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“On The Road” with a added Surprise

So far my trip to the shores of Lake Erie has been a huge success with loads of birds, which include everyone’s favorite Wood Warblers. Now I haven’t added up my totals for the whole trip, considering that my trip is still going on and there are still birds to see. But this little side story started back on Thursday evening when Kathy and I were enjoying a adult beverage at a local brewery. It was 5 pm as I connected to their wifi to check my email.  I’m normally don’t feel the need to check my email, or other social media sites constantly while I’m out birding. My focus is on the birds, not my smart phone, which almost cost me a new life bird.
So it while I was sipping my first tasty brew I read the rare bird of alert of a Curlew Sandpipier just to the west of Toledo. The first posting time was 12:30. Almost 5 hours have gone by from the initial sighting with countless more eBird reports jamming up their servers. As exciting as this sighting is I had to hold back my anxiety to sprint off since we had made plans for the evening which was keeping me busy. My only hope was the bird sticking it out through the night. As the evening wore on the last report was a 7 pm sighting, which gave me hope. I immediately texted Jon to fill him in on the situation,  since he was driving up right after work.
After Jon arrived at his cabin I gave him a call to finalize the details for Friday morning. He was picking me up at 6:15 and with the 45 minute drive we were hoping for enough sun to spot the bird.
The drive wasn’t too terribly bad, we only got turned around once. But we got ourselves un-lost and pulled up on this wonderfully flooded field lined with a couple dozed birders scanning the field. Jon pulled up and we grabbed our scopes as a young women motioned to us to hurry up. We found the bird.
The sun was right in our faces so all the images I shot were horribly back-lit. This bird is in full breeding plumage and is quite a sight to see, however the pictures I took you can’t see hardly any of the coloration or details. Nor was I waiting around for hours till the sun moved to behond us. I may go back zfter we leave tomorrow to try again, but in the mean time here’s the bird.

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Notes From The Field

It was a chilly morning for the first day of Spring as Kathy and I climbed into the bird-mobile for a day of birding for me, and a day of hiking for Kathy with her hiking group. Today destination was Shawnee Lookout Forest, which Kathy hasn’t been to before and I haven’t been since last year. The sky was blue with very little cloud cover, so the hopes were for a quick warm up with decent trails.

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I dropped Kathy off at the Miami Fort Trail where her hiking group was meeting, an I back tracked to another trail so there would be less of a crowd. Little Turtle Trail was my choice.

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It’s really too early for any Spring migrants to be showing up, so for most of the hike I observed birds when they showed themselves, but for the most part I immersed myself in the beauty of the first day of spring.

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Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinals, Eastern Towhees, and American Robins, with a hand full of Carolina Chickadees were the dominate species I watch as I made my way along.

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This section of the trail runs parallel to the Ohio River way below my feet. I just love the greenish tint everything is getting while the trees are leafless.

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Wildflowers were just barely showing themselves in small patches adjacent to the trail.

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A Turkey Vulture drying it’s wings in the morning sun. I stumbles upon a small group of 7 or 8 roosting almost at eye level while on the section of trail above the Ohio River.

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Eventually my wife’s hiking group caught up to me. It seems after they finished their first trail they were in the need for more hiking, so they selected the trail I was on. It was about this time I was bringing my cameras up to my eye to snap off a photo of Fox Sparrow when the group showed up. And the bird spooked away.

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I did find the Red Bud just about ready to bloom. One more week of good weather should do it.

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Eastern Towhee

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Northern Cardinal

For the most part it was a wonderful day just to be outside. The air was sunny and cool and the birds were very vocal. And just getting my bins back from Vortex where the rubber eye cup needed to be re-glued, I was anxious to try them out.

So as the weather warms even more, my hopes to get out more and do more birding will increase. And as a added bonus, next month kathy and i are visiting our oldest son in North Carolina for a long weekend. And he has the location of a nesting pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches. Oh-boy, I can’t wait to bring you that story.

Notable birds for the day include.

  1. Red-shouldered Hawk
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. White-throated Sparrow
  5. Fox Sparrow
  6. Field Sparrow
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Carolina Chickadee
  9. Tufted Titmouse
  10. Carolina Wren
  11. Northern Cardinal
  12. Blue Jay
  13. Brown-headed Cowbird
  14. White-breasted Nuthatch
  15. American Crow
  16. Pileated Woodpecker
  17. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  18. Hairy Woodpecker
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. American Robin
  21. American Crow

Feeder Watching

On this Valentine’s Day while my wife is out relieving the everyday stresses of work with a massage, I’m having a wonderful time doing some feeder watching this weekend. As much as I love to get out into the field and do some serious birding, sometimes it can be athrill when you just sit there after filling all your feeders and seeing what appeaars in your yard.
February can be a pretty lean month as food supplies dwindle and birds become bolder around feeders. House Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows fight over seed scattered on the ground, while Starlings hang out under the suet feeder waiting for scraps that are dropped.
Surprises like a Red-winged Blackbird ( where were you in January) Common Grackle, and a American Crow are always a welcome sight. Woodpeckers are always fun as they try to muscle their way to the suet.
With feeding in both my front and back yard there is always some action close by. Keeping the feeders filled is always a challenge when you work. If you forget just one day the feeders could be emptied and no birds around to watch. Granted I’m never thrilled with the Starlings taking over the feeders, but there is usually enough for all the others.
As Spring slowly approaches the feeders will be removed as the birds start to find food on their own, but as long as the bitter cold sticks around I’ll be out every couple of days filling them up.
Notable birds
American Crow
Common Grackle
Eastern Towhee
European Starling
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
House Finch
American Gold Finch
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated SpRrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Mourning Dove

January 100 Species Challenge

Well January is finally, and mercifully over for this valiant birder. For my last day in January I wanted to try Cowen Lake State Park and see if any new ducks were there. Well the lake is still frozen over and except for a patch of some Canadian Geese and a couple lone Bald eagles sitting on the ice, the park was a big bust when it came to new birds.

It was while I was about to change location when Jon called me and said he was on his way to Caesar Creek and wanted to know if I’d meet him. “Sure, why not”.

We met up and after several hours of driving around I was able to tick off 2 more birds for my January list, which now gives me a grand total of 70 birds. Not very good considering the birds I missed, which I shouldn’t have.

Well there’s always next year, just like the Red’s.

  1. Purple Finch
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull

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January 100 Species Challenge

Despite the fact that this blog post may be a few days late, I’m just glad I remembered before I went out of town to Michigan this weekend to visit my daughter and son-in-law.

Last weekend had me traveling to both Fernald Preserve and Gilmore Ponds. And since I have some serious holes in my January list I had to make the most of this long weekend.

Unfortunately I was only able to tick off 6 new species, which now brings my total for the month to a paltry 68.

  1. Brown-headed Cowbird
  2. Bald Eagle
  3. Herring Gull
  4. Pine Siskin
  5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  6. American Pipit

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Big Year Blogs

At the beginning of every new year I search for new blogs that follow the exploits of the big year birder. Last year it was Noah Stryker and his record setting world big year, and this year I’ve found 3 blogs which I’ll follow. In the past the most big year blogs I’ll follow at one time is two, however the format that each big year birder is using this time is a little different.

The first “Big Year Blog” I’m following is “Olaf’s Bad Weather Big Year” This is your traditional big year. One man against the elements, time, flight delays, bad luck, good luck, bad hotels, and equally bad hotels, chasing after the record total of ABA birds in North America.

With impressive numbers so far, and loads of pictures, it can be a struggle reading this blog. I don’t consider myself the best of writers by any stretch of the imagination, however I do re-read each blog post and try to correct any spelling or grammar error. It would do Olaf well to click on the “spelling and grammar check” button prior to publishing.

Despite that, it’s a great little blog and well worth following, just for the sake of seeing how close he gets to Neil Hayward, and Sandy Komito.

The next big year blog I’m following is “Lynn Barber’s Alaska Big Year“. This is the one I’m most interested in. If you’re not familiar with Lynn Barber, she’s one outstanding birder. Besides being a  regular contributor to the “ABA Blog“, she did a Texas Big Year in 2003, and 2005, where her record of 522 species still stands. Her ABA Big Year in 2008 produced 723 species. Her book “Extreme Birder: One Women’s Big Year” takes the reader on her ABA Big Year as she recounts that incredible year. And in 2011, while a resident of South Dakota, she posted 350 species for her SD Big Year.

Now she’s living in Alaska and doing her Alaska Big year, while I eagerly await for each and every posting. I would highly recommend this blog to follow, especially if you only have time to follow one blog, this would be the one.

The 3rd and final blog is really different than any big years I’ve heard of, and it’s being brought to you by none other than Greg Miller. Yes, the same Greg Miller who  who was one of the three main characters in the book and movie titled “The Big Year”.  But this time Greg is doing his big year a little differently. Instead of traveling all over North America willy-nilly searching frantically for every bird, including rarities, he’s doing his big year as a series of 11 tours. Titled “Greg Miller: 2016 Big Year Tours“, Greg has set up these tours so others can join him for a week of all out birding fun. Each tour destination has already been determined, with a set price $1,750.00 per tour. You do save a few bucks if you book multiple tours. And with the first tour finished, their Southern California leg netted them 208 species. Quite a respectable number.

So this is what I’m reading this year, how about you?