Tag Archives: Lake Isabella

Parula americana…

or better known as the Northern Parula are some of the early migrating Wood Warblers that arrive in the Ohio Valley in early Spring. With their high pitched trill with that distinct “hic-cup” at the end, these warblers are our tree top feeders. Normally just hearing them, we’ll have to crane our necks to get decent views as they search for food in the uppermost foliage. But every once in a while they come down to earth an provide some excellent photo-ops.

Such was the case this last friday as I drove the few miles to one of Hamilton County’s smaller parks, Lake Isabella. With it’s 28 acre lake, fishing is the main attraction for this park.  Bordering the Little Miami River it also offers the normal playground equipment with plenty of shaded picnic areas for families. Living within close proximity, I do frequent this park but normally for water fowl during fall and winter months. But I’m here today because of rumors floating around about a Northern Parula that’s been putting on quite a show.

Since the park borders the Little Miami River it has canoe access area with an adjacent parking lot. Well this particular Northern Parula doesn’t seem to like competition from other Northern Parulas, especially reflections of other Northern Parulas in car rear view mirrors.

IMG_2329I think we’ve all seen birds attacking it’s own reflection before, however I’ve not seen any warbler species do this. Here it is perched on top of the side mirror of a mini-van after pecking at itself in the mirror.

IMG_2373Yes, images do appear larger in this mirror.

Needless to say I did get some splendid shots as I tried to get the best angle with the setting sun. The Parula seemed oblivious to people as it kept returning to the same mirror.



IMG_2353Sometimes it would land in a nearby bush to offer a more natural setting.


IMG_2355Or it would land on the car antenna.

In a way I felt sorry of the bird. It was a very territorial bird, and this reflection was really bothering the bird. Now if there were no cars in the area everything would be normal, but being a pretty popular park I feel that this might be an issue all spring. So if I do return I’m just going to have to park a little further away an walk to the area.

You just have to love these Wood Warblers.

Notes From The Field

Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella, part of the Hamilton County Park District is noted more for it’s 28 acre fishing lake than attracting great waterfowl. Being one of the parks in the whole parks system, Lake Isabella is tucked right up to the Little Miami River on one side, and I-275 on the other, and a busy road as frontage. Even before the county took control of the park it was always a pay lake as far as I can remember. My older brother and I used to drive out to go fishing when we were teenagers. It was always an adventure to drive there since the interstate system wasn’t completed yet to this part of Hamilton County.

Now it’s just a short 20 minute drive, which I try to do on a regular basis, especially during the winter. It’s always a good spot to pick up nesting Great Horned Owls, and even some good waterfowl, since there is usually some open water at the lake. Which leads us to the polar vortex.

A recent article on the ABA Blog reveals why certain species are in such abundance this far south. As you probably are well aware of this winter has been especially colder than previous years. And with this comes the freezing over of the Great Lakes. Species which over-winter on these lakes such as the White-winged Scoter and Red-necked Grebe are traveling southward for more open water. So for us in the southern part of the state we are rewarded with more than our fair share of White-winged Scoters.

Every year we have several sightings of the larger of the 3 Scoter species, however this year has been especially good. If you remember there have been several seen on the Ohio River, which helped me make my 100 January species list. Now there is reports of 3 on lake Isabella. So yesterday afternoon after I got off work I made the short drive to see for myself. An afternoon confirmation of them still being there was all I needed to get me going.

The Scoters have been there for several days prior and after some photographic scrutiny it was confirmed that what we had were 2 1st winter male Scoters and 1 adult male.

IMG_3612What I like about this photo is how it shows off the tell-tale “white wing”. Often times this can be concealed and it’s not till either the bird dives or flies away that you see it.

IMG_3636This is the same Scoter as the above picture.

IMG_3666This is the 2nd juvenile male. The coloration and markings are a bit different than the previous pictures.

IMG_3653And this spectacular adult male Scoter is so stunning it almost takes your breath away when you first look upon it at such close range.


Well as of right now they do seem to be the most photographed birds in the Tri-state area now. Normally we only get to see them from afar, but for the past few days they have been offering such great views that all the photographers are taking advantage of these super conditions. Scoters are such a great species to watch I will hate to see them leave.

Notes From The Field

Lake Isabella Park

A Great Horned Owl has taken over the nesting can at Lake Isabella, and today was the day that I’m going to get it’s picture. Lake Isabella is a Hamilton County Park situated along the Little Miami River. It’s a rather small park at only 77 acres, but it’s claim to fame is it’s 28 acre pay lake. I remember as a boy my brother and I drove out there from Pleasant Ridge and it was an all day adventure. Back then I-275 didn’t exist.

As I pulled up a noticed a women getting back into her car after checking out the Owl, and sure enough it was there.

As you can tell the only part we’re going to be allowed to view is it’s head.

After taking a few pictures I drove over to the lake to see if anything was swimming around. And lo and behold there was a small group of Hooded Mergansers. So for the next half and hour I took some pictures of the Mergansers till it got too dark.

Some of the girlfriends.

It’s small breaks like this after a day at work that pays off in the long run. Getting outdoors and breathing some fresh air and viewing the wilds things.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Great Horned Owl
  2. Pied-billed Grebe
  3. Mallard
  4. Hooded merganser
  5. Belted Kingfisher
  6. Canada Goose