Tag Archives: Lost Bridge

Notes From The Field

Shawnee Lookout Forest and the Oxbow

There were frost warnings out for the Tri-state area as I made my way over to pick up Jon for some very early migrant birding. Both Shawnee Lookout and the Oxbow can be particularly good, so with the rising sun low on the horizon we set off in a westerly direction.

Shawnee Lookout was practically empty as we set off on a couple of trails, always listening and watching. As we walked we chatted about which early migrant might make an appearance today. One at the top of the list was the Hermit Thrush. The reclusive skulker of the undergrowth is usually heard before it’s seen.

So it came as no surprise that one of the birds we stumbled across, right next to the trail was a Hermit Thrush eating a worm.

IMG_4388If you look real close you can see the worm on the ground.

Yellow-rumped warblers were the dominate, and only warbler species seen at Shawnee Lookout. In a couple of weeks this place will be crawling with migrating warblers, but this day wasn’t meant to be. However the male Butter-butts were all dressed in their best breeding plumage, and really it’s only a matter of time before more show up.

So as we were leaving Shawnee Lookout a question arises. We all know what happens when the chicken crosses the road, but what about the Wild Turkey?

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After a short stop at Lost Bridge to count the Pectoral Sandpipers and a couple American Pipits, we arrived at the Oxbow. And quite honestly I don’t know what impressed us the most, the sheer number of Double-creasted Cormorants (we estimated about 250) or the Bald Eagles, ( which we counted 18 of them).

IMG_4415This immature Bald Eagle landed real close to Jon and me with a fish, and proceeded to eat it. I tried to sneak up it and get a better photo, but he didn’t that too much and promptly left.

IMG_4435Nothing quite as pretty as a Bald Eagle against a blue sky.

At one time as we approached a line of trees that separates two fields we counted 12 individual Bald Eagles. It was quite a sight, but considering the distance a photo wouldn’t have done justice. However the bird of the day was yet to come.

As we continued driving along the dirt road that cuts through the Oxbow we notice small brown birds foraging along the edge. And one had white edges on the tail. I quickly pull over as we get our bins on the bird. Vesper Sparrow. Very good bird, especially for this part of Ohio.

Now you might be saying to yourself that this is a pretty common bird where I live, but in southern Ohio we have maybe a 2 week window where Vesper Sparrows can be seen before they move North. And this one cooperated.

IMG_4432That’s the thing with Jon and me, we love Sparrows, and for us this was a great bird.

We made one more stop in Lawrenceburg Indiana where we walked a bike trail hoping to pick up the same birds we saw there during the Christmas Bird Count.

It was a good day. Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Bald Eagle
  4. Red-tailed Hawk
  5. American Kestrel
  6. Wood Duck
  7. Mallard
  8. Northern Shoveler
  9. Blue-winged Teal
  10. American Coot
  11. Pied-billed Grebe
  12. Hooded Merganser
  13. Great Blue Heron
  14. Great Egret
  15. Double-creasted Cormorant
  16. Wild Turkey
  17. Mourning Dove
  18. Pileated Woodpecker
  19. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  20. Hairy Woodpecker
  21. Downy Woodpecker
  22. Northern Flicker
  23. Blue Jay
  24. Eastern Phoebe
  25. American Crow
  26. Tufted Titmouse
  27. Northern Cardinal
  28. Carolina Chickadee
  29. Carolina Wren
  30. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  31. Yellow-throated Warbler
  32. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  33. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  34. White-breasted Nuthatch
  35. Hermit Thrush
  36. American Robin
  37. Brown-headed Cowbird
  38. European Starling
  39. Common Grackle
  40. Red-winged Blackbird
  41. Eastern Towhee
  42. White-crowned Sparrow
  43. White-throated Sparrow
  44. Song Sparrow
  45. Vesper Sparow
  46. Field Sparrow
  47. Chipping Sparrow
  48. House Finch
  49. American Goldfinch
  50. Canada Goose
  51. American Pipit
  52. Pectoral Sandpiper
  53. Killdeer
  54. Ring-billed Gull
  55. Bonaparte’s Gull
  56. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  57. Tree Swallow
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Rare Bird Alert

415px-66_Ivory-billed_Woodpecker

Brian Wulker reported a lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the rear pond prior to Lost Bridge. Wilderness Road in Stark has been host to loads of these birds the past several days and it seems it’s our turn for a few of these beautiful birds here in the southwest corner of the state.

Notes From The Field

I’ve neglected my blog lately…and I’m blaming work. Have you ever had one of those weeks where you come home after a super busy day at work and feel like just vegging out for the evening and go to bed early. That was me this week. And despite having a wonderful day birding with Jon last Saturday, I just couldn’t find the energy to sit down and write a blog post. Sorry everyone.

Like I said last Saturday Jon and myself hit the woods hard looking for migrants at some of our local hot spots. Shawnee Lookout Park, Lost Bridge, The Oxbow, Smith Tract, and Armleder Park.  It was a beautiful day and the birds on a whole were plentiful in some areas, however in others it wasn’t. Trying to find where the wading birds are can be a challenge, and last Saturday was no different as we tried several spots where we’ve seen them before, only to strike out every time.

Warblers were plentiful and as always another challenge for myself trying to get any kind of serviceable photograph. Our day list was pretty good, so instead of boring you with week old birding news I’ll just skip to the list of birds intermixed with some photos. You see I need to keep this blog post short because I still have to get ready for when I go to my favorite birding hotspot tomorrow, Boone County Cliffs.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Ring-billed Gull
  3. Double-creasted Cormorant
  4. Bonaparte’s Gull
  5. Cooper’s Hawk
  6. Red-shouldered Hawk
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. American Kestrel
  9. Killdeer
  10. Blue-winged Teal
  11. Mallard
  12. Northern Mockingbird
  13. American Robin
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Canada Geese
  17. Tree Swallow
  18. Chimney Swift
  19. Barn Swallow
  20. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  21. Northern Cardinal
  22. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  23. Tufted Titmouose
  24. Carolina Chickadee
  25. Carolina Wren
  26. House Wren
  27. IMG_2402Wild Turkey
  28. Wood Thrush
  29. Northern Parula
  30. Eastern Towhee
  31. Eastern Goldfinch
  32. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  33. Pileated Woodpecker
  34. Hairy Woodpecker
  35. Northern Flicker
  36. Prothonotary Warbler
  37. Green Heron
  38. Great Blue Heron
  39. Song Sparrow
  40. White-throated Sparrow
  41. Wood Duck
  42. Yellow-throated Warbler
  43. Chipping Sparrow
  44. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  45. Eastern Phoebe
  46. IMG_2405Blue-winged Warbler
  47. White-eyed Vireo
  48. Warbling Vireo
  49. Red-eyed Vireo
  50. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  51. Brown-headed Cowbird
  52. European Starling
  53. Red-winged Blackbird
  54. American Crow
  55. Yellow-throated Vireo
  56. IMG_2422Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  57. White-breasted Nuthatch
  58. Black-throated Green Warbler
  59. Field Sparrow
  60. Orchard Oriole
  61. Baltimore Oriole
  62. Common Yellowthroat
  63. Indigo Bunting
  64. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  65. Turkey Vulture
  66. Black Vulture
  67. Common Grackle
  68. IMG_2433Cerulean Warbler
  69. Blue Jay
  70. Louisiana Waterthrush
  71. Prairie Warbler
  72. American Redstart
  73. Osprey
  74. Hermit Thrush
  75. Northern Shoveler
  76. American Coot
  77. Eastern Meadowlark
  78. Wilson’s Snipe
  79. Yellow Warbler
  80. IMG_2442Eastern Kingbird

July 100 Species Challenge/ The End

Tomorrow is the 31st of July and unless there is some divine intervention, my final count will stand at 106 bird species. And what’s kind of frustrating is first my late start for this whole July challenge, and secondly is that are so many birds that I could have sighted that I didn’t.

Let’s take this last Sunday. Despite the forecast of rain on and off for the whole day I still felt the need to drive to some of my favorite hot spots so I could tick off a few more birds. So it was back out onto the highway to the west side of town., particularly Lost Bridge, and Shawnee Lookout Park. Lost Bridge for early migrating shore birds and Cliff Swallows, and Shawnee Lookout for a few more warbler species that summer over in this park. Such as Cerulean, Kentucky, Redstart, Prairie, Blue-winged, and Ovenbird.

Other than picking up Cliff Swallow at Lost Bridge it was a total bust, especially with the rain picking up. You see I neglected to grab my rain jacket when I left so I really didn’t want to be soaked this early in the day with Shawnee Lookout still ahead.

Shawnee wasn’t much better. There were plenty of birds, just not some of the ones I was really depending on. I was wanting to get an early start to the day when my chances were a bit better, but hitting it in the afternoon they weren’t singing as much as I would have liked.

IMG_0942One of the few cooperative birds was this male Eastern Towhee

IMG_0939Female American Redstart

So now after completing 2 different month long challenges so far this year I have to admit that this one was the easiest. The opportunities to pick up so many more bird species may seem smaller than in the spring, however I really could have added 10 to 12 more with an earlier start in the month. January is by far the most difficult after you count up all the duck species that is found around here. After that you don’t have to many birds that you can count on being there. Plus the weather can keep the most intrepid birder at home. I’ll never forget my trip to Dayton to tick off the Glaucous Gull when the wind chill was well below zero. The wind chill in July is measured by the AC hitting you in the face when you walk into the neighborhood mini-mart for something to cold drink.

Bird watching challenges like this keep the hobby fun and exciting. Instead of just going out into the field, you have to re-focus on what species you’re searching for and the habitat where you’ll find them. It sharpens your skill even if you’ve seen the bird hundreds of times before. And with January just 6 short months away it helps you prepare for the cold weather challenge.

So the end is now and with the addition of:

  • Cliff Swallow
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • American Redstart

my total is 106. So remember to challenge yourself every now and then. It does make you feel better about yourself no matter what you attempt.

 

 

Notes From The Field

Aurora Indiana, Oxbow, Lost Bridge

Following up on my own “Rare Bird Alert” concerning the Swallow-tailed Kite that has been seen almost every day since it was first reported was my objective today. From all reports the bird will perch and preen in the morning, and then take to the wing and go about  hunting for food. However time was of the essence as my youngest son turns 21 today and my daughter is in town for the weekend. So I picked up Jon at 6:30 am for the long drive. Which didn’t turn out a bad as I had originally thought. After you get to Lawrenceburg Indiana it’s just a few more miles on the other side. And since it seems like I live in this part of Ohio/Indiana for most of my birding days it was actually a nice drive.

From all the reports we’ve heard about the bird is that the morning is best to catch it while it perches in this dead tree, or catch it as it flies around this quiet, hilltop neighborhood. Some of the views of the surrounding countryside with it’s close proximity to the river and the valley below explains why the kite would love it here. Plenty of food and thermals to ride as they flowed up the sides of the surrounding hills that border the river.

Being a residential neighborhood we had to drive real slow along all the various roads that crisscrossed the area of a few hundred homes. We were both scanning the sky, but paying more attention to the trees for the sign of a semi-large bird. We passed the large dead tree that I thought was the one it’s been seen before perched, but no bird. We soldered on. The road forked and dead ended. Another road came in from a different direction that we took, that eventually brought us back to our original location. As we passed the dead tree again, but now from the opposite direction, I saw it.

Slowing the car down to a dead stop, Jon and myself craned our necks with our bins to our eyes to confirm the bird. We were real close to the bird. The tree was no more than 20 feet for the side of the road and we didn’t want to spook the bird as we got out of the car. So I inched forward so Jon could get out slowly, and I turned the car around and drove it down the road to pull off the side, so not spook the bird as I opened the hatch to retrieve my scope and camera.

The other 2 occasi0ons I’ve seen these birds they were in flight and it can be rather difficult to digiscope a bird in flight. So to catch one perched is a real treat. Enjoy!

IMG_2927 IMG_2919 As the sun was rising this was the best side to capture the bird with the sun in the best position. However as you can see this branch was covering part of it’s head. I couldn’t move to another location since it was on someones property and also we would have to get closer, which would have made the bird spook. So I stayed put and tried for some better shots as the Kite moved.

IMG_2933

IMG_2945In this picture you can see how it’s been preening it’s breast feathers. He’s all fluffed up like a down pillow.

IMG_2951You have to admit that it is one beautiful bird. The kind of bird you’d want to come back reincarnated as.

IMG_2966As you can imagine I took quite a few pictures. And as much as I would like to bring them to you I feel these are the best. As the time wore on Jon and myself decided to leave. And since we were going to drive past the Oxbow, why not drive through for a quick look.

The Oxbow was full of the regular birds, and Oxbow Lake’s mudflat at the far end proved rather difficult to bush whack through the weeds and poison ivy to get to.

We faired better at Lost Bridge as small flocks of “Peeps” kept us busy for an hour or so. If I didn’t have other things to do today we would have stayed longer as hopes of more shorebirds coming in to feed was a good possibility. We left around lunch time.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Orchard Oriole
  2. Indigo Bunting
  3. Song Sparrow
  4. Turkey Vulture
  5. Double-creasted Cormorant
  6. Great Egret
  7. Great Blue Heron
  8. Wood Duck
  9. Green Heron
  10. Semipalmated sandpiper
  11. Least Sandpiper
  12. Spotted Sandpipper
  13. Lesser Yellowleg
  14. Pectoral Sandpiper
  15. Osprey
  16. Red-tailed hawk
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. Northern Flicker
  19. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  20. Northern Cardinal
  21. SWALLOW-TAILED KITE
  22. Horned Larks
  23. Cliff Swallow
  24. American Crow

 

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.

IMG_2911

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.

IMG_2915

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.

IMG_2917

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