. Then I notice behind the adult, coming  out of the tall grass a juvenile. HOLY COW!

I reach for my camera

IMG_0843The camera wanted to focus on the grass in front of the birds, not the birds. It was very frustrating. However there’s my proof. So for an hour I jockeys around trying to get pictures as the juveniles cooperated with getting their pictures taken, while the adult keep a little more secluded.

IMG_0839This was the best I could do at capturing the adult.

IMG_0886The juvenile skulking through the marsh.

IMG_0893

IMG_0896

IMG_0907

After this very successful sighting of these beautiful Virginia Rails, I climbed back up the trail to my car to head over to the lake side of the preserve and begin my hike on the Loveland Bike Trail. It’s from this trail where I know I can find a Bald Eagle and tick off another bird.

Which I do.

There are some marshy areas that run along the side of the bike trail which is popular with Prothonotary Warbler and Soras.

Tick off a few more species.

IMG_0915Prothonotary Warbler

The morning was waning and I needed to get to Caesar Creek. I didn’t have much time so Harverysburg Road was my go to spot to  see if I could tick off any more birds. With boaters on the water there was no birds on the lake. However I was able to tick off Osprey that was fishing and Ring-billed Gull, which are always here.

How before I went to the Harveysburg Road overlook I stopped at the Mounds Road portion of the lake to see if any mud flat habitat has formed. So as I walked towards the lake I spooked 10 to 12 Great Blue Herons. So as I set up my spotting scope closer to the water, I scanned the sky in the direction of the Herons as they flew away. However one of the birds that was flying wasn’t a Great Blue. It was a Sandhill Crane. A little early for them and definitely an unusual sighting. Sorry no picture.

But the good news is that I added some good birds for the day.

  • Yellow Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Virginia Rail
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Northern Parula
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Great-creasted Flycatcher
  • Sora
  • Bald Eagle
  • House Wren
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Osprey
  • Ring-billed Gull

That leaves me with a total of 92 birds for July.

July 100 Species Challenge Update

Despite the inclement at the time I left the house, I was hoping for a break in the rain as I made my way to Gilmore to pad my July 100 list this evening. I was hoping to add just a couple new birds for the month and with the news of breeding Great Egrets at Gilmore Ponds I naturally thought this place is so much more closer than the Oxbow, that I might as well give it a try.

So as of right now I stand at 78 birds with the addition tonight of

  • Great Egret
  • Willow Flycatcher
  • Blue-winged Teal

Tomorrow I’m off to Spring Valley and Caesar Creek. Time is ticking and it’s the 18th already.

July 100 Species Challenge

Most everyone who birdwatches has heard of the January 100 Species Challenge. Well the gauntlet has been thrown down again, and this time it’s a July challenge. July is one of those months when birding falls off. It’s still too early for migrants to be coming south, and it’s just too hot sometimes to be going out except in the morning. eBird has created their own challenge where if you submit 50 check lists for the month of July you”re eligible for a drawing where you could win a pair of nice Zeiss binoculars. It’s seems that it’s not just Ohio where birding can be slow for the month.
So earlier in the month Paul Hurtado, an important birder in the Ohio birding community, posted on the Ohio Listserv the challenge to come up with 100 species for the month of July. Well at the time I never gave it too much thought till recently. So I started to count in my head all the birds that I”ve seen this month, and I think that I have a good start to meet this challenge and maybe accomplish it.
So this evening I sat down and compiled my list of all the bird species I saw this month. Now granted I did go to Tennessee over the 4th of July, and technically they ‘re still different bird species. So I’m counting them.
After doing some careful counting I came up with 74 species so far. Which isn’t too bad, but can be improved upon. Now I’m thinking of my strategy on how to complete my list before August arrives. In a day or so I”ll share with you all the birds I”ve seen so far. So stay tuned.