Monthly Archives: April 2018

“Upcoming Trip”

Every year about this time I partake on a pilgrimage to northern Ohio along the shore of Lake Erie for the Spring migration of Neoptropic birds. One place in particular draws birders from all over the world, Magee Marsh and it’s famous boardwalk. Granted there are other noteworthy places to bird all around the area, but the sheer concentration of birders in this one area is something you have to experience to either appreciate of avoid. Because of the large quantity of birders to this part of the state, the boardwalk in particular can become almost impossible to navigate at times.

For me this is a love-hate relationship. I love the birds and having access to them via the boardwalk, however I’m not a big fan of the crowds. That’s why when I do go It’s usually real early in the morning and I leave by lunch time. However this year there’s a change in the air. I’m forgoing Lake Erie to go birding in one of my absolute favorite places. Where the birds (especially the warblers) are different because of their environment. The skulking birds. The ones you hear before you see. The birds that are more common here than up by Lake Erie. I’m talking about Red River Gorge in Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky.

I’ll be camping at Natural Bridge State Park where I’ll be setting up my base and plan my hikes. This trip I’ll be focusing on Swainson’s, Worm-eating, Hooded, Kentucky Warblers, Waterthrush are always present as well Tanagers and Thrushes. This is more of a birding/photographic journey. These are birds that have eluded me and my camera and with their concentration here I’m hoping for good luck.

So stayed tuned…more to come.

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“On The Road”

Life Bird #450

Yes, the above statement is true, I’ve hit the 450 mark in life birds. Just when I thought it would take a while for this to happen after spotting the Cinnamon Teal giving me 449 species. If you remember it was on the 29th of March when I drove those 3 plus hours into Ohio’s Amish country (somewhere I’ve never visited before) to track down that beautiful Drake Cinnamon Teal.

Well for the life of me I never thought that I would be venturing back into what can only be described as very rural Amish Country in this “bird crazy” month of April. And I mean crazy. Just in the past few weeks we’ve had a fly over Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, never relocated. A 1st year male Painted Bunting, a breeding male Western Tanager, of course the Cinnamon Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and a White-winged Dove. This is the stuff that makes birders’ head swim with excitement. However I showed great control since I’ve ticked these birds off my “Life List” already. It’s not that I’m lazy, but I have to be picky over which bird to chase.

Well the chase was on when just 2 days ago 2 bothers went fishing at this small farm pond over in the heart of Holmes County Ohio. Among the rolling hills, horse drawn buggies, dirt roads, Amish children on bikes, friendly waves, and clothes drying on the lines, they discovered a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

I never thought in a million years that the bird would stick around till the next day, but that old “twitch” kept nagging at me. So after Kathy went to work I grabbed my gear and left the house at 7:30 in hopes of putting some miles down. My plan was to pull over a few times and check Facebook to see if it was still being seen. If it was, then I’m in good position with miles covered. If not, then I just turn around and go home. Well it stayed through the night and this really helped my mood.

My GPS took me through some of the nicest parts of Ohio I’ve ever seen, but on some of the worst back roads the bird-mobile has been on. After getting turned around once, I finally made it to this nondescript dirt drive where I noticed a couple cars pulling out. This has to be it. Not too many cars in this part of Ohio.

“Yes, “the bird is still there” came her reply to my obvious question. Testing the suspension on the drive back, I finally pulled off and parked. I pulled on my harness and clicked in my bins and camera and walked over to where 2 guys were busy focusing their cameras on what can only be the bird.

Hooray for Lifers!

 

Notes From The Field

The Eared Grebe ( Podiceps nigricollis ) is a fairly common bird west of the Mississippi River, however on an annual basis we here in Ohio will have a stray show up. And as usual birders start showing up as well to tick this difficult bird off their “Year List”. For myself I don’t keep “Year Lists” but I do enjoy putting the old bins om this bird and maybe getting a decent photograph.

The bird was located at Eastwood Metro Park in the heart of Dayton Ohio. I’ve visited this park in the past and it’s not too far away, about 45 minutes.  Before I made up my mind to go I consulted one of my favorite books, “Identify Yourself, The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges” In it there’s a really good section on Grebes.

This time of year Eared Grebes are usually seen either by themselves or with another, mixed in with Horned Grebes. And if they’re actively feeding just keeping up with them so you can get a positive ID can prove difficult. To quote from the book “The most useful differences between Horned and Eared Grebes in non-breeding plummage are the pattern of the head and throat and the size and shape of the bill”.

With that in mind, off I went. I arrived before the park even opened as well as some other birders. Besides the Eared Grebe there were reports of a Red-throated Loon. Well no Red-throated Loon was spotted, however the Eared Grebe was there.

What I love about the above photograph is that you can really see the slight upturned bill, which is a great identifier for Eared Grebe.

After searching this side of the lake for the Loon with no luck, I drove down to the to search, with no luck. As I started to drive back once again I noticed this birder taking pictures at a Common Loon really close to these docks by the boat launch area. I pulled over and parked and grabbed my camera.

In all my years of birding I’ve never been this close to a Common Loon, or any Loon for that matter. It had to of known we were there, but were no threat because it just kept feeding as I snapped off picture after picture.