Category Archives: “On The Road”

“The oft traveled road, wherever it may go, refreshes the spirit”.

“On The Road” Third Times The Charm

Galloway Ohio is one of those sleepy little communities that’s trying to hold onto it’s rural roots as urban sprawl knocks at it’s door. A combination of farms and homes on large lots speckle the landscape in this area just southwest of the circle highway surrounding Columbus Ohio. As a matter of fact this area holds one of my favorite birding spots, Battelle-Darby Metro Park.

I believe it was last Saturday when Cheryl B. noticed an unusual hummingbird at her feeder just outside in the backyard. Notifying her friend Jen A. they were then able to contact a certified hummingbird bander, that was able to safely net and then band the bird. They were then able to make the correct identification of a state first Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Word went out on Ohio Chase Bird Facebook page that visitors are welcome. Parking, viewing area, and birding etiquette was needed to be observed. Since the home owners worked they had to set up strict visitation hours for the week. By the time I read the post last Monday several hours had already passed.

I gathered my gear together and looked at a map to give me an idea of where the bird was located. It was about a 90 minute drive and 4 pm was the time they were closing it down for the day. I arrived a little after 2 pm and waited. And waited. And waited. It was a long drive home empty handed, however I was determined to go back the next day. Visitation was starting at 10 am and i was going to be there at that time.

The nest day prior to leaving I checked Facebook for any updates on the bird. It was feeding at 8:30. The wind was howling that day and with the temps in the 30’s that morning I had to dress up like it was winter. I arrived a little after 10 am, set up my spotting scope and waited as the wind wiped everyone there. With visitation ending at 4 pm, I decided to call it quits by 3:15 pm with the bird not showing up once.

Wednesday I needed to stay home and get somethings done and run some errands. And as you’d expect Facebook was lite up with the bird coming to the feeder on multiple occasions. My frustration grew on missing the bird again and the fact that they weren’t allowing birders to visit on Thursday or Friday. This left only this weekend to run up again.

Yesterday morning in the rain I drove once again back to tick off this bird. You were allowed to visit starting at 9 am, so I arrived just after 9. I noticed 3 guys packing it in, and i asked if the bird was showing up. They told me it was very active and they set up a second feeder for the bird.

I pulled in, unloaded, walked over to the group of birders congregated in the viewing area, and set my scope towards the new feeder. Within 2 minutes the bird showed up and I was finally able to check off this bird.

Don’t be too judgmental on the terrible photo, it was still raining and it was a good distance away.

State First

With everything going on this year, it’s no wonder that I’ve been super lazy when it comes to updating this blog. It’s not that I’ve not been birding, I have. Just not lately. I did a good amount in the Spring as migrants moved through but it’s not the same. I miss going to Lake Erie for the big birding festival and battle the people on the boardwalks at Magee Marsh, and other hot spots along the lake.

And since the focus was staying at home and social distancing I immersed myself into my gardens. And since this is a blog about birding, know one wanted to hear about my gardening exploits.

All that came to a screeching halt on the 25th of August when a local Akron birder was visiting a local reservoir. He was there in the evening time close to sunset to watch the Purple Martins congregate into this huge flock of as they swarm. As my buddy Phil said, “A mosquito hasn’t a chance on this lake”. And as I watched several videos of this happening it was really quite exciting especially for the people in their kayaks which had front row seats of this spectacle.

The birders name was Henry T., and as he was waiting for the Purple Martins to start swarming he spotted a large brownish bird flying over the lake. He watched as it dove, return to the air, float of the water, and eventually fly over to a dead tree and perch. As his mind was turning as what this bird might be, it was after watching it closely on it’s perch he identified it as a juvenile Brown Booby.

So as you can imaging this bird became an overnight sensation. Birders were coming up from Kentucky and down from Michigan just to see this bird. And it has not disappointed. Always returning to it’s perch along the shore of the lake in the same dead tree, it’s close proximity to a parking lot and short walk in the woods has enabled birders to check off a pretty rare bird. Myself included.

Myself and Phil pulled out his driveway at 6 am for the 3 hour drive. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful bird.


Burrowing Owl

Yesterday I drove 4 1/2 hours for this 1st ever recorded Burrowing Owl for Kentucky. Being present for almost 2 weeks this bird has drawn a lot of attention. What’s so unusual about this owl is where it’s hiding. Not in the usual burrow as you might think, but in a crack of asphalt on top of a road culvert.


Time clicked away as the Owl sit in it’s crack, always scanning. It was about the time I was leaving when a farmer on his ATV drove by that the bird spooked out of it’s hole.  It returned to the road before hopping into it’s crack when I got a few more photos.

” On The Road” for Life Bird #464

Treaty Line Road, Liberty Indiana

Phalaropus fulicarius, or commonly known as Red Phalarope has been kind of a pseudo-nemesis bird for me. I feel it’s the most difficult bird of the 3 Phalarope species to spot inland no matter what time of the year it is. I’ll hear about sightings of them along Lake Erie, however those sightings seem to be of birds in flight as they’re passing through during migration. Last year in the Autumn we had a particularly strong storm that came out of the north with north to south winds. A Red Phalarope dropped in at the beach at East Fork State Park for the remainder  of the day, and by the time I got there early the next day it was gone.

So needless to say searching out this particular species would be pointless around where I live, and opportunities aren’t necessarily showing up, it came as quite a surprise to read on the Indiana Rare Bird Alert that one dropped in at the mudflats along Treaty Line Road. And it doesn’t surprise me that it would be here, because this spot can be Hot, with a capitol “H”.

Having read the post Saturday evening I told myself that it’s probably just another one day wonder and it’ll be gone by the morning. But when morning came along during my second cup of coffee I read that it stayed through the night. Off I went on another chase.

The drive over was uneventful even though my stupid GPS took me all on back roads and with hardly any gas left in the tank I limped in a gas station in Liberty Indiana. A couple of minutes after hanging up the nozzle I turned onto  Treaty Line Road. You have to drive almost to the end before you’re able to view the mudflats. The lack of cars at the viewing area wasn’t a good sign. I noticed a pick-up that had turned around and was heading back. I stopped and aked if he was there for the Phalarope and did he see it. He did and then he said it had flown off. My heart sank and I felt sicker than I already was.

I was still going to check it out. It was a long drive and worth the effort I thought. David, the guy in the pick-up truck, had a familiar name and one I’d seen with postings on Facebook. We struck up a conversation while I got my spotting scope up and started to scan. It took no more than a few minutes before I was able to re-locate the bird. JACKPOT!

The bird was really far of and these 2 photos don’t do any justice to the actual bird. But it’s a far cry better than having no pictures, like the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that I saw a week or so ago.

There’s Always A First Time

I’m a pretty avid reader of the ABA Blog, and I always love reading the Rare Bird Report. All those really cool birds that people spot and take photos of that are always in other people’s back yards, never yours. Now one bird I’ve seen reports on through the years was of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Usually you read about these birds while folks are birding in Alaska somewhere. Never in a million years would one show up, at least not literally, in my back yard.

This last Saturday my wife and myself were on our way to Detroit to baby sit our Grandson while our daughter and husband ran in the Detroit Marathon on Sunday. While getting settled in on Saturday afternoon I opened up Facebook at the various  birding pages I belong to, and lo and behold, someone spotted a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (ABA Code 3) at Killdeer Plains NWR northwest of Columbus. I’ve birded there before and it’s massive, covering 9,000 acres.

The predicament I was in was that I didn’t have any of my gear. No binoculars, spotting scope, or camera. Why would you carry all this when you’re just going to babysit? The bird stayed around Saturday and Sunday. and as Monday dawned I told my wife we’re taking a side trip to look for the bird. With a bird like this there were going to be plenty of birders that would take pity on me.

When we stopped in Bowling Green to grab some coffee I checked Facebook again, and sure enough the bird was still there. It took another 2 hours to get to Killdeer Plains because everything was pretty much 2 lane roads all the way there.

I found a lady who felt sorry for me and let me look through her scope, and there it was. Life Bird #463

Sorry, no pictures.

Maine 2019

Despite being out of commission with my broken ankle, I’m on the road to a full recovery. I’m still under the care of my orthopedic doctor and I’m now wearing a walking boot instead of being in a cast and using a knee scooter. And it was the best I could have hoped for as my trip to Maine was upon me. And now that I can walk around easier than before, my focus turned towards the whale watching trip out of Bar Harbor with the possibility of some new life birds.

This area of the country is drop dead beautiful! It’s vistas like this every morning from the porch of the house we rented overlooking Penopscot Bay that says it all.

The drive to Bar harbor took about 90 minutes and when we arrived at the dock the boat was already packed with people. It was a cool sunny day and as we settled in for the ride out the Captain warned us about how choppy it was going to get the further out we went. Despite the water conditions and how choppy it might get, my concern was my footing and balance while wearing my walking boot. And as it turned out getting any photograph of the birds proved to be very difficult.

My main concern was finding and identifying the birds, and getting any photo was the last. Our destination on this trip was Mt. Desert Rock and as we cruised towards this lonely island I scanned constantly for birds while holding on for dear life with one hand. And when I did spot a bird it was normally gone by the time i got my camera up.

Mt. Desert Rock

On the way towards My. Desert Rock I was able to check off Sooty Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Atlantic Puffin, Northern Fulmer, and Black Gallinule. As we circled the island I was able to locate a juvenile Great Cormorant. Large flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes dodged in front of the boat and Great Black-backed, Herring and Laughing Gulls soared overhead.

Northern Gannet

Common Murre

Common Eider

So I picked up 6 new species for my life list, which far exceeded my expectations. My list now stands at 462, and with my trip to Arizona next summer I should be able to break that 500 mark.