Tag Archives: Grand Valley

Notes From The Field

Grand Valley Preserve

Jon and myself only had a couple of hours of birding yesterday so we didn’t want to squander any minute. We first went to Grand Valley to check on the ducks. As it turns out this preserve which in the past has held vast numbers of birds was totally void. Granted there was some ice covering the lake, however there was enough open water for something.

I wonder if these 2 Bald Eagles had anything to do with this?

Notes From The Field

“In Search of Red-necked Grebes”

This years great Red-necked Grebe invasion has taken the state by storm, and now it’s Jon’s and my chance to track down these visitors from the north. As you can see by the range map below that I downloaded from the web site, “All About Birds”, we may get one a year during the winter. Last winter we had one that stayed at Hidden Valley Lake for a long time and was included in my January 100 Species Challenge


They do winter over down into the United States, but it’s normally along both coasts. So what are they doing down here and in such great numbers? Well I’m sure thee is a logical ornithological reason for such an influx, but I’m pretty confident that this exceptionally cold winter has something to do with it. So whatever the reason we were out in the field and meeting up Grand Valley as our first stop.

With his Grandmothers birthday celebration in the early afternoon, our time was limited as we drove through the gate into Grand Valley. Still partially frozen over with only small pockets of open water, we quickly scanned the lake only to find 10 Common Mergansers that quickly took off and some Canadian Geese.

On to the back lake which held a bounty of some good waterfowl, including 3 Red-necked Grebes.

IMG_3699Difficult to see at first but there are loads of tiny black dots on the lake mostly on the other side of the small island.

IMG_3700After watching them fish for a while these 2 decided to take a nap while the thrid continued to feed.

IMG_3701I had to shoot this one quick because the Grebe had it eaten really quick.


The difficulty with digiscoping is trying to focus on a moving bird and coming away with a clear picture. And if the sun is behind you then the view through the camera monitor glares back at you. So most of the pictures are out of focus.

So here we are at our first stop and we have 3 RNGR already. Is this what we are to expect today? So our next stop where one was reported was Armleder Park, which is just upstream from the Ohio River with the Little Miami River running along it’s eastern border. And bordering along it’s southern edge is Duck Creek. It’s here where Duck Creek runs into the Little Miami is where we need to set up. After twice falling on the slippery slopes we made it to our destination. Footing was difficult with all the mud, however when we looked downstream we found 3 more RNGR. This is getting crazy. Like I told Jon, “you can’t swing a cat without hitting one”.

Totally satisfied with now sighting 6 individuals we trudged through the mud back to our respective cars. So where to next? Well being close to the Ohio River this area is known for all it’s marinas  which are tucked back off the Ohio River through man-made channels. And one of the largest, 4 Seasons Marina, has this driving range next to it. But it’s not your conventional kind of driving range. This one has a lake that you hit the ball into, and they have these floating markers that show the distance. Well it’s on this driving range lake where we found yet another RNGR. This time a male showing it’s breeding plumage.


IMG_3719On these last 2 photos you can really tell how they got their name.

So after we left this marina we went just 2 marina down from us called Harbor Town Marina. We walked down to the channel and found another RNGR. This one another solo bird and it was actively feeding. Do to the distance and the position of the sun I took no photo.

So after finding 8 different birds we made our way to California Golf Course. Located on the golf course is a very large reservoir that is used by the Cincinnati Water Works. And it’s here that we find the last RNGR for the day. Another lone male bird amongst all the other water fowl that speckled the lake.

Having thought we might have missed out on this last invasion of this magnificent bird, we came away with 9 different individuals. Now this may sound like a lot, but remember they’re all over the place down here, either on our large lakes of rivers. How long will this go on? No ones guess. Just like the Snowy Owls, here one day, then gone the next.

So what’s in store for us in the Ohio valley. Well with spring knocking on the door, hopefully warblers. And you know how much we love warblers here at A Birders Notebook.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Red-winged Black Birds
  2. American Crow
  3. American Robin
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Pileated Woodpecker
  7. Downy Woodpecker
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. White-throated Sparrow
  11. White-crowned Sparrow
  12. Field Sparrow
  13. Red-shouldered Hawk
  14. Red-tailed Hawk
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Tree Swallow
  18. Canada Goose
  19. Northern Shoveler
  20. Common Merganser
  21. Red-breasted Merganser
  22. Hooded Merganser
  23. Mallard
  24. Wood Duck
  25. Common Goldeneye
  26. Pied-billed Grebe
  27. Red-necked Grebe
  28. Turkey Vulture
  29. Black Vulture
  30. Eastern Bluebird
  31. Killdeer
  32. Bufflehead
  33. Gadwall
  34. American Wigeon
  35. Ring-neck Duck
  36. American Coot
  37. Redhead
  38. Northern Mockingbird
  39. Lesser Scaup
  40. Greater Scaup
  41. Blue Jay
  42. Ring-billed Gull
  43. Herring Gull
  44. Belted Kingfisher

Notes From The Field

Newtown, Grand Valley, Valley View Nature Preserve  & Points Beyond

I wanted to cover as much ground, and hit as many hotspots today before the weekend is over. Next weekend I’m off to Michigan for a visit with my daughter and son-in-law, so I wanted to make the most of today. With the reports of a Greater White-fronted Goose still being seen near the farmers market in Newtown I thought that would be a perfect place to start.

It’s about a 30 minute drive over to Newtown and with traffic being light I was anticipating a good morning of birding. As I approached the market I could make out a small flock of Canadian Geese feeding in the open fields that border the market. The flat, bottom land which borders the Little Miami River is such prime birding habitat you forget sometimes that it’s such an industrial area, full of business and gravel quarries. And it’s these quarries that attracts these wonderful birds.

I parked onto a gravel pull off, lowered my side window and scanned the tiny flock. I really need a GWFG to help bolster my year list. And there he was.


When you see nothing but Canadian Geese year round, it’s nice to see something different. Not wanting to disturb the flock I drove around so the drivers door face away from them, so when I got out of the car I wouldn’t spook them. I crept to the back and opened up the hatch back and got out my scope and set about getting my camera hooked up for a few pictures.

IMG_2332 IMG_2330

I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but boy that’s a beautiful bird! After i left a made a few stops along the way to check out some of the other quarries for waterfowl with not too much luck. This cold snap froze over more of the water than I expected, so I made my way to Valley View Nature Preserve upon the recommendation of Jon.


Valley View is a 130 acre nature preserve and educational center. The above photo shows just a portion of the open grasslands set aside and with the riparian forest to my right this might be one of my new must go to place to bird.

Well as you can see the sun came out and the bird activity picked up. A very kettle of both Turkey and Black Vultures dot the sky. It was while I was looking up that I caught sight of a Peregrine Falcon and a Northern Harrier. I wasn’t surprised with the Harrier, however the Falcon was indeed a nice surprise. I hiked around Valley View for about and hour picking up a few species here and there, so when I was about to leave  I noticed a Northern Flicker feeding on the ground.

IMG_2337A rather difficult bird to photograph when it has it’s head buried in the ground looking for something to eat.

After leaving Valley View I made my way to Grand Valley to pick up any waterfowl left from their normal late morning exodus. There was more ice of the lake than birds so after gathering my gear I made my way for a long drive up the highway north of Wilmington to check out some of the quarries up there.

My first stop was Melvin Quarries north of Wilmington on Route 22. And just like the other quarries it was mostly frozen over with only a small patch where everyone huddles together.


And as you can see by the picture it started to cloud over and the wind picked up. And as I drove towards Wilmington the snow started to fall and visibility fell along with it. Now this is unfortunate since my next stop was going to be Caesar Creek. But with visibility down from the snow, and the wind picking up, you know the lake was going to be real choppy, nor would I see anything on the water.

Not wanting to end the day, but feeling my luck change as quick as the weather I headed home. Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  5. Northern Harrier
  6. Peregrine Falcon
  7. American Kestrel
  8. American Black Duck
  9. Mallard
  10. Ring-necked Duck
  11. American Coot
  12. Greater Scaup
  13. Ruddy Duck
  14. Gadwall
  15. Ring-billed Gull
  16. Canada Goose
  17. Greater White-fronted Goose
  18. American Crow
  19. Mourning Dove
  20. Pigeon
  21. Horned Grebe
  22. Pied-billed Grebe
  23. Pileated Woodpecker
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  26. White-breasted Nuthatch
  27. Common Grackle
  28. Tufted Titmouse
  29. Northern Cardinal
  30. Song Sparrow
  31. Savannah Sparrow
  32. American Robin
  33. Blue Jay
  34. Northern Mockingbird

January 100 Species Challenge/ 2013

Wanting to get a quick start into this challenge, I awoke early and hit the birding trail making several stops throughout the morning and early afternoon in hopes of adding to my meager list. My first stop was a lake at an RV park on the border with Indiana to get a look at the 1st year Surf Scoter. After that it was off to Smith Tract County Park, Fernald Preserve, Armleder Park, Grand Valley Preserve, then finally ending at a stretch of Fletcher Road which is on the other side of Grand Valley.

IMG_2205Despite the low light conditions and the haze hovering above the water, I was able to squeeze out this terrible picture of the 1st year Surf Scoter.

IMG_22141 of 2 Northern Pintails seen at Fernald Preserve.

IMG_2236 IMG_2235Lapland Longspurs

So the 1st list will be a continuation of the 100 Species Challenge, and the 2nd list will be the remainer of the birds seen today that are already on the 100 species list.

  • #20-Eastern Bluebird
  • #21-Horned Lark
  • #22-Lapland Longspur
  • #23-Northern Mockingbird
  • #24-Pied-billed Grebe
  • #25-Canada Goose
  • #26-Bufflehead
  • #27-Gadwall
  • #28-Mallard
  • #29-Ruddy Duck
  • #30-Cackling Goose
  • #31-Northern Pintail
  • #32-Green-winged Teal
  • #33-American Coot
  • #34-Ring-necked Duck
  • #35-Hooded Merganser
  • #36-Northern Harrier
  • #37-American Kestrel
  • #38-Red-tailed Hawk
  • #39-Red-shouldered Hawk
  • #40-Surf Scoter
  • #41-Brown Creeper
  • #42-Cedar Waxwing
  • #43-White-crowned Sparrow
  • #44-White-throated Sparrow
  • #45-Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • #46-Belted Kingfisher
  • #47-Eastern Towhee
  • #48-Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • #49-Red Head
  • #50-Rock Pigeon
  • #51-American Robin
  • #52-Mute Swan
  • #53-Great Blue Heron
  • #54-American Crow
  • #55-Ring-billed Gull
  1. Dark-eyed Junco
  2. Mourning Dove
  3. European Starling
  4. Carolina Wren
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Northern Cardinal
  7. Tufted titmouse
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Northern Flicker
  10. Downy Woodpecker
  11. Blue Jay
  12. Song Sparrow

Now it starts to get tough!

Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek State Park

A fine mist fell from the sky as gray clouds were in sharp contract to the beautiful Autumn colors around Caesar Creek today. The original plan for the day was for Jon and myself to travel in Findlay Reservoir in hopes that the Prairie Falcon was still there. However as the week wore on the sightings dried up and we opted not to make the trip and conserve some gas. So a day spent traveling from one spot to another sounds like a great idea.

The Visitor’s Center was to be the place where we meet and venture out from. Pulling into the parking lot you couldn’t help but notice the small tents springing up.

It turns out that Caesar Creek was hosting some exhibits open to the public that dealt with water and boat safety, fishing, hunting, and water and soil conservation, as well as others. After Jon showed up we birded this location for a while since they normally stock their feeders around the back of the Visitor’s Center. We noticed a small flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding on all these clusters of black berries, so I attempted to get a few pictures.

As we made our way to the beach area and started to scan over the lake we couldn’t help but notice the lack of any water fowl. Not one duck or goose was seen, which I find very unusual. Except for a few Double-crested Cormorants and Ring-billed Gulls there was nothing on the lake except for the omnipresent fishermen. Granted it might be a bit early for the big influx of ducks, however jon did say the he had seen some Gadwall and American Wigeon over at Grand Valley.

The rain finally quit and peeks of Sun started to shine through the fast moving clouds as the wind picked up and the ever familiar chop on the lake increased. With the lack of water fowl we changed tactics and worked on Sparrows and other Passerines. Both Turkey and Black Vultures were seen in large quantities while they soared on the strong winds. A mature Bald Eagle was picked out from a large kettle of Vultures, and one time Jon noticed a medium size Falcon. We both our bins on it as it started to dive and went out of sight after several seconds. Too small for a Peregrine, and too big for a Kestrel. Logical choice, Merlin. A very nice bird by anyone’s standards.

One of our target birds for the day were Red-breasted Nuthatches. Numbers are supposed to be up this year for this colder weather visitor from the north, and one of the best spots (in my opinion) to spot these smaller cousins of White-breasted Nuthatches was over at the Nature Center. As you enter the drive back to this rustic building you pass under tall conifers on both sides laden with loads of cones. This high concentration of trees that “Red Nuts” love payed off with at least 3 seen. I will be re-visiting this same area throughout the winter in hopes of finding Crossbills, along with other Winter Finches which are to be in great quantities this year.

The state has set aside an area close to the Visitor’s Center as a nature preserve. A very large area of tall grass and a few ponds. Perfect place for Sparrows. Mowed paths lead us into the heart of this grass meadow and several species of Sparrows. Field, Swamp, Song, and White-crowned Sparrows flitting through the tall grass can infuriate even the best birder as we tried to spot these grass loving birds. This was the first time Jon had been to this part of the park and was impressed, so we spent a good amount of time here.

As the morning turned into afternoon, before we knew it, it was time to pack it in and head for home. We drove back to the Visitor’s center where Jon had parked his car as we parted ways. It was probably a good time to end the day since my knee was starting to hurt as my morning dose of Advil wore off. However not satisfied with the lake being totally devoid of ducks and geese I made a quick stop at my favorite Caesar Creek hotspot, Harveysburg Road. Despite the lovely drive to this spot, once again I came up empty on any waterfowl.

Autumn colors along Harveysburg Road

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Red-winged Blackbird
  2. Common Crow
  3. White-breasted Nuthatch
  4. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Tufted Titmouse
  7. American Goldfinch
  8. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  10. Downy Woodpecker
  11. Northern Flicker
  12. Double-crested Cormorant
  13. Ring-billed Gull
  14. Herring Gull
  15. Turkey Vulture
  16. Black Vulture
  17. Red-shouldered Hawk
  18. Red-tailed Hawk
  19. Merlin
  20. Bald Eagle
  21. Blue Jay
  22. Swamp Sparrow
  23. Field Sparrow
  24. White-throated Sparrow
  25. White-crowned Sparrow
  26. Song Sparrow
  27. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  28. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  29. Northern Cardinal
  30. Cedar Waxwing
  31. EasternTowhee
  32. Carolina Wren
  33. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  34. Palm warbler
  35. Eastern Bluebird
  36. Belted Kingfisher
  37. American Robin
  38. Dark-eyed Junco
  39. eastern Phoebe
  40. European Starling

Rare Bird Alert


For those with access to Grand Valley Preserve over at Camp Dennison, there has been as many as 3, and today only one Short-billed Dowitcher present. This is pretty late for this species, so if you go and don’t have access, take your spotting scope or your chances will be pretty slim in relocating this bird.