Tag Archives: California Woods

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

Magrish Riverland Preserve, California Woods, Fly Ash Pong, Ellis Lake, Zoo Farm

The forecast called for rain later on today around dinner time, so with Kathy and David at work, and Ethan spending some time with a friend in Springfield Ohio, it was no better time to get some early morning birding done before the rain came.

With the tremendous luck Jon and I had last Saturday at Shawnee Lookout I needed to see if the Warblers were still as plentiful. Traffic was light as I made my way down I-71 towards my first stop for the day, Magrish Riverland Preserve. 

Seasonal flooding can make this park almost impassable along some of the lower trails, however today the trails were open and the song birds were active as I pulled into the parking lot. And it’s from this parking lot that some of the best birding can be found. Prothonotary Warblers breed here and are always a delight as flashes of yellow catch the corner of your eye. 2 early Blackpoll Warblers were singing and giving some decent views from the parking lot as well. I meet a friend of a friend who is also a birder, so we hooked up for about 30 minutes. After which he left to take care of some work and I made my way slowly through the park and back towards my car for the short 3 minute drive to my next stop. California Woods and my hopes of catching a Louisiana Waterthrush.

At 113 acres this little gem within the confines for Cincinnati offers some great birding. It has some very nice hiking trails and a stream which attracts the Waterthrush. I normally just stick close to the road and the stream where the most activity is. However today I decided to take a hike and enjoy the solitude of the woods.

IMG_3757The beginning of Trillium Trail

The wild flowers were in bloom as I made my way up the trail to the top of the ridge, where it winds about and then slowly descends.



Vireos and Gnatcatchers were keeping me company as fewer and fewer Warblers were seen, let alone heard. The trees were really leafing out making it harder to see anything in the canopy.

After reaching the bottom I started to walk back towards my car. Across from where I parked there is this small open area where birds will sometimes feed making it easier to see them. A bridge spans the stream and terminates at this open area. That’s when I heard the Waterthrush. It was staying one step ahead of me as I chased it down the stream towards the entrance to the park. It finally came to rest long enough for me to snap this poor photo.

IMG_3768He’s right in the center with this leaf blocking it’s head.

Now I’m happy. And with that recent addition to my year list it was time to head off North to my next stop, Ellis Lake. However on the way I made a quick stop at this series of small, fenced in ponds that local birders call “Fly Ash Pond”. They’re not very nice to look at and because it has a fence around might be a good thing. Who knows what could be growing in there. But it can be a hot spot for birds, and today it was for me, because out of the corner of my eye a flash of blue zipped by and perched on the fence. My first thought was Indigo Bunting. But being my lucky day it turns out to be a Blue Grosbeak.

IMG_2514A truly sad picture, but one where you can use it to ID the bird.

Happy once again with yet another new bird for the year I drove up the highway towards Ellis Lake to see if any more shore birds were there. With the afternoon wearing on and chores facing me when I get home this stop and the next were short. A small flock of Least Sandpipers were seen feeding along the edge of one of the larger sky pools that dotted the field at Ellie Lake. More wading birds were there than has been in the past few visits, so maybe things will turn around especially with this coming rain.

My last quick stop was the Cincinnati Zoo Farm near my home. Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers were the only wading birds here, so after scanning the ponds for about 30 minutes I made my way home and the impending mowing of the lawn.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Cooper’s Hawk
  4. Northern Parula
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Blackpoll Warbler
  7. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  8. Prothonotary arbler
  9. Common Yellowthroat
  10. Louisiana Waterthrush
  11. Palm Warbler
  12. Pine Warbler
  13. Yellow-throated Vireo
  14. Red-eyed Vireo
  15. Warbling Vireo
  16. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  17. Chipping Sparrow
  18. Field Sparrow
  19. White-throated Sparrow
  20. Swamp Sparrow
  21. Song Sparrow
  22. Gray Catbird
  23. Northern Cardinal
  24. Carolina Chickadee
  25. Tufted Titmouse
  26. American Robin
  27. American Goldfinch
  28. Mourning Dove
  29. Blue Jay
  30. Indigo Bunting
  31. Carolina Wren House Wren
  32. Pileated Woodpecker
  33. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  34. Downy Woodpecker
  35. Northern Flicker
  36. Brown Thrasher
  37. Blue Grosbeak
  38. White-breasted Nuthatch
  39. Eastern Towhee
  40. Canada Goose
  41. Great Blue Heron
  42. Killdeer
  43. Common Grackle
  44. Red-winged Black Bird
  45. Solitary Sandpiper
  46. Pectoral Sandpiper
  47. Spotted sandpiper
  48. Least Sandpiper
  49. Greater Yellowleg
  50. Lesser Yellowleg
  51. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  52. Mallard
  53. Wood Duck
  54. Blue-winged Teal
  55. Eastern Phoebe

Notes From The Field

Daniel Drake Park, California Woods, Magrish Riverlands Preserve, Armleder Park, Avoca Trailhead Park, & Grand Valley

If you haven’t noticed by now, yesterdays field trip involved following the Little Miami River north from California Woods, and ending at Grand Valley. Granted Daniel Drake Park doesn’t border the Little Miami, however it is on the way, so I stopped there first. Several weeks ago a Pine Warbler was sighted there, so I thought I’d see if the bird was still there. They have a nice stand of Evergreens which would entice me if I was a Pine Warbler.

Now there’s something about Pine Warblers that drives me nuts. They sound almost identical to Chipping Sparrows. So for over an hour I chased down every song that sounded like a Pine Warbler, only to find it to be another Chipping Sparrow. A Pine Warbler was later spotted at Avoca Trailhead.

From there it was a short drive to California Woods to try and find another target bird for the day, a Louisiana Waterthrush. Lick Run Creek runs through this 113 acre heavily wooded forest. And it’s along this creek that I hope to find the Waterthrush. I’ve seen Waterthrush here in the past, and some recent sightings has given me confidence that I’ll spot at least one. I hope. For 30 minutes I walked up and down the road hearing and see everything but a Louisiana Waterthrush. I didn’t want to get too far away from the creek and hike up into the woods, even as tempting as it looked. At one point I went back to the bird-mobile and reacquainted myself with it’s song. 2 minutes later I hear the song coming from the nature center. The song was loud and clear and constant. I had it cornered in a bend of the creek prior to the bridge when it flew to a nearby tree and continued to sing. Getting a proper ID on it was the easy part, getting a picture was different. Like most Warblers, they don’t like to sit still long enough for photos. Digi-binning a was out of the question, so I pulled out my other camera and took this photo.

I wish the Waterthrush was as cooperative as this Eastern Towhee.

2 minutes after leaving California Woods, I pull into Magrish Riverlands Preserve. This is one of my favorite spots for migrant Warblers and with the dry weather we’ve had lately, it should be relatively dry. Well I was correct on the dry part. For the hour I spent here I would have thought the birding would be better than it was. Picking up a couple FOS birds, I made my way to Armleder Park, where the bulk of the day I was going to spend.

Armleder Park was a bustle of activity as I pulled in. I think every dog owner in Cincinnati had their dogs romping in the enclosed dog parks. That’s right they have 2 of them now. I guess it’s like an overflow parking lot for dogs.  Families were out in force with young ones in tow as they biked, hiked, skated, their way around the paved paths that loop around and through the park. For myself it was onto the “Bean Field”. And what do my wondering eyes should appear, but Great Egrets.

As the Sun rose higher, the morning frost finally melted away and more layers of clothing peeled off. Getting along into the late morning and early afternoon my target birds of Savannah and Vesper Sparrows were becoming harder to find. I did find one Savannah Sparrow as it hide under a bush.

Savannah Sparrow

I dipped on the Vesper Sparrow but I did have some luck with 2 fly over Rusty Blackbirds. I did find one Song Sparrow that held still long enough for me to get these 2 pretty good pictures.

The Tree Swallows were everywhere today. Laying claim to empty Bluebird houses, they were easy to photograph as they lighted on the post that held up the bird house.

With a couple of hours till needing to be back home I left Armleder Park and followed the river to Avoca Trailhead Park. Situated along the bike trail this is a small park with river access. Plus it has a lot of potential for some good birding. This is where I picked up a Pine and Yellow-throated Warbler. With one more stop before home I left Avoca Trailhead Park on my way to Grand Valley. Which turned out to be rather disappointing. If there were any ducks on the lake they were all scared off by the fisherman and children playing. I was able to spot one lone Horned Grebe which I thought was a great find considering.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Mourning Dove
  2. Rock Dove
  3. Northern Cardinal
  4. Tufted Titmouse
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Blue Jay
  7. White-throated Sparrow
  8. White-crowned Sparrow
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. Savannah Sparrow
  11. Field Sparrow
  12. Chipping Sparrow
  13. House Sparrow
  14. House Finch
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Common Crow
  18. Rusty Blackbird
  19. Red-winged Blackbird
  20. Canada Goose
  21. American Robin
  22. American Coot
  23. Mallard
  24. Wood Duck
  25. Blue-winged Teal
  26. Great Egret
  27. Great Blue Heron
  28. Lesser Yellowleg
  29. Pectoral Sandpiper
  30. Killdeer
  31. Bank Swallow
  32. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  33. Barn Swallow
  34. Tree Swallow
  35. Eastern Towhee
  36. Louisiana Waterthrush
  37. Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler
  38. Pine Warbler
  39. Downy Woodpecker
  40. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  41. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  42. Brown-headed Cowbird
  43. Carolina Wren
  44. Cooper’s Hawk
  45. Red-tailed Hawk
  46. Turkey Vulture
  47. Eastern Meadowlark
  48. Horned Grebe
  49. Pied-billed Grebe
  50. Northern Mockingbird
  51. Belted Kingfisher