Tag Archives: Armleder Park

Notes From The Field

It’s the beginning of April in the Ohio Valley. The outside temperatures are warming, and some of our early migrating birds are starting to show up like Pine Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, Eastern Phoebes, and the increase of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Early April is also the time us birders in southern Ohio start looking for Vesper Sparrows as the pass through to breed further north. Unfortunately for us our window of opportunity is narrow as the proceed further north in the breed.

Found in open country feeding mostly along the roadsides and open areas within grasslands, they associate alongside Brewer’s, Savannah, and Lark Sparrow’s. Blending in with their surroundings, they can be tricky to spot, but if you happen to spook one, you’ll notice their familiar white edges on the tail. The classic field mark for this bird.

So one of the best places in town to find them is Armleder Park. Located along the Little Miami River, this 305 acre park is a flat, and prone to flooding with great habitat for grassland birds, especially Sparrows. This is the same park that years earlier I was part of a field trip that spooked up a Yellow Rail. Unbelievable!

But yesterday it was about Vesper Sparrows, and luck was on my side.

Armleder Park this time of year is home to soccer fields galore. I arrived early enough to walk the fields and find the birds as the feed in the dried patches of grass or along the edge of the sidewalks.

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

Armleder Park

I love sparrows. However there was a time when it was more of a love/hate relationship. As with all beginning birders we tend to look at sparrows and shrug our shoulders with uncertainty as to which species it is we’re looking at. And this type of behavior is perfectly normal when you’re looking at these little brown birds. They all look alike. And it wasn’t until I started birding with Jon on a regular basis that it all changed to a love affair with these little brown birds.

Last time I counted there’s about 36 species of birds with the word “sparrow” in its’ name listed for North America. And for the most part they all have that overall brown appearance, with the exception of the Olive Sparrow. Sizes do vary somewhat, from the tiny 5″ Nelson’s Sparrow, to the beefy 7.5″ monster Harris’s Sparrow. Habitats  where you find sparrows differ as much as the species itself. From ocean shore, the great plains, and the desert southwest, sparrows can be found all over North America.

Jon turned me onto this book several years ago, and after I bought it, it’s become a valuable resource whenever I need to brush up on sparrows.

Now the ones I enjoy chasing down the most are our seasonal or migratory sparrows. In the fall I love to chase Nelson’s and LeConte’s Sparrows in the grassland parks of central Ohio. In the spring and summer Henslow’s Sparrows can be found even my neck of Ohio. And in the winter my thoughts always turn to Fox Sparrows. In the eastern half of North America these beautifully marked sparrows can be a challenge since this part of Ohio is at the birds northern most range in the winter. I feel they’re an uncommon bird for the winter, whereas the American Tree Sparrow is everywhere during our colder months. But they can be found, and one Fox Sparrow in particular has been giving good views at Armleder Park.

So while my wife was off hiking with her hiking club at California Woods ( my go-to spot for Northern Waterthrush ) I made my way over to a quiet corner of Armleder park in search of a Fox Sparrow. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a decent view of this species, let alone get a photograph. Heavy rains the night before kept the birds quiet for the first 30 minutes I was there. Then they all started to wake up.

First the Eastern Towhees started to call.



White-crowned Sparrows were busy feeding in the underbrush, until I “pished” them out.


Then a White-throated Sparrow joined in.


But no Fox Sparrow. I grew weary and wandered off to try another location.

IMG_4219Belted Kingfisher

Then I noticed this other birder looking hard at something, but what? I followed his stare and saw some birds in this small tree. One thing I’ve learned from years of birding is to always find out out what others are looking at. Most of the time it could very well be a common bird, but there is is always that one time where it might be something good. My intuition paid off and I was able to get onto this beautiful Fox Sparrow.


I took loads of pictures, but this one I feel is the best. When I said beautifully marked, I wasn’t kidding. This is a stunning bird.

Notes From The Field

I’ve neglected my blog lately…and I’m blaming work. Have you ever had one of those weeks where you come home after a super busy day at work and feel like just vegging out for the evening and go to bed early. That was me this week. And despite having a wonderful day birding with Jon last Saturday, I just couldn’t find the energy to sit down and write a blog post. Sorry everyone.

Like I said last Saturday Jon and myself hit the woods hard looking for migrants at some of our local hot spots. Shawnee Lookout Park, Lost Bridge, The Oxbow, Smith Tract, and Armleder Park.  It was a beautiful day and the birds on a whole were plentiful in some areas, however in others it wasn’t. Trying to find where the wading birds are can be a challenge, and last Saturday was no different as we tried several spots where we’ve seen them before, only to strike out every time.

Warblers were plentiful and as always another challenge for myself trying to get any kind of serviceable photograph. Our day list was pretty good, so instead of boring you with week old birding news I’ll just skip to the list of birds intermixed with some photos. You see I need to keep this blog post short because I still have to get ready for when I go to my favorite birding hotspot tomorrow, Boone County Cliffs.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Ring-billed Gull
  3. Double-creasted Cormorant
  4. Bonaparte’s Gull
  5. Cooper’s Hawk
  6. Red-shouldered Hawk
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. American Kestrel
  9. Killdeer
  10. Blue-winged Teal
  11. Mallard
  12. Northern Mockingbird
  13. American Robin
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Canada Geese
  17. Tree Swallow
  18. Chimney Swift
  19. Barn Swallow
  20. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  21. Northern Cardinal
  22. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  23. Tufted Titmouose
  24. Carolina Chickadee
  25. Carolina Wren
  26. House Wren
  27. IMG_2402Wild Turkey
  28. Wood Thrush
  29. Northern Parula
  30. Eastern Towhee
  31. Eastern Goldfinch
  32. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  33. Pileated Woodpecker
  34. Hairy Woodpecker
  35. Northern Flicker
  36. Prothonotary Warbler
  37. Green Heron
  38. Great Blue Heron
  39. Song Sparrow
  40. White-throated Sparrow
  41. Wood Duck
  42. Yellow-throated Warbler
  43. Chipping Sparrow
  44. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  45. Eastern Phoebe
  46. IMG_2405Blue-winged Warbler
  47. White-eyed Vireo
  48. Warbling Vireo
  49. Red-eyed Vireo
  50. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  51. Brown-headed Cowbird
  52. European Starling
  53. Red-winged Blackbird
  54. American Crow
  55. Yellow-throated Vireo
  56. IMG_2422Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  57. White-breasted Nuthatch
  58. Black-throated Green Warbler
  59. Field Sparrow
  60. Orchard Oriole
  61. Baltimore Oriole
  62. Common Yellowthroat
  63. Indigo Bunting
  64. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  65. Turkey Vulture
  66. Black Vulture
  67. Common Grackle
  68. IMG_2433Cerulean Warbler
  69. Blue Jay
  70. Louisiana Waterthrush
  71. Prairie Warbler
  72. American Redstart
  73. Osprey
  74. Hermit Thrush
  75. Northern Shoveler
  76. American Coot
  77. Eastern Meadowlark
  78. Wilson’s Snipe
  79. Yellow Warbler
  80. IMG_2442Eastern Kingbird

Notes From The Field

“In Search of Red-necked Grebes”

This years great Red-necked Grebe invasion has taken the state by storm, and now it’s Jon’s and my chance to track down these visitors from the north. As you can see by the range map below that I downloaded from the web site, “All About Birds”, we may get one a year during the winter. Last winter we had one that stayed at Hidden Valley Lake for a long time and was included in my January 100 Species Challenge


They do winter over down into the United States, but it’s normally along both coasts. So what are they doing down here and in such great numbers? Well I’m sure thee is a logical ornithological reason for such an influx, but I’m pretty confident that this exceptionally cold winter has something to do with it. So whatever the reason we were out in the field and meeting up Grand Valley as our first stop.

With his Grandmothers birthday celebration in the early afternoon, our time was limited as we drove through the gate into Grand Valley. Still partially frozen over with only small pockets of open water, we quickly scanned the lake only to find 10 Common Mergansers that quickly took off and some Canadian Geese.

On to the back lake which held a bounty of some good waterfowl, including 3 Red-necked Grebes.

IMG_3699Difficult to see at first but there are loads of tiny black dots on the lake mostly on the other side of the small island.

IMG_3700After watching them fish for a while these 2 decided to take a nap while the thrid continued to feed.

IMG_3701I had to shoot this one quick because the Grebe had it eaten really quick.


The difficulty with digiscoping is trying to focus on a moving bird and coming away with a clear picture. And if the sun is behind you then the view through the camera monitor glares back at you. So most of the pictures are out of focus.

So here we are at our first stop and we have 3 RNGR already. Is this what we are to expect today? So our next stop where one was reported was Armleder Park, which is just upstream from the Ohio River with the Little Miami River running along it’s eastern border. And bordering along it’s southern edge is Duck Creek. It’s here where Duck Creek runs into the Little Miami is where we need to set up. After twice falling on the slippery slopes we made it to our destination. Footing was difficult with all the mud, however when we looked downstream we found 3 more RNGR. This is getting crazy. Like I told Jon, “you can’t swing a cat without hitting one”.

Totally satisfied with now sighting 6 individuals we trudged through the mud back to our respective cars. So where to next? Well being close to the Ohio River this area is known for all it’s marinas  which are tucked back off the Ohio River through man-made channels. And one of the largest, 4 Seasons Marina, has this driving range next to it. But it’s not your conventional kind of driving range. This one has a lake that you hit the ball into, and they have these floating markers that show the distance. Well it’s on this driving range lake where we found yet another RNGR. This time a male showing it’s breeding plumage.


IMG_3719On these last 2 photos you can really tell how they got their name.

So after we left this marina we went just 2 marina down from us called Harbor Town Marina. We walked down to the channel and found another RNGR. This one another solo bird and it was actively feeding. Do to the distance and the position of the sun I took no photo.

So after finding 8 different birds we made our way to California Golf Course. Located on the golf course is a very large reservoir that is used by the Cincinnati Water Works. And it’s here that we find the last RNGR for the day. Another lone male bird amongst all the other water fowl that speckled the lake.

Having thought we might have missed out on this last invasion of this magnificent bird, we came away with 9 different individuals. Now this may sound like a lot, but remember they’re all over the place down here, either on our large lakes of rivers. How long will this go on? No ones guess. Just like the Snowy Owls, here one day, then gone the next.

So what’s in store for us in the Ohio valley. Well with spring knocking on the door, hopefully warblers. And you know how much we love warblers here at A Birders Notebook.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Red-winged Black Birds
  2. American Crow
  3. American Robin
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Pileated Woodpecker
  7. Downy Woodpecker
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. White-throated Sparrow
  11. White-crowned Sparrow
  12. Field Sparrow
  13. Red-shouldered Hawk
  14. Red-tailed Hawk
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Tree Swallow
  18. Canada Goose
  19. Northern Shoveler
  20. Common Merganser
  21. Red-breasted Merganser
  22. Hooded Merganser
  23. Mallard
  24. Wood Duck
  25. Common Goldeneye
  26. Pied-billed Grebe
  27. Red-necked Grebe
  28. Turkey Vulture
  29. Black Vulture
  30. Eastern Bluebird
  31. Killdeer
  32. Bufflehead
  33. Gadwall
  34. American Wigeon
  35. Ring-neck Duck
  36. American Coot
  37. Redhead
  38. Northern Mockingbird
  39. Lesser Scaup
  40. Greater Scaup
  41. Blue Jay
  42. Ring-billed Gull
  43. Herring Gull
  44. Belted Kingfisher

Notes From The Field

Armleder Park, Lost Bridge, Shawnee Lookout Park, & The Obow

Where has the last 4 days gone? I had nothing but the best intentions to get a blog post out to all my readers, however during migration and with other responsibilities at home I’ve been rather delinquent with some of my blog posts. So first an apology in hopes that this won’t become habit, but with migration in full bloom this promise might soon be broken as well. So bear with me during this Spring.

So this posting will combine 2 field trips that Jon and myself took these past few days. Our first trip was to Armleder Park this last Thursday. Joining Jon and myself was Jason who works with Jon and is starting to accompany us every now and then. This was to be an evening trip where we just wandered around the park doing some casual birding trying our best trying to pick up any migrant.

It was a beautiful evening with a stiff breeze and plenty of people in the park either watching their kids practicing lacrosse and soccer, or just walking, running, and skating around on the paved paths. The wind seemed to keep the birds a little less active and even with the diminishing light we were able to total 31 birds for the evening. I was able to add a few new ones for the year including Baltimore Oriole, Prothonotory Warbler, House Wren, and Yellow-throated Warbler. And the Vesper Sparrow eluded me again.

So after a field trip I would post this trip on my blog, however Friday was kind of busy after I got home from work. Kathy and myself went out to do a little shopping and for a bite to eat. So after I got home it was getting a little too late to post anything considering I was going out the next morning with Jon to Shawnee Lookout.

Saturday morning shone bright and cold as I made my way towards Shawnee Lookout. Anticipations were high, and with a early jump on the morning I was hoping for some great birding. Jon was going to join me a little later due to a previous appointment, so I arrived at Lost bridge bright and early. With some of the recent rain we’ve had the river was running high so none of the usual mud flats were visible, so my stay was short.

Knowing how high the water level was it came as no surprise to see the parking lot for the boat access at Shawnee Lookout flooded.

IMG_3734Where you see water in this picture, is usually a parking lot.

IMG_2473_1You will always find a Belted Kingfisher near the boat ramp area at Shawnee Lookout Park.

The ramp down to the parking lot was abundant with birds. House Wrens once again made their voices known above all others. A lone Yellow-throated Vireo came through as I searched in vain for this small elusive bird that sang so beautifully. But with every Spring there is one bird I look forward to the most. Standing in the parking lot below the park headquarters a Wood Thrush started to sing. I don’t need to see a Wood Thrush to know what I’m hearing. My all time favorite bird song. I recall a time when I was camping with the Boy Scout troop I was a leader with. As usual I was up very early getting in some birding. The forest was still and quiet except for the call of the Wood Thrush. Above all else it’s voice was heard.

I made my way into the park after buying my yearly pass. Up the hill through the trees to the crest of the hill and the golf course parking lot. I had to stop because a warbler was calling.

IMG_3740First of the season Yellow Warbler

IMG_2478_1Through a tangle comes the song of the Brown Thrasher.

Chipping Sparrows are back in force, and Shawnee Lookout is no exception. Small in size, their voice is anything but. I was following this particular bird as it flew to the top of a branch and started to belt out it’s song.


Jon finally joined me and brought along his super-cool dog Edgar. Edgar is this enormous Black Lab that has such a great disposition and was so well behaved all during the day. You barely knew he was there as we walked the fields and trails that criss-crossed Shawnee Lookout. We meet up with a good birding friend Gary Stegner who was out birding by himself, so we joined up together to what turned out to be a glorious day of birding and conversation.

Wood Warblers and Vireos were the prime birds for the day as first-of-the-season birds include White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Warbling Viroes. Wood warblers included Prairie, Cerulean, Red Start, Yellow, and Blue-winged.

One of my favorite trails at the part is called the Fort trail due to the fact that early Native Americans had villages at the top. Signs are posted throughout and along the trail telling about early Native American life here. Early blooming flowers were beginning to bloom,

IMG_3751As well a butterflies being seen flying low over the ground, landing and feeding on the clover that was in bloom.

IMG_3749Black Swallowtail

As the morning wore into the afternoon Gary parted ways after almost 3 hours of birding. And for Jon and myself it was time to make our way to the Oxbow to see if it was passable for car traffic. Much to our surprise the water levels were lower than anticipated, so we made our way into the park. We watched as 2 Bald Eagles played and Blue-winged Teal feed along sky pools. A few wading birds were seen but nothing that made our hearts jump. It’s been rather a disappointing year for wading birds.

IMG_3755This Eastern Kingbird was so cooperative as I drove ever so close so as to get parallel to it and get it’s picture.

IMG_3756Blocking my way was this Turkey Vulture that was feasting on this dead fish in the middle of the road. As I crept closer in my car trying to get a better angle to get this picture, it dropped the fish and flew off, only to return later after it circled in the air.

At the overlook for Oxbow Lake we scanned through the trees to try and locate this group of white dots on the other side of the trees in this flooded field. Sitting on the long stretch of grass were these 2 Caspian Terns. First of the year birds.

IMG_2484The ones on the far left and right are the birds in question. I only wish they were a little closer, but they are Caspian Terns.

Both days we had some very good birds, and since I’m including both days into one blog post, it only seems logical that I include both list of birds into one. So without further ado:

Notable birds for both days include:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Pied-billed Grebe
  3. Blue-winged Teal
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Mallard
  6. Wood Duck
  7. Double-creasted Cormorant
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. Turkey Vulture
  10. Black Vulture
  11. Wild Turkey
  12. Bald Eagle
  13. Red-tailed Hawk
  14. Cooper’s Hawk
  15. Broad-winged Hawk
  16. Pigeon
  17. Mourning Dove
  18. Killdeer
  19. Spotted Sandpiper
  20. Lesser Yellowleg
  21. Pileated Woodpecker
  22. Downy Woodpecker
  23. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  24. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  25. Northern Flicker
  26. Belted Kingfisher
  27. Tree Swallow
  28. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  29. Cliff Swallow
  30. Bank Swallow
  31. Barn Swallow
  32. Chimney Swift
  33. House Wren
  34. Carolina Wren
  35. Baltimore Oriole
  36. Orchard Oriole
  37. Blue Jay
  38. Carolina Chickadee
  39. Tufted Titmouse
  40. Northern Cardinal
  41. American Robin
  42. Eastern Towhee
  43. American Crow
  44. Common Grackle
  45. Brown-headed Cowbird
  46. Red-winged Black Bird
  47. Brown Thrasher
  48. Wood Thrush
  49. House Sparrow
  50. Swamp Sparrow
  51. Song Sparrow
  52. White-crowned Sparrow
  53. White-throated Sparrow
  54. Field Sparrow
  55. Chipping Sparrow
  56. Indigo Bunting
  57. Eastern Meadowlark
  58. Horned Lark
  59. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  60. Eastern Phoebe
  61. American Goldfinch
  62. Ring-billed Gull
  63. Caspian Tern
  64. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  65. Common Yellowthroat
  66. Yellow-throated Warbler
  67. Blue-winged Warbler
  68. Protonotary Warbler
  69. Prairie Warbler
  70. Pine Warbler
  71. Northern Parula
  72. Palm Warbler
  73. Warbling Vireo
  74. Yellow-throated Vireo
  75. White-eyed Vireo
  76. Cerulean Warbler
  77. American Redstart
  78. Yellow Warbler
  79. Eastern Bluebird
  80. White-breasted Nuthatch
  81. European Starling