The First time I visited Highland County to search for the Henslow’s Sparrows a week or so ago I couldn’t have been more pleased with the number and ease which the sparrows could be observed. Walking along this one lane country road with Henslow’s singing from both sides of you was an experience I’ve not felt since they breed at Voice of America Park a long time ago. Once you tune your hearing for their small “hic-cup” song the easier it is to locate them. And wanting to experience that again, this last Wednesday I made my way back to Highland County, and this time i was going later in the day so the sun would be more to my advantage as I intended to shoot more pictures.
If you compare the photos from my last blog entry, and these new photos you’ll notice the difference as the sun was higher in the sky then in my face. Needless to say I had a ball wandering the edge of these fields creeping up on these amazing birds.
Ohio State University has a airport northwest of downtown Columbus close to the city of Dublin. Adjacent to the airport, and owned by the university, sits the Ohio State Equine Center. For the past several years Upland Sandpipers have called this home and raised their chicks in the grassy pastures. For myself this isn’t a life bird to add to my list. That moment came years ago during the spring migration close to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. It was a distant view even through my spotting scope as it foraged in a unplowed field. I did take a very poor quality photo, but the heat shimmer really distorted the final outcome.
So this last Monday Off I drove for the 90 minute drive to see if I could maybe get a better view and hopefully a decent photograph.
After arriving it took me about 20 to 30 minutes to locate not just one, but both Upland Sandpipers perched on top of the wooden fence posts. By this time the sun was full in the sky and the heat shimmer started. I moved around several times trying to get in a good location for any kind of photograph. However the birds really kept their distance, and after getting home and going over what pictures I had of them, this was probably the best one.
I’ve spent the last day and a half birding up along Lake Erie for the first time in 2 years. If you remember last year I camped in Daniel Boone national Forest at Red River Gorge checking out some of the breeding warblers in the area. Well this year I returned to Lake Erie, but for only a very short time. All told I probably spent a total of 14 hours birding. But in those 14 hours I either heard or saw a total of 85 birds with 24 of those being warblers, which I think is pretty respectable for the time allotted.
- Wilson’s warbler
- Yellow warbler
- Yellow-rumped warbler
- Blue-winged Warbler
- Common Yellowthroat
- Black-throated Green Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler
- Blackburnian Warbler
- Bay-breasted Warbler
- Canada Warbler
- American Redstart
- Mourning Warbler
- Cape May Warbler
- Nashville Warbler
- Tennessee Warbler
- Northern Parula
- Louisiana Waterthrush
- Prothonotary Warbler
- Magnolia Warbler
- Chestnut-sided Warbler
- Palm Warbler
- Black & White warbler
- Blackpoll Warbler
This trip I did come across a few surprise birds. At a new Toledo Metropark called Howard Marsh, for the second year in a row 2 Black-necked Stilts have taken up residence.
And at the same park I counted 3 Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
Granted these are a couple of great birds for this part of the country. And as much as i enjoyed watching them, the real surprise came the morning i was leaving to go home. I stopped one more time at Howard Marsh to see if the Black-necked Stilts were any closer for some better pictures, which they weren’t, so I drove off and decided at the last minute to check out Metzger Marsh, which is right next door.
I was pulling out my camera to take a shot of a Common Gallinule when I noticed a small bird in the tall grass right next to the road. A Least Bittern. In the past I’ve only had fleeting glimpses of these reclusive birds, however this time was different.
“Life Bird #455″
On April 22nd in the small hamlet of Fennville Michigan, at the waster water treatment facility a birder was checking out all the waterfowl that had congregated on the 3 small holding ponds. Amongst all the Lesser Scaup, Buffelheads, Horned Grebes, Mallards and Blue-winged Teal was a Scaup species with a all black back. That’s no Scaup, that’s a Tufted Duck!
I’ve been keeping tabs on this bird as soon as it was posted on the ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook page.
The duck seemed pretty content and would leave from time to time, but always returning to the same location. So when Sunday morning came and the weather turned from rainy to sunny, I figured why not chase it. What are my chances of ever seeing a bird like this unless I’m on the East coast where they seem to show up somewhat regularly. It was a 330 mile one way trip, and I really wanted to drive home after seeing the bird. So off I went.
Being a Sunday morning traffic was pretty light until I got to Kalamazoo, but still it wasn’t that bad. I got to Fennville, found the waste water treatment facility at 3:10 pm.
Even at a distance of 700 feet, I quickly re-found the bird and was able to assist other birders find it. Owning a spotting scope sure does pay off at times like these.
Most of the time while I was there it kept it’s head tucked so you weren’t able to see it’s tell tale “tuft”. So when it finally raised it’s head I just started snapping away in hopes of capturing one head shot with the Tuft showing.
The bottom photo I included to show the color comparison on the back between the Lesser Scaup and the Tufted Duck.
It was a long day and I didn’t get home till after 10 pm, however I got my lifer # 455!
One of my new pet projects is to collect the Warbler photos I’ve taken over the years, delete the bad ones and store the average to above average ones in a new album on my Flickr page. The recent posting of my Prairie Warbler photos was the first in the hopes of getting decent shots to fill in the many blanks.
If you’re interested in my Warbler Album on Flickr, the link is below.
So yesterday I decided to head off to a local park where Louisiana Waterthrush can be common in the Spring. The park has a trail that cuts through a gorge with a nice flowing stream which is perfect. It was pretty quiet as I approached the area where they’ve been spotted recently. I hear their familiar song first. Now the tough part, locating the bird.
It takes several minutes before I’m able to get on the bird, then move into position to snap off dozens of shots before settling on this one.
As I was about to leave for the day and head home I decided to check my local birding Facebook page to see what’s going on. Well it turns out Ellis Lake has a Wilson’s Phalarope and 2 Cattle Egrets. So off I go.
The birds in question weren’t either in the lake, they were in the agricultural field that was partially flooded from all the rain, and the fact that the area sits in a real low lying area that’s prone to floods. The park sits so low that bordering the park sits the ancient remains of the Miami-Erie Canal.
Well the cattle Egrets were pretty easy to tick off.
Now the Wilson’s Phalarope was another matter all together. From what I gathered from other birders was that an eagle flew overhead and scattered the flock of wading birds and moved them all further away and a little more difficult to observe. So trekking out into the muddy and through standing water i was able to get some terrible photos of a great bird.