Morning at Shawnee Lookout

If only I could be awoken by the song of the Wood Thrush, then I think life itself would almost be perfect.

It’s song is soft, melodic, a woodland flute.

The Wood Thrush marks the beginning and the end of each day as it’s song never wavers.

With the return each spring these beautiful birds returns my soul and slows my pace as I wander in the forest.

With some birds, we work to remember their particular song…

but the Wood Thrush is forever in me.

Notes From The Field

Back in the summer of 1998, the city of Loveland Ohio cut the ribbon on a new 21 acre nature preserve bordering O’Bannon Creek, a tributary for the Little Miami River. And for the last 19 years this little gem right in the heart of Historic Loveland has almost become a forgotten spot for the birding community. I’m one of the guilty considering how I close I do live, with this being just my 3rd, or 4th time I’ve birded this nice patch of woodlands. So with an evening free with some unusally warm weather I ventured forth for a spot of birding.

For being such a small wooded lot, when you’re by yourself it instantly becomes larger than the 21 acres. I really didn’t know what to expect, but neither was I surprised by the birds I discovered. However when you go birding in the evening birds on a whole sytart to quiet down a little. Northern Cardinals, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouses, American Robins were the most vocal. Even when I sit on my own front porch in the evening these birds are the most vocal.

This is a well maintained nature preserve through volunteer efforts by both the Boy Scouts and local groups. the trails are well marked and mulched with signage throughout the preserve telling you  where your located. A wooden bird blind with feeders is always nice to checkout even if the feeders were empty tonight.

A Cooper’s Hawk flies just ahead and above me, and lands quietly in a nearby tree. I pause to watch to see if a ambush is coming. The hawk seems content just to wait, but I wasn’t and moved on.

An Eastern Towhee catches my eye in the thick undergrowth. I “pished”  a few times to see if it would pop out for a photo.     Silly human.

As I walked the trail that parallels O’Bannon Creek I finally hear a Wood Warbler. An ascending trill with a hiccup at the end. Now I don’t know about you but when early spring arrives this is the time to dust off my warbler songs and reacquaint myself with these beautiful birds, especially before I head off for Magee Marsh in May. More and more species are arriving all the time and birding by ear for these warblers is key for proper identification when their foraging out of sight.

I stopped and waited for it to sing again. Northern Parula. I felt so stupid.

 

First of the Season

If you’ve been around birding or birders for any length of time. you may have noticed this abbreviation, FOS, or First Of the Season. Normally seen during Spring migration as birds either pass through an area or stay to nest, yesterday I had several FOS as Jon and myself set out into the field.

As much as I tried to get any photo of birds yesterday, it turned out to be pretty futile. They were either too far away, unseen, or moving too much to get any picture. So a quick run down of my FOS from areas in and around the Tri-State including Shawnee Lookout Park, Lost Bridge, and Kilby Road Park.

  • Warbling Vireo
  • Semi-palmated Plover
  • Palm Warbler
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Northern Parula
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • House Wren

Notes From The Field

It was a beautiful Sunday. Much like Spring’s in the past it started out on the cool side, and as the sun rose even higher into the sky, so did the temps. The Ohio Valley is really beginning to shed its’ Winter bareness with more flowers blooming every week. My own yard work is starting to ramp up as bushes need to be pruned back and dead branches picked up in the yard before I mow. Plus the vegetable garden needs to be tilled and prepped before any seed hits the soil. As busy as folks get this time of year, there’s always time to get in a little birding before the yard work consumes the rest of the daylight.

One of my favorite parks to go birding is Magrish Preserve. This small preserve borders the Little Miami River just upstream from the confluence with the Ohio River, and can really be a good migrant trap. With all the recent rain we’ve had the Little Miami River has left its banks and a good portion of the park in under water. So I’m on high ground doing some casual birding as I stroll around the area trying to keep my feet dry.

Surprisingly it’s pretty quiet. I approach a group of 3 or 4 Cedar trees and I start to notice a group of 6 Golden-crowned Kinglets feeding on the berries. I become entranced with the Kinglets and spent a good portion of my time just watching these hyperactive little birds.

Now this next picture isn’t of a Golden-crowned Kinglet, however while I was at California Woods after leaving Magrish Preserve, the annual Eastern Pheobe pair were putting on quite a show. This may be be my best photo this year so far.

Notes From The Field

It was a cool, overcast morning as I set out this Sunday morning for a little birding. I had my sights set for Gilmore Ponds which would get me home around lunch time after circumnavigating the park. A nice walk-able park with plenty of water and open grassy areas.

Gilmore Ponds butts up against the old Miami-Erie Canal, so it’s low lying nature makes for loads of standing water after a rainy day. Through some terrible decision making by Butler County politicians with little or no conservation mind-set, the park is suffering. It usually boils down to the need of the county and money, and in this situation it’s the parks that suffer. A few years back this park was closed to the public and individuals would sneak on (myself included) for some birding. But’s it’s open now through the passage of recent tax levies, and for the most part everyone is happy.

This is great Eastern Bluebird habitat and I noticed a family busy feeding and setting up house at the various Bluebird houses scattered around the park.

This is also a great park if only for it’s Great Blue Heron rookery. Every year it varies in sizes and the total amount of nests. Usually after violent storms we’ll loss some nests, which is normal, however this year we seem to have plenty.

Gilmore Ponds is also one of my go-to places for Rusty Blackbirds. A few years back Jon and myself were witness to hundreds of Rusty Blackbirds and they foraged along the edges of a flooded wood lot. Now to sort through all the Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Starlings can be daunting, I finally came upon about a dozen feeding along the edge of one of the larger ponds. Getting near for a photo proved difficult, but I was able to squeeze off this terrible photograph.

With those yellow eyes it really looks like an angry bird, but  I just love these birds.

On my way back towards the parking lot I came upon a very small pond. No more than 12 feet across this pond must be spring feed because even during dry spells it always has water. As I got closer I noticed flitting about a Eastern Phoebe feeding, my first for the year.

A much better effort.

All told a pretty good effort of only half a day. I recorded 40 plus birds with nothing too surprising. A nice leisurely walk in a park. Just what the doctor ordered for the start of my vacation.

Notes From The Field

The first day of Day Light Savings Time and it’s time for a little birding despite the cold weather. Even though I took my camera with me I wasn’t in a very photographic mood. I just wanted to wander around at Armleder Park for a couple of hours and do nothing more than some casual birding. No hurrying from one place to another. No ticking off as many birds as you can in a single day. Spotting a common bird can be just as exciting as seeing a rarity. Spring is almost here and there will be exciting times ahead when it comes to birds.

All the normal birds were seen except for my first of the year Greater Yellowleg. For a cold March morning this is a pretty good bird.

The size and the up turned bill is a dead give away. Quality is poor, however considering the distance I took this shot, it’s not too terrible.

Cooper’s Hawk