Tag Archives: Birding

Notes From The Field/ New Lifer

Yesterday evening while my wife and I were visiting a local Cincinnati brewery with another couple, my Belgian Quad consumption was interrupted by my birding associate Jon with a text.

Next is how our conversation went.

Jon: Female King Eider found at Crooked Run today by Don Morse

Les: Holy Cow.   You chasing it?

Jon: I would love to but not unless Samantha (wife) changes her mind. I’d like to be out there at dawn.       We’ll see.      Check the Cincinnati birders Facebook page- there’s photos.

Les: Saw the picture. This is worth chasing

Jon:  Seems legit

Les: Let me know. I’m willing to run after it

Jon: I’m working on it…probably meet you out there early if I can get the necessary approval here.             I’d bring Phoebe (child) as part of my negotiations.

Les: Kathy (my wife) said go, so I’m leaving early and try to be there by dawn.

So as you can see this is how our conversation went last evening. And yes Jon, Phoebe and myself were able to tick off King Eider as another lifer. This is the 2nd sighting of a King Eider in Ohio this year. Just a few weeks ago another one was sighted on Lake Erie, so seeing this one on the Ohio River is very exciting for all area birders.

The weather conditions on the river were very foggy, and getting sharp clear photos this morning was next to impossible. Granted I could have waited around for a few more hours, however I have stuff to get done today.

Life Bird # 448

 

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Notes From The Field

There are 3 species of North American Scoters, the Black, Surf, and White-winged. For us in Ohio they can be a common bird seen mostly on Lake Erie. They do wander south of the lake but with usually with irregularity. Last year for instance during my January 100 Species Challenge I was able to tick off both Surf and Black Scoters at a Metropark in Dayton. And towards the end of this year the northern half of the state is seeing the most of the 3 Scoter species.

However the day before Thanksgiving I noticed a small sighting post on our local bird watching Facebook page of a Black Scoter at the beach at Caesar Creek State Park. This really peaked my interest since Black Scoters are the rarest of the 3 in my opinion. But with the holiday staring me in the face with those last minute preparations I was unable to chase this bird till yesterday.

My first stop however was Cowan Lake State Park to check out the reports of a pretty reliable Long-tailed Duck that was seen on some sediment settling ponds that were being used for all the dredging that’s going on at the lake. I dipped on the duck and later found out that it was scared off by a Bald Eagle and never came back.

So after Cowan Lake I made my way of to Caesar Creek and hope for better luck. I parked my car and approached the south half of the beach. After 100 yards I set up my scope and started to scan. Nothing as I scanned from the north to the south. The sun was still rising and the glare on the water really burned to retinas. A I continued to scan towards the new marina I saw one lone bird on the water.

This really couldn’t be the Black Scoter, could it?

As I moved closer to the lake with a better angle out of the sun I was able to get my scope on the bird. And indeed it was a Black Scoter.

I stayed with the bird for about 50 minutes as it moved the length of the beach, and me trying to get a closer photo. Despite all my efforts this distant shot was all I could get of what I think is a great bird.

Notes From The Field

On a recent trip to Ellis Lake, I came upon this beauty.

These are some of the hardest birds to spot since they only move through during migration. So our window of opportunity is small to find and locate this beautiful Nelson’s Sparrow

Sandpiper At dawn

The beauty of retirement is revealing itself as I start to take advantage of some of my favorite pastimes, like birding anytime I want.

I drove to Caesar Creek State Park to check the beach and the local gull flock to see if anything might show up a little unusual. To my surprise the beach was void of any gulls. They were all roosting on a temporary dock located a couple hundred yards off the beach. So I started to scan the beach and pick through all the Killdeers when I noticed 1 lone “Peep”. This one bird had my total focus for about 30 minutes as I positioned myself against the glare of the rising sun.

It may be only a Least Sandpiper, but the fact that it was all alone on this near empty beach drew me to it. I took dozens of photos, but I choose this one because of the way the sun hits it, and the contrast between the bird and the green stuff it was feeding in.

A Gift From Irma

My plans for today was go out with Jon and continue on hunting migrants in and around the lower Little Miami River valley as it nears the Ohio River. We were to meet at 7:15 and have a nice morning of birding. That was until I looked on one of the Facebook pages where birders report rarities in Ohio. With the effects of Irma still being felt all over the southeastern seaboard, reports of rare bird sightings are popping up everywhere.

States reporting rarities include Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some of the great birds being seen are Black-capped Petrel, Great Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater, White-tailed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Sooty & Bridled Terns, Brown Noddy and Band-tailed Storm Petrel. And this list might be incomplete as to states and species reports aren’t finally in. Now we can include Ohio.

While I was out last evening celebrating with my wife on her birthday with some friends, a report of a Sooty Tern at a gravel quarry in Dover Ohio hit me pretty hard. My first thought was I need this bird for my life list, and where is Dover Ohio. 3 hours away when I finally checked my map app on my phone.

Now’s the question as to what to do. To chase or not. I made my final decision early this morning was I texted Jon to ask him if he wanted to join me. His reply was he couldn’t be gone all day, so off I went.

It was a beautiful late summer morning with light traffic as I made my way towards Columbus where I would pick up I-70 towards Zanesville. From there I turned north on I-77 which takes you finally to Cleveland. With one pit along the way it took just over 3 hours and my stupid GPS had me getting off at the wrong exit. It was a good thing I checked Google map before I left.

The gravel quarry was less than a mile from the exit, and when I turned on the road where birders were saying was the best place to park and watch the bird, there were plenty of cars and people with scopes out.

Always a good sign. An older man approached as he was leaving and said it’s just sitting there on a old tire and easy to find.

The bird was so far away that I had to use the digital zoom just to be able to get a half way decent photo. The next photo is my camera at maximum optical zoom. This will give you a good idea how far away the bird was.

So from a photographic it’s a difficult shot. But really it’s not the point of the chase. Granted when I logged the sighting into eBird a photo is really important for verifying the report, it was just total excitement for me. And to top it off this is my first life bird for 2017. It’s kind of a let down after 2 years of great birding and impressive numbers of new birds, but I’ll take it. Who knows when I’ll ever get to visit the Dry Tortugas where the Sooty Tern can easily be seen.

Quite Possibly The Cutest Sandpiper

First things first before I get to my blog post about cute sandpipers, I’m finally retired. After 40 years as a Surgical Technician at the same health care facility I’ve punched out for my last time. Which in turn should free me up more birding, and chasing rarities. So hopefully I won’t be so lazy lately in getting blog posts out to all my readers.

So when you think of cute Sandpipers there’s quite a few that come to mind. But first let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to Sandpipers. There’s a lot of cute birds that scurry about along everyone’s favorite beach or lake front. So let’s omit some of these.

This little cutey is a Snowy Plover which I found at Gulf Island National Seashore. Now you have to admit that is this one cute bird, however it’s a Plover.

The same holds true to this gorgeous with loads of cuteness to boot.

This Piping Plover was photographed at Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the cuteness, and rarity factor is definitely there, but once again it’s a Plover.

Now here’s a picture of a legit Sandpiper, a Purple Sandpiper seen back in  2013 at East Fork State Park. Now this is a great bird, however when it comes to being a cute Sandpiper, ………..well?

Now this heavily cropped and terrible photo is of a Stilt Sandpiper. A reasonably cute Sandpiper in it’s own right, but once again there are cuter Sandpipers out there.

Now this Dunlin is a Sandpiper even though it doesn’t have Sandpiper attached to it’s name. And it’s a plump very cute bird with a lot going for it. But alas not the cutest.

 

Now this Pectoral Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowleg are very cool, and quite honestly they are cute, but not enough to be called the cutest.

Now breaking into the top 5 of cute Sandpipers is this Semipalmated Sandpiper seen the same day as the above photo of the Piping Plover. This is one cute bird, and his next of kin is also very cute.

The Least Sandpiper with it’s distinct yellowish/ green legs.

Seen along both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, the Sanderling is everyone’s little darling of the beach as they search for food as the waves crash ashore. Always on the move, they can be approached if your quick enough, and getting a decent photo on these fast moving bird is always a challenge. And I would have to agree with most people in saying this is a really cute bird.

But there’s one more.

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper, is quite honestly the cutest Sandpiper.

This gorgeous bird was first reported at Caesar Creek State Park this last Saturday, and stuck around through the evening. Very rare except during migration, I couldn’t wait on this bird any longer. So on Sunday after I went birding with Jon, and we saw yet another Buff-breasted at Lost Bridge, I raced up to Caesar Creek to look for that one.

The day was sunny, with the sun hitting the bird at the right angle. the beach was busy with people on this beautiful Sunday, but the Buff-breasted wasn’t bothered and busily feed along the shore.

To me they appear as small and fragile bird, with a small head with that beautiful coloration. Very distinct markings on the back with those nice yellow legs.

All told I took over 120 photos of this bird. But when you’re the cutest Sandpiper you don’t spare the SD card.