Category Archives: Rare Bird Alert

Notes From The Field/ Rare Bird Alert

If you haven’t noticed by now I haven’t been doing much birding this summer, hence nothing to post on my blog. If I’ve never mentioned it before, the reason is I’m not a big fan of hot and humid weather, plus with all the rain we’ve been experiencing just reinforces my position on summer birding.

Now if i was going on a trip somewhere near the coast, or some part of the country I’ve not been to, well that’s something entirely different. But I’m not going on vacation someplace cool, and the Ohio valley isn’t very exciting for birds.

However fall migration is starting to kick into gear and that’s worth getting excited about. So when a local birder sighted a Little Blue Heron at Gilmore Ponds yesterday I thought to myself, why not? The weather cooled off and the humidity was dropping, so i made my way over this morning to see if I could re-locate the bird.

Pretty scarce for our area, they do make appearances I wouldn’t say every year, just enough to justify the bird when you’re checking it in on eBird .

Snowy Owls

If you’re like me, I tend to keep my ears open on social media and other birding outlets for anything unusual. This year is no exception as it’s turning into a eruption year for Snowy Owls. For the most part the Owls are being seen along Lake Erie, with a few exceptions. Late last week a Snowy was photographed roosting along the Great Miami River right next to the University of Dayton. The next day myself and others scoured the area with no luck in relocating the Snowy. This bird was the furthest south any Snowy had traveled so far this season. That was until Saturday.

Located on top of a parking lot light at the local Dave and Busters was a Snowy Owl. Now you would think that the female King Eider (which is a lot rarer than a Snowy) would attract more attention since the Eider is still showing down on the river, but you’d be mistaken. There’s something about a Snowy Owl that makes photographers and birders alike start to salivate. Myself, I love the bird and I’ll chase one if it’s relatively close, however I’ll observe the bird and move along. I really don’t want to stress the bird more than it’s already.

So Sunday afternoon I was off to a really busy part of town where there are more shopping malls and strip malls and free standing box stores than you could shake a stick at. Springdale Ohio, in the area where 2 major interstates come together, I-75 and I-275.

Setting my scope up high above the street below, I was able to look across the street and see down on the Costco store roof. And perched 380 yards away (I calculated the distance on Google Earth) on top of a air conditioning compressor was the Snowy.



Rare Bird Alert

Now it has been awhile since I chased a bird, however yesterday evening while relaxing on my front porch I happen to to see the Facebook post of 6 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Gilmore Ponds Metro Park in Butler County Ohio. Well maybe I should have chased them when I first read the post, but being rather comfortable at the time I thought it could wait till the morning. Somehow I thought they might stick around for the night.

So this morning after a couple cups of coffee I headed off to Gilmore Ponds. Now this isn’t a life bird for me, but a pretty rare one nonetheless considering their range. Now Gilmore Ponds doesn’t have a very big parking lot, just enough for maybe a dozen cars. Well when I pulled in it was at the limit.

Well as you’d expect there were plenty of birders looking for them. It seemed they moved during the night. But about 30 minutes later someone noticed that they flew in from somewhere and settled back onto the same log they were sitting on yesterday.

Rare Bird Alert


Brian Wulker reported a lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the rear pond prior to Lost Bridge. Wilderness Road in Stark has been host to loads of these birds the past several days and it seems it’s our turn for a few of these beautiful birds here in the southwest corner of the state.

Rare Bird Alert

The Chase

As Fall migration continues on with some outstanding birds reported all over the State of Ohio, as usual us birders in the Southwest corner have to rely on traveling to scope out the better birds. We have a high concentration of birders in the Tri-state area, who know how to use social media with great efficiency. If something unusual is sighted, it’s out on the World Wide Web pretty quickly. So it came as a surprise when I read that a Red-necked Phalarope has been seen on Mirror Lake in Eden Park since Wednesday. WEDNESDAY!

Here’s a photo of Mirror Lake with the Spring House Gazebo. The 186 acre tact of land was purchased from Nicolas Longworth in 1869, which he used as a vineyard. Underneath Mirror Lake is a reservoir, and the top is a concrete lined shallow pond. During the winter when it freezes over people will use it for ice skating. Paved sidewalks all over the park make especially popular with dog walkers and joggers. Which explains why the Phalarope was so approachable.

A park employee noticed the bird a day or so ago from comments made by joggers who observed it during their daily run. So the park employee called a prominent birder in the city. And with that call the whole chain reaction help boost this bird to being our own celebrity.

A pretty small wader at only 7.8″, the Red-necked Phalarope breeds throughout all of the far northern reaches of North America. From Alaska towards Hudson Bay and points Eastward. And on a very rare occasion they will show up in our neck of the woods, as the below photo will attest to.

IMG_1665On August 8th, of 2012 I drove to Lost Bridge to digiscope this Red-necked Phalarope. A life bird for me at the time, this heavily cropped photo is enough to provide a positive ID, and that’s about it.

So yesterday morning while reading Cincinnati Birders facebook page, the sighting reported by birding friend Kathi Hutton that the bird was still there at 0730 was all I needed to get that “twitch” going. So last minutes changes in my plans for the day gave me several hours to drive to the city and find the bird.

Which really wasn’t too difficult considering the crowd of birders and photographers it drew. And considering how approachable the bird was, very photogenic.

IMG_1221I left a little bit of the concrete retaining wall for Mirror Lake in the photo to show how close we were able to get to the bird.

IMG_1279The reason it was so close to the wall. It was feeding as this photo shows.



IMG_1252For me, this was the money photo. I only wish there was a little more sunshine.

One of the concerns of the group of birders present was the condition of the bird. The bird was able to fly as I was able to witness. However later in the day the thread of Facebook was a birder noticed one of it’s legs was dangling behind as it flew. Now my hope is that it will recuperate while here, then fly away for the Winter.

Snowy Owls

If you haven’t heard by now we are be invaded from the North Country. No Canada hasn’t declared was on the United States, however a huge influx of Snowy Owls are definitely making their presence known. Even our very own Ohio Listserv is a buzz with countless sightings from the shores of Lake Erie (where 8 were observed in one day) to all the way down in my neck of the woods.

I could go on and on about these marvelous birds, but what I think I’ll do is add a hyperlink to this post which will take you to a recent article from eBird concerning the Snowies. So remember if you see one, keep your distance and don’t forget to post your sighting.

“eBird article click here”