Late Winter Birding

With the official start of Spring less than 2 weeks away, winter is still holding tight on the Ohio Valley. Earlier this week the area received yet again a fresh covering of snow with temps bottoming out at or near zero degrees.

As temperatures steadily rose towards the end of the week, so did the threat of flooding waters from all the 3 main rivers. But most notable is the Ohio River which is suppose to crest today at flood stage.

It was a frustrating day of birding. My goal for the day was to work the lakes along the Little Miami River south towards the Ohio River, ending at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio Rivers in Covington Kentucky.

My first stop was a Lake Isabella, a small fishing lake that is part of the Hamilton County Parks system. In winters past this can be quite a nice spot for waterfowl, however…

IMG_2120 it was still frozen over today, with only one small area that had open water, which held no birds.

I moved a little more down stream towards Grand Valley Preserve. Despite the fact that it’s a private preserve, there are plenty of vantage points so any non-member can scan the lake. However…

IMG_2121Grand Valley is still frozen over, except for this small hole where some Ring-billed Gulls and American Coots were gathered.

Well it seemed pretty obvious by now that any open water, unless it’s a river, was going to be frozen over. So a time to change tactics was in order. This time I made my way to a nature preserve along the bottom lands sandwiched between the East Fork of the Little Miami and the main branch of the Little Miami River, in a sleepy, but affluent community of Terrace Park.

IMG_2122 Except for the crunch of the snow under my boots, the only birds worth mentioning was your normal backyard birds. Everywhere I went was unusually quiet.

Moving onto Bass Island which sits adjacent to the Little Miami River. This place always floods, however there is a trail where if the water hasn’t risen too much you can keep your feet dry.

IMG_2123Bass Island is one of those little gems where birding can be really good. During Spring migration this can turn into a migrant trap with exception fall out of warblers. But overall a very good spot for your passerines. That is except today. I think my whole mojo is thrown off.

Moving further downstream towards the Ohio River I made a futile stop at Armleder Park.

IMG_2128It could be a couple of weeks before they let anyone back into the park. Scanning the frozen flood waters I was able to spot both Herring and Ring-billed Gulls and Crows.

Despite the fact the birding wasn’t very good, the weather was making a turn for the better. The sun was warm and when you got back into your car you had to roll the windows down to keep from over heating. For myself it was a fair trade-off.

I ended my day searching the flood waters of where the Licking and Ohio come together. This can be a very good spot for duck, however with the rushing waters ducks were absent.

Most of our over wintering ducks will be leaving soon, and with me traveling north to Michigan next weekend, the prospect of finding large pods of ducks will diminish. But with Spring come the migrating song birds, and the cycle continues.



One response to “Late Winter Birding

  1. I admire your persistence.

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