Tag Archives: Daniel Drake Park

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
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Notes From The Field/ #294

Daniel Drake Park, Bass Island, Armleder Park

I wanted to do one more field trip before I go on vacation next weekend, so I was up at my normal birding time, 6:00 am, and I’m out the door at 7:15 for the drive to Daniel Drake Park.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Drake Park, nor have I ever birded there. It was a cool, overcast morning as I pulled into the parking lot and noticed Mark, the group leader for the day had also just pulled in. All told we had 9 total people join in. It was a nice small group, with some very experienced birders mixed in.

A very cool picnic shelter at Drake Park.

It’s not a very big park at only 66 acres, and with being located on a hill top overlooking I-71 the potential for good birding is definitely there, just not today.

The group passing underneath 2 rows of large evergreens

Even with the high winds from yesterday, they still weren’t able to dislodge some of the beautiful Autumn leaves from this tree at Drake Park.

After about 1 hour at Drake Park, Mark decided we head over to Bass Island. Another new place for me to visit. I had a rough idea as to it’s location but wasn’t quite sure as we drove through Mariemont towards the bridge that heads into Newtown. Recently the warbler activity has been very hot here, so why not check it out for ourselves.

Another small park that borders the Little Miami River, geared more towards people who canoe or fish. Birding was sporadic as we found pockets of warblers, then after 10 minutes they’d be gone. It became quite obvious that the Yellow-rumped Warbler was the warbler for the day with large numbers as we continued to bird the area.  After about an hour we left Bass Island behind and made our way towards our last destination for the day, Armleder Park.

Now I’ve been here before, though it’s been awhile. We parked near the dog park and started to walk along the paved path South towards Duck Creek. Armleder Park is a pretty good size park at 305 acres with a 1.9 mile paved path that circles the park. And in the middle you have this marvelous, open grassland. Along the river there is a trail that runs parallel to the Little Miami River which offers some very good birding. And that was the direction we were heading, towards the river and the shelter of the trees.

A portion of the group birding the woods that run along the river.

We continued our march northward with the river on our right through some pretty dense vegetation and plenty of these plants that left black burrs stuck all over our clothes. And me with a fleece jacket. This hike ended at an overlook of the Little Miami River to see if anything was feeding on or near the rivers edge.

After hacking our way through some giant ragweed plants, I think, we finally found the paved path. Now we moved towards the north working the edge to see if we could spook some sparrows up. We crossed the paved East/West path that goes from the shelter to the river overlook, and moved towards the large fields to the north. We all dove right into the field as we kept sharp eyes out for movement. There were plenty of sparrow activity, but the grass was so thick it was really difficult to get them to pop up even for a second so we could ID them. As we moved through the tall grass we lost 3 members of the party to previous engagements, which left 5 of us working the field and another gentleman walking the paved path on the river side of the park. As we approached a mowed trail that bisects the field from east to west we saw it spook and fly away.  John and Mark both called out “Rail”, and I immediately thought Sora as it flew away from me and down near a small tree 50 yards away. John was the first to say that it could be a Yellow Rail, especially with the kind of habitat we were walking in. So the 5 of us spread out to see if we could spook it again. And we did, and with certainty that it was a Yellow Rail. An incredibly secretive bird right before our eyes. Needless to say the group was very excited about this bird especially the ones who scored a new life bird. Myself included.

This is the mowed path, and on the left is the area where the rail was spotted.

One of a trio of Viceroy butterflies found along the mowed path.

Exhausted from all the “Rail” excitement we made our way back to our cars and to home where postings of this bird will be immediately put on the internet.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Blue Jay
  2. Northern cardinal
  3. Tufted Titmouse
  4. American Crow
  5. Chimney Swift
  6. Gray catbird
  7. Carolina Chickadee
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. Mourning Dove
  10. American Robin
  11. Eastern Goldfinch
  12. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  13. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  14. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  15. Chipping Sparrow
  16. Pine Warbler
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. House Sparrow
  19. Canada Goose
  20. Killdeer
  21. Tennessee Warbler
  22. Blackpoll Warbler
  23. White-breasted Nuthatch
  24. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  25. Mallard
  26. Cooper’s Hawk
  27. House Wren
  28. Indigo Bunting
  29. Northern Flicker
  30. Hairy Woodpecker
  31. Osprey
  32. Turkey Vulture
  33. Bobolink
  34. Wood Duck
  35. Nashville Warbler
  36. Song Sparrow
  37. Lincoln Sparrow
  38. Red-winged Blackbird
  39. Eastern Meadowlark
  40. YELLOW RAIL-LIFER