Category Archives: Notes from the Field

Notes From The Field

We all know that “Life” can certainly get in the way of some of our favorite past times, and I’m no exception. My first Grand Child was born and visiting with    him up in Michigan does cut into birding time. Then I was sick with Walking Pneumonia, which took several weeks to finally get over.

Our last child moved out of the house to Georgia and I had to help with that move. My wife and myself had some minor surgical procedures that cut into any birding time available. And when I did go birding it was usually up to Caesar Creek State Park to scan for ducks.

WHEW, I’m exhausted, and in  need of Spring.

So for the past week Pine Warblers have taken up residence at Mitchell Memorial Forest and with it being such a beautiful day I had to take off to check it out.

Pine Warblers are some of the first warblers that show up in the Spring. In the past I’ve had reasonable luck with locating them, but when they’re consistently in one location I’m all over it, especially since I don’t have any pictures of one.

After arriving it didn’t take long to locate one. All I had to do was listen for a song very similar to a Chipping Sparrow, but sweeter.

 Sometimes all we’re going to get is a shot like this, from below, however diagnostic of the species.

Then one of these little beauties flew in a small tree that was just beginning to flower about 20 feet away. Holy cow, how lucky can one get!



Notes From The Field

Grand Valley Preserve

Jon and myself only had a couple of hours of birding yesterday so we didn’t want to squander any minute. We first went to Grand Valley to check on the ducks. As it turns out this preserve which in the past has held vast numbers of birds was totally void. Granted there was some ice covering the lake, however there was enough open water for something.

I wonder if these 2 Bald Eagles had anything to do with this?

Yes, I’m still Alive….Barely

As the title implies it has been a pretty rough 4 weeks for myself. A series of events have kept me sidelined from doing what I enjoy the most. And now that the month has settled down I hope to get back to doing some birding.

First let’s start with the good news. I’m a Grandfather. My daughter delivered a 8 lb 2 oz baby boy named Graham and we’re all very happy. For myself it was kind of bitter sweet since at the time of the delivery I was laid up with walking pneumonia. I felt so bad there was no way for me to make the 4 hour drive to Detroit. So my wife went and kept me up to date. And for the pneumonia, it’s been hanging on now for a little over 3 weeks. Needless to say I’m really tired of it.

On Christmas Eve, still feeling ill from the pneumonia, I had to check out one of our down spouts on the house. I thought it had been clogged with leaves and it really needed to be cleared out. A simple task that should only take a few minutes. I live in a ranch house so I wasn’t up on the ladder very far when the whole thing slid out from under me taking me to the ground, hitting really hard. Fortunately there were no broken bones but I’ve been sore. My left arm is still sore and it’s been a couple weeks since the accident.

Oh, and let’s not forget the holidays. We were real busy as I’m sure everyone was.

So today I told myself I’m going out to do a little birding. Armleder Park is hosting a Snow Bunting and some Lapland Longspurs mixed in with a small flock of Horned Larks.

 Lapland Longspur

Snow Bunting with Lapland Longspur

Notes From The Field/ New Lifer

Yesterday evening while my wife and I were visiting a local Cincinnati brewery with another couple, my Belgian Quad consumption was interrupted by my birding associate Jon with a text.

Next is how our conversation went.

Jon: Female King Eider found at Crooked Run today by Don Morse

Les: Holy Cow.   You chasing it?

Jon: I would love to but not unless Samantha (wife) changes her mind. I’d like to be out there at dawn.       We’ll see.      Check the Cincinnati birders Facebook page- there’s photos.

Les: Saw the picture. This is worth chasing

Jon:  Seems legit

Les: Let me know. I’m willing to run after it

Jon: I’m working on it…probably meet you out there early if I can get the necessary approval here.             I’d bring Phoebe (child) as part of my negotiations.

Les: Kathy (my wife) said go, so I’m leaving early and try to be there by dawn.

So as you can see this is how our conversation went last evening. And yes Jon, Phoebe and myself were able to tick off King Eider as another lifer. This is the 2nd sighting of a King Eider in Ohio this year. Just a few weeks ago another one was sighted on Lake Erie, so seeing this one on the Ohio River is very exciting for all area birders.

The weather conditions on the river were very foggy, and getting sharp clear photos this morning was next to impossible. Granted I could have waited around for a few more hours, however I have stuff to get done today.

Life Bird # 448


Notes From The Field

There are 3 species of North American Scoters, the Black, Surf, and White-winged. For us in Ohio they can be a common bird seen mostly on Lake Erie. They do wander south of the lake but with usually with irregularity. Last year for instance during my January 100 Species Challenge I was able to tick off both Surf and Black Scoters at a Metropark in Dayton. And towards the end of this year the northern half of the state is seeing the most of the 3 Scoter species.

However the day before Thanksgiving I noticed a small sighting post on our local bird watching Facebook page of a Black Scoter at the beach at Caesar Creek State Park. This really peaked my interest since Black Scoters are the rarest of the 3 in my opinion. But with the holiday staring me in the face with those last minute preparations I was unable to chase this bird till yesterday.

My first stop however was Cowan Lake State Park to check out the reports of a pretty reliable Long-tailed Duck that was seen on some sediment settling ponds that were being used for all the dredging that’s going on at the lake. I dipped on the duck and later found out that it was scared off by a Bald Eagle and never came back.

So after Cowan Lake I made my way of to Caesar Creek and hope for better luck. I parked my car and approached the south half of the beach. After 100 yards I set up my scope and started to scan. Nothing as I scanned from the north to the south. The sun was still rising and the glare on the water really burned to retinas. A I continued to scan towards the new marina I saw one lone bird on the water.

This really couldn’t be the Black Scoter, could it?

As I moved closer to the lake with a better angle out of the sun I was able to get my scope on the bird. And indeed it was a Black Scoter.

I stayed with the bird for about 50 minutes as it moved the length of the beach, and me trying to get a closer photo. Despite all my efforts this distant shot was all I could get of what I think is a great bird.

Notes From The Field

On a recent trip to Ellis Lake, I came upon this beauty.

These are some of the hardest birds to spot since they only move through during migration. So our window of opportunity is small to find and locate this beautiful Nelson’s Sparrow