Tag Archives: Brookville Lake

Hudsonian Godwit…and this time I mean it. ( Life Bird 345)

Brookville Lake is a massive lake, sandwiched between Brookville and Liberty Indiana. And at the northern most point near Liberty the lake becomes real shallow and mudflats develops, which in turn attracts countless shore birds, waders, and gulls. It is a hot spot that most Tri-state birder are familiar with, and probably frequent on a regular basis. And considering the 90 minute drive, I try to make a visit at least a couple of times a year if not more. So yesterday after work I made the drive to Brookville Lake to finally put to rest my  questionable sighting of a Hudsonian Godwit back in 2012.

Doubting oneself about a sighting can become a nagging thought that stays in the back of your mind till you finally make that 100%, no-doubt-about-it, in your face, absolutely positive, sighting. I needed this bird in a bad way. So when this particular bird was originally sighted on Sunday evening, and then stayed around when it was confirmed on Monday, I never thought in a million years the Godwit would stick around. Then it was sighted again on Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Now I’m getting that “twitch”. Wednesday evening I was thinking should I stash my gear in the bird-mobile just in case. Surely this bird won’t hang around for one more day. It always seems that these particular birds are just one day wonders, never to be seen by no more than a few lucky birders.

So on Thursday while at work I would frequently check both the Indiana Listserv and the Cincinnati Birders sighting log for anyone to post a sighting on this bird. It wasn’t till about 11:30 when the Indian Listserv showed a birder seeing the Godwit that morning. Well that was enough for me. I called my son to bring my gear and meet me by my car at 2:30.

The drive was painfully long. Normally I’m a pretty patient driver, however at times like this where anything could happen to send this bird flying south for the winter, slow traffic turns me into a nervous wreak and a raving lunatic all at the same time. It was probably a good thing I was by myself.

As I pull up another car is parked with a gentleman getting out of his car and attaching his camera to his monopod. I pull along side an asked if he saw the bird? What bird was I talking about he asked back. Obviously not aware of the Hudsonian Godwit sighting, I pulled over and grabbed my bins and spotting scope. I walked back to their car an introduced myself to Steve and Jeanne Waddle from Richmond Indiana. They frequently come down to this part of the lake an do a little bird watching and take some photographs. Being relatively new to bird watching they were unaware of the Hudsonian Godwit being here for several days.

I quickly set up my scope and started a methodical scan. It’s a large area and this bird could easily be missed among all the other birds and fallen trees that liter the mudflats. I scanned from right to left. Then I repeated from left to right. No bird. I was starting to get that “am I going to dip on the bird again” feeling. Then I saw it. OMG!




As you can probably tell by now these are some really terrible pictures. But in my defense I really had the camera maxed out both optically and digitally. It is super grainy and I tried my best to sharpen it up with my computer program.




My spotting scope offered a much sharper image and I was really able to notice the important field markings. The black tail for one is right on for Hudsonian. And when a immature Bald eagle flew over the area and all the birds flushed I was able to see the dark underwing lining with the almost black leading edge of the wings.

I made sure both Steve and Jeanne had good looks, and for the 90 minutes I was there we got to know each other better. And it turns out Steve is a subscriber to my blog. Small world isn’t it.

I was on cloud 9 during my long drive home, having finally sighted a proper Hudsonain Godwit, and meeting new friends.

All I need now is a Whimbrel and my nemesis bird list will be finished.

Notes From The Field

Brookville Lake, Lost Bridge, Fernald Preserve, Smith Tract Park, & Liberty Indiana

For some reason I’m not finding the time to keep the old blog updated, and for that I apologize. Life outside of birding has been a little hectic for myself and my family so please be patient with me as I’ll try to do a better job.

This last Saturday found my good friend Gene and myself on the road for a full morning and afternoon of some long distance birding. Still wanting to hit the jackpot with shorebirds has been kind of dismal down in this part of Ohio, so we were hoping for a turn of the coin in terms of find some good shorebirds. My plan for the morning was to hit the mud flats at Brookville Lake, however Gene had been at Lost bridge the evening before  and reported some good shorebirds, including a pair of Baird’s Sandpipers.

Anyway you slice it, it’s a 45 minute drive at the least to Lost Bridge from my house, and with the lighter than average traffic it still took 45 minutes. It was still early when we arrived and upon checking out the large dirt field next to Lost Bridge for shorebirds, we were disappointed with the lack of standing water and total lack of birds. And the same could be said about Lost Bridge. Even though there was plenty of exposed sand and mug under, and extending up river and down from the bridge, there was hardly any birds.

Knowing we had a long drive to Brookville Lake we decided to leave and get a head start to the lake. The far northern end of the lake is the best spot for any shorebirds. The water is very shallow, and in years past it has been a hotspot for some great birds, except today.

While driving down to the lake we would stop and do some roadside birding and had some good luck doing that. That’s until we made our way to the lake. The water level was still too high for the smaller wading birds, so we were left with the usual Great Egrets, and Great Blue Herons.


However upon doing some scanning of the Ring-billed Gulls that were congregating I noticed a Caspian Tern had joined the gulls. A nice bird for the day count.


We searched for many a minute for anything that would excite us, but to no avail. We needed a spark to the day so we made our way to Liberty Indiana to see if we could re-locate the Eurasian-collared Doves that have been known to hang out at these grain silos in the middle of town. ECDO are becoming more and more prevalent in this part of the country, even though eBird still considers them a rarity in Ohio, but in Indiana just over the border they aren’t. Anyway it was Gene who noticed 2 doves perched on a wire next to the grain silos. getting my bins on them I noticed the squared off tail and white undertail coverts, plumber in size in relation to the Mourning Dove sitting next to it. Even though I couldn’t see the black collar, the other field marks was dead on.


After having success with finding the ECDO, we started to make our slow drive back. With frequent stops at Fernald Preserve, Smith Tract Park we had a pretty good day count for the middle of August. Some of the sparrow species that were present just weeks earlier are now gone like Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, or they’re just not showing themselves. We did have a great look at both male and female Blue Grosbeaks, which I’ve seen almost every time I’ve been out this Summer.

Saturday was a great example of being able to spot quality birds in good numbers. Granted our objective was to find shorebirds, and we did find a few, however we made the best of the situation and came away with a nice number  of birds during these dog days of Summer. They’re out there, you just have to be both diligent and patient, and you’ll see them.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. American Kestrel
  3. Black Vulture
  4. Turkey Vulture
  5. Red-shouldered Hawk
  6. Red-tailed Hawk
  7. Osprey
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. Great Egret
  10. Green Heron
  11. Spotted Sandpiper
  12. Pectoral Sandpiper
  13. Lesser Yellowleg
  14. Double-crested Cormorant
  15. Mute Swan
  16. Eastern Bluebird
  17. Eastern Kingbird
  18. Northern Mockingbird
  19. Tree Swallow
  20. Chimney Swift
  21. Cliff Swallow
  22. Barn Swallow
  23. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  24. Purple Martin
  25. Northern Flicker
  26. Blue Jay
  27. House Wren
  28. Carolina Wren
  29. Carolina Chickadee
  30. Indigo Bunting
  31. Blue Grosbeak
  32. White-eyed Vireo
  33. Eastern Towhee
  34. Canada Goose
  35. Mallard
  36. Wood Duck
  37. Belted Kingfisher
  38. Song Sparrow
  39. Field Sparrow
  40. Chipping Sparrow
  41. House Sparrow
  42. Common Yellowthroat
  43. Downy Woodpecker
  44. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  45. Eastern Phoebe
  46. Northern cardinal
  47. American Robin
  48. American Crow
  49. Mourning Dove
  50. Eurasian-collared Dove
  51. Caspian Tern
  52. Ring-billed Gull
  53. Common Grackle
  54. Red-winged Black Bird
  55. Pigeon
  56. American Goldfinch
  57. Scarlet tanager
  58. Gray Catbird
  59. European Starling
  60. Killdeer

Notes From The Field

Brookville Lake Reservoir

As we all know Spring can be quite an unusual month in terms of bizarre weather. It was just a few days ago the we had a nice dusting of 6 inches of snow, and yesterday my car thermometer was displaying a 70 degree reading. And it was during this 70 degree Sunday that myself and Jonathan joined up with a rather large group from the Cincinnati Bird Club to circumnavigate Brookville Lake and surrounding countryside.

The group was meeting up at a park-n-ride lot on the western part of the city, when caravan together to the lake which was about a 30 minute drive if we headed directly there, however the group leader across hill and dale in search of anything that flies. We started at the southern end of the lake and made our way along the western side stopping here and there, and then cutting across back roads through farm country which is as flat as Kansas, but with more trees.

IMG_3726We were searching for Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs along these roads with wide open fields on either side. Horned Larks were all that we spotted.

Being the winter time they lower the water level which in turn concentrates the ducks into smaller areas. The one nice thing about Brookville lake is that it’s a narrow lake which makes for good viewing if the birds are on the other side of the lake. Also their are access roads all over the place, so getting to the birds can be a little easier than some of the large lakes around where I live.

IMG_3725A view from the parking lot towards the public beach.

As the morning wore on and the sun warmed up the atmosphere, the Vultures came out in force. Both Black and Turkey Vultures were everywhere. And Bald Eagles, which we counted 7 individuals mostly immature.

One of the hotspots on the lake is the famous mudflats on County Line Road at the far northern end of the lake. And it was here that we started to see Sandhill Cranes in the area of the mudflats where they meet the lake.

IMG_2384These Sandhill Cranes have been here all winter and still continue flying back and forth between the surrounding fields and the lake.

IMG_3727This is the view of the far northern end of the lake. It’s here that we can find some of the best wading birds during Spring migration, just not today.

The rest of the morning and a good portion of the afternoon was spent driving to more and more places checking out the lake. Which isn’t a bad thing but when you have a large group, however it does becomes rather tiresome to unload a load back up again time after time after time.

One of our stops on this birding adventure was the small town of Liberty Indiana where we were planning on a pit-stop for food and bladder relief. And it just so happens that in every small town in both Ohio and Indiana there will be some grain silos where area farmers bring in the bounty of their fields. It just so happens that according to Jon that a Eurasian-collared Dove has been seen near and around these particular silos. It took just a couple of minutes till we found a pair.

IMG_2407This is one of my better efforts as you can see where the bird gets it’s name. You can see the tell tale black band that runs along the back of the birds neck.

After a few more stops around the lake Jon and I decided it was time to pack it in. That 1 less hour of sleep was taking it’s toll and we needed a nap. It was a very good day with some good number of birds.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  2. Brown-headed Cowbird
  3. Red-winged Blackbird
  4. Common Grackle
  5. American Robin
  6. Tufted Titmouse
  7. Eastern Bluebird
  8. Northern Cardinal
  9. Dark-eyed Junco
  10. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  11. Tree Swallow-FOS
  12. Starling
  13. Mourning Dove
  14. Eurasian-collared Dove-FOS
  15. Sandhill Crane
  16. Black Vulture
  17. Turkey Vulture
  18. Bald Eagle
  19. American Crow
  20. Red-tailed Hawk
  21. Coopers Hawk
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch
  23. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  24. Great Blue Heron
  25. Northern Mockingbird
  26. Belted Kingfisher
  27. Rock Dove
  28. Lesser Scaup
  29. Greater Scaup
  30. American Wigeon
  31. Bufflehead
  32. Ring-necked Duck
  33. Redhead
  34. Ruddy Duck
  35. Horned grebe
  36. Pied-billed grebe
  37. Green-winged teal
  38. Gadwall
  39. Bufflehead
  40. Mute Swan
  41. Osprey-FOS
  42. Eastern Phoebe-FOS
  43. Common Goldeneye
  44. Eastern Meadowlark
  45. Horned lark
  46. American Coot
  47. Canada Geese
  48. American Kestrel
  49. Herring Gull
  50. Ring-billed Gull
  51. Northern Flicker
  52. Eastern towhee
  53. Wood Duck-FOS
  54. Carolina Wren
  55. Song Sparrow
  56. House Sparrow
  57. Carolina Chickadee

Notes From The Field

Brookville Lake & Whitewater S.R.A.

As with the majority of my recent birding trips this one started out with a simple text message to Jonathan. “Hey Jon want to go birding”. Whereupon he’ll reply, “Sounds good, where do you want to go”. After this exchange of simple sentences begins the process of whittling down the details. With a beautiful day in-store we decided on something a little different for the both of us. We’ve both been to Brookville Lake in the past, however this time we wanted to dive in and try to get to know this area a little better than just driving to Treaty Line Road in the Spring for wading birds.

The morning begins with getting up at my normal weekday hour and setting about gathering my gear and getting onto Bing maps and studying the roads in and around the Brookville Lake area. Picking up Jon at 8 am we hit the highway for the long drive.

One of the target species today are Sandhill Cranes. My only experience with these beautiful birds is when I see them fly over. In recent years one of the most reliable places to see them in west of Seymour Indiana in a place called Ewing Bottoms. However this is a bit of a long drive and there have been some sightings of them in the Brookville area, so our choice was pretty easy.

We approached the lake from the south and our first stop is the dam. Walking out onto the dam we sat up our scopes in hopes of seeing anything. Except for a small group of Pied-billed Grebes and a bunch of busy White-throated Sparrows, the dam area wasn’t how we wanted to start the day. Jumping back into the bird-mobile we were off to follow up on the posting that Allan Claybon posted on the Sandhills, which would lead us to Whitewater S.R.A. If you look at a map of the area you’d see that both parks are adjacent to each other, so to get to the mud flats where Alan had seen the birds we have to first go through Whitewater Park. And if you’ve ever birded with Jon and myself in the past you’ll soon realize that we get distracted quite easily and go off the beaten path and forgo our true destination in search of other species.

So as we stopped and birded a certain area, we’d move onto the next. It was at one of these road side stops as we were checking out Evergreens for Crossbills and Siskins we heard Sandhill Cranes calling. Driving to where we heard them call, we pulled off the road and trekked into a field of corn stubble as the Cranes continued to call. After several minutes of trying to get into position we spotted the top of their heads as we counted about 30 cranes. However the view from this spot was awful so studying where we were, we had a good idea that we might be a better view if we left the park and follow this one road to where we might have a view.

And boy did we. In a corn field behind this farm house sits this massive flock.





You don’t really realize how one can feel when you see such magnificent birds at close range. We stood there for about 30 minutes as I jockeyed for different angles to get more digiscoped pictures. Just seeing them on the ground feeding like this was a true thrill and if you ever want to set the seed of bird watching in anyone, show them a sight like this.

Not wanting to spend the entire day at this location we reluctantly preceded with our day. We wanted to cover the lake and see what waterfowl had dropped in. Several boat ramps and public beach access area dot the lake and we drove to as many as we had time for We did find one area where we spotted several hundred ducks and geese, and if it wasn’t for this one spot we might have been skunked on any waterfowl for the day.

Constructed in 1968, Brookville Lake is 5,260 acres and 17 miles from north to south, so getting from one vantage point to the other takes some time, and with the shortening of daytime light time is precious. And as the day wore on we finally made our way to the northern end of the lake, just north of the Dunlapsville causeway which traverses the lake from east to west. Water levels were so low that this area was turned into a massive mud flats with small pools of standing water. It was quite a sight.

IMG_2005A lone Great Blue Heron in the shade.

However the most impressive display was all the Bald Eagles. At one point we counted 10 either in the sky or perched at one time. One might forget that you’re in Ohio and not Alaska.



In one of the small pools in the mud flats sat a group of 13 Sandhill Cranes. Viewing them through our scopes it was about this time we heard the “chortle” call of more cranes coming in out of the east. It was the large flock we had seen earlier feeding in the corn field coming to the mud flats. Wave after wave flew overhead as we marveled at the sight of these creatures glide in to join the others. They were everywhere, at least 200 individuals.



It was truly a great day of birding, and the notable birds for the day include:

  1. Sandhill Crane
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Black Vulture
  4. Bald Eagle
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. Northern Harrier
  7. Cooper’s Hawk
  8. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  9. American Kestrel
  10. Ring-billed Gull
  11. Bonaparte’s Gull
  12. Redhead
  13. Mallard
  14. Buffle Head
  15. Hooded Merganser
  16. Ruddy Duck
  17. Canada Goose
  18. Gadwall
  19. Northern Shoveler
  20. Green-winged Teal
  21. Pied-billed Grebe
  22. American Coot
  23. Mute Swan
  24. Great Blue Heron
  25. Belted Kingfisher
  26. Dark-eyed Junco
  27. Northern Cardinal
  28. White-throated Sparrow
  29. Tufted Titmoouse
  30. Carolina Chickadee
  31. Mourning Dove
  32. Rock Dove
  33. House Finch
  34. House Sparrow
  35. American Robin
  36. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  37. Downy Woodpecker
  38. Hairy Woodpecker
  39. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  40. American Goldfinch
  41. Eastern Bluebird
  42. Wild Turkey
  43. Horned Lark
  44. Blue Jay
  45. White-breasted Nuthatch
  46. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  47. Common Crow

Rare Bird Alert

Jon and Samantha Frodge reported 2 Hudsonian Godwits at Treaty Line Road at Brookville Lake. I’m not sure on the time of day, however with this information it will be an early morning for me as I chase this life bird.

2010-A Year In Rerview

As the year closes, I feel that a reflective post is in order. Review what has transpired from a birding prospective over the course of the year 2010.

If I had to sum up 2010 in one word, it would be “Incredible”. The minute I made the decision to devote more of my spare time to birding, it has been a thrilling ride. The triggering mechanism that hurtled me to birding bliss was the purchase of my spotting scope. As I’ve said in the past, if it wasn’t for my spotting scope my “Life List” wouldn’t be what it is today. And when you can pull in that far away duck, and be able to identify it, that’s what keeps me coming back.

Following Cincinnati Bird Club’s web site, and religiously checking the postings of recent sightings has been invaluable. On a number of occasions I’ve followed up on a sighting that was posted, and I come away with a new bird for my life list. Case in point, the American Avocets at Cowen Lake State Park.

Discovering new places to visit has taken me to hot spots I normally wouldn’t go to. Just in the Tri-State area I’ve visited Boone County Cliffs, Shawnee Lookout Park, Winton Woods, Sharon Woods, Armleder Park, The Oxbow, Miami Whitewater Forest, Fernald Preserve, Halls Creek Preserve, Voice of America Park, Ft. Ancient State Memorial, Brookville Lake State Park, Cowan Lake State Park, Caesar Creek State Park, Magrish Riverland Preserve, and Spring Valley Wildlife Area. Some of my birding adventures have taken me on the road. I really enjoy traveling and hope to do more in 2011. Distant birding venues include Red River Gorge, Mackinac Island, Magee Marsh, Ottawa and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuges. Some of my more recent trips have taken me to Lake Erie, Killdeer Plains and Mercer Wildlife Areas.

I’m meeting new friends as I participate more and more in organized field trips. Whether they are sponsored by the Audubon Society, or Cincinnati Bird Club, joining a group, I feel, makes you a better birder. They all have pearls they want to share with an experienced novice like myself. I really enjoy field trips with knowledgeable and passionate birders. Either with a large group or my best friend Phil.

With the addition of “A Birder’s Notebook”, I’m able to share my thoughts and experiences to the public. This blog has taken my birding encounters just one step toward “Birding Happiness”. That may sound corny, but it’s true. To be able to share your thoughts and exploits with other people helps me to maintain my focus. To help educate birders and non-birders, whether it’s about “Birding Ethics”, to book reviews, I enjoy keeping my blog updated with the latest information.

Now onto my list of new birds I’ve seen this year. Now you may look at this list and say to yourself, “what a long list”. Just remember this is the first year that I put forth the effort to bird on a regular basis. Traveling to Magee Marsh in the Spring added to my life list quite a bit. My spotting scope has helped a little bit as well.

  1. Greater White-fronted Goose
  2. Ross’s Goose
  3. Cackling Goose
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Redhead
  6. Greater Scaup
  7. Lesser Scaup
  8. White-winged Scoter
  9. Black Scoter
  10. Long-tailed Duck
  11. Bufflehead
  12. Common Goldeneye
  13. Red-throated Loon
  14. Pacific Loon
  15. Horned Grebe
  16. Eared grebe
  17. Red-necked Grebe
  18. Black-crowned Night Heron
  19. Broad-winged Hawk
  20. Rough-legged Hawk
  21. Northern Harrier
  22. Merlin
  23. Sora
  24. American Golden Plover
  25. Semipalmated Plover
  26. Black-necked Stilt
  27. American Avocet
  28. Solitary sandpiper
  29. Greater Yellowlegs
  30. Lesser Yellowlegs
  31. Sanderling
  32. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  33. Least Sandpiper
  34. White-rumped sandpiper
  35. Baird’s Sandpiper
  36. Pectoral Sandpiper
  37. Dunlin
  38. Short-billed Dowitcher
  39. American Woodcock
  40. Wilson’s Snipe
  41. Bonaparte’s Gull
  42. Franklin’s Gull
  43. Herring Gull
  44. Great Black-backed Gull
  45. Caspian Tern
  46. Black Tern
  47. Pomarine Jaeger
  48. Short-eared Owl
  49. Northern Saw-whet Owl
  50. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  51. Willow Flycatcher
  52. Acadian Flycatcher
  53. Least Flycatcher
  54. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  55. White-eyed Vireo
  56. Blue-headed Vireo
  57. Philadelphia Vireo
  58. Red-eyed Vireo
  59. Horned Lark
  60. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  61. Winter Wren
  62. Sedge Wren
  63. Veery
  64. Grey-cheeked Thrush
  65. Swainson’s Thrush
  66. American Pipit
  67. Blue-winged Warbler
  68. Golden-winged Warbler
  69. Tennessee Warbler
  70. Orange-crowned Warbler
  71. Nashville Warbler
  72. Northern Parula
  73. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  74. Magnolia Warbler
  75. Cape May Warbler
  76. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  77. Black-throated Green Warbler
  78. Blackburnian Warbler
  79. Yellow-throated Warbler
  80. Pine Warbler
  81. Prairie Warbler
  82. Palm Warbler
  83. Bay-breasted Warbler
  84. Blackpoll Warbler
  85. American Redstart
  86. Prothonotary Warbler
  87. Worm-eating Warbler
  88. Ovenbird
  89. Northern Waterthrush
  90. Louisiana Waterthrush
  91. Kentucky Warbler
  92. Mourning Warbler
  93. Common Yellowthroat
  94. Hooded Warbler
  95. Wilson’s Warbler
  96. Canada Warbler
  97. Yellow-breasted Chat
  98. Lark Sparrow
  99. Henslow’s Sparrow
  100. Swamp Sparrow
  101. Lapland Longspur
  102. Snow Bunting
  103. Blue Grosbeak
  104. Dickcissel
  105. Orchard Oriole

So what’s in-store for me in 2011? Well, I’ll be picking up where I left off in 2010. Maintaining a consistent routine where I attempt to get out at least once a week. Keeping an eye on Ohio Listserv and Cincinnati Bird Club sightings log, to keep myself ahead of the game. Participating in more organized field trips, that will in turn build upon existing friendships,and hopefully produce more. Adding to my life list towards 300 different species.

Also this year I’m adding a new spotting scope to my birding tools. Why would I do such a thing when my present scope is only a year old? Well, I had issues with the eyepiece and cold weather. It wasn’t a very expensive spotting scope in the first place, and now would be a good time to up-grade. More on this as the purchase date draws near.

Phil and myself are presenting our 3rd annual Bird Study Merit Badge. The date has been set and the location has changed to Fernald preserve. I’m very excited about this years class. I love Fernald Preserve, and I’m sure the scouts will to.

And finally, I’ll be studying harder so I can improve upon my existing experience to be a better birder. See you in 2011.