Tag Archives: Smith Tract County Park

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
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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

Notes From The Field

Grassland Series

After dipping on the Willets and Marbled Godwit at East Fork S.P. this morning I made the decision to make the big loop around the city and visit my go-to spot for another of our summer grassland birds. The Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) 

Not nearly as reclusive as the Henslow’s Sparrow, however they aren’t a sure thing when visiting any grassland in this area. With a very high pitched, insect buzz of a call this might be the only way to locate these small brown birds. But the good thing is when you do hear them call it’s a good indication that they’re tied up on something.

IMG_2794This is Smith Tract County Park. A undeveloped piece of property that is so ideal for grassland birds during the summer.

Today was a digiscoping day and I was determined to capture a Grasshopper Sparrow so I could continue this series of posts. However there is one bird I neglected to mention. During the summer you can find them pretty much anywhere, however they do prefer brushy open fields.

IMG_2819Indigo Bunting belting out a tune.

One nice thing about Smith Tract is the low number of Red-winged Blackbirds. It’s not like there were none. It’s nice not having to pick out bird calls over the noise they can make when there are multiple numbers of these noisy birds.

Probably the loudest birds there today were the Dickcissels.

IMG_2823

As I made my way down the hill towards the flat section of the park there was an area that was holding a lot of water from the rain yesterday. Before I walked around this wet area I scanned the tops of the vegetation. Grasshopper Sparrows were beginning to sing and I wanted to be patient with these spooky birds.

IMG_2799There he was. He was a good distance from me, and this was the best picture I could get. I wanted to circle the wet area and get a closer shot, but…he flew off!

I continued on another 100 yards and kept hearing multiple birds calling on both sides of me. Not sure which direction to go I just stayed put this time. Then I found another one off to my right. Not wanting to blow this opportunity I moved real slow towards this silent bird.

IMG_2816With a beak full of something green this Grasshopper was very cooperative. I would take a few pictures, creep forward a few yards and stop to take more pictures. This was my best from the lot I took.

Satisfied with today’s find and photographs I made my way back to the car, but not after getting a shot of an Eastern Meadowlark next to the parking lot.

IMG_2833Another bird with a beak full of something.

As the dog days of Summer wear on in the Ohio Valley hopefully I’ll be able to continue with this series on grassland/ wetland birds. Only if it quits raining long enough to get out.

Notes From The Field

Bellevue Bottoms, Boone County Cliffs, The Oxbow, Lost Bridge, Smith Tract County Park

It was an early morning risin’ as I set off from my local UDF with coffee in hand towards Jon’s house. Today’s destination is our yearly trip to Boone County Cliffs, which is the biggest 78 acre park I’ve ever visited. But first we’re passing the turn off to the “cliffs” and heading towards a couple of dead end roads which recently has had some good bird reports. Especially Henslow Sparrows and Northern Bobwhites. We’re traveling to an area of Boone County Kentucky that is called Bellevue Bottoms. With it’s close proximity to the Ohio River and Aurora Indiana this part of the tri-state is new to me and has so much potential for some good birding in the future.

I’m assuming at one time these 2 roads (Horsley Ferry and Aurora Ferry Roads) had serviceable ferries that crossed the river, and being dead end there wasn’t too much traffic and walking on the road wasn’t an issue. Northern Bobwhite, Bank Swallow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orioles, Eastern Kingbird, and Vireos were some of the more numerous species seen. After leaving this beautiful rural setting it was off to Boone County Cliffs.

As we turned onto Middleboro Road we are greeted with a singing Eastern Phoebe perched on a bridge post. And as was the case for the day no camera within reach. So I opted to leave it behind today and just focus on the birds. Sometimes when I go birding I focus too much on getting a decent picture of the bird than concentrating on what’s important, the actual bird. Then when I’m scrambling to retrieve my camera from it’s case, the bird is gone.

Boone County Cliffs is without a doubt in my top 5 places to visit within my 50 mile radius of home. Great hiking trail that winds on for 2 miles deep in some beautiful deciduous woods. A great variety of birds await anyone who visits this gem. However today the target birds are Kentucky and Worm-eating Warblers. Worm-eating warblers especially habitat specific and Boone County Cliffs are noted for multiple nesting “Wormies”. Since I starting visiting here I’ve not missed on this bird, it’s that reliable. With just a good set of ears and some patience anyone can either see of hear them. There call is a high pitched thrill that’s difficult to pick up at first if you’re not used to hearing it. Which was the case this morning. Jon was hearing one in the distance, but I couldn’t pick it up till I heard one close and got “tuned in”.

We were greeted with over active Louisiana Waterthrush’s as multiple birds chased each other around in the area of a small stream that cascades down towards the road we came in on. A thick canopy and under growth close in on both sides of the trail as we started to climb towards the area of the cliffs. Vireos, Flycatchers, Orioles, Tanagers, and my most favorite bird song, the Wood Thrush were everywhere.

This 2 mile trail finally reached it’s highest point, then started to level out with a gently rolling path that followed the contour of the ridge top. We’d pause and listen if a bird peaked our interest, or if a sudden movement caught our eye. As we made our way deeper into the woods we started to hear Wormies a little closer and had a great look of an Ovenbird. The one thing about Ovenbirds and Kentucky warblers is that their calls are very similar. And after we really listened, at both a Kentucky Warbler and an Ovenbird we finally were able to tell the difference when we heard more sing later on.

THEN OUR SOLITUDE WAS BROKEN BY GUN FIRE!

We had heard voices behind us for some time, but being a pretty popular place to go birding we never gave it much thought as this group of people were several hundred yards behind us the whole time. We didn’t know if they were birders or not, but there loud talking made us think they were just hiking. That was until one of the idiots discharged their gun, which in turned scared the shit out of the both of us. Jon then yells back at them that we’re up here and not to shoot their gun again. We reported the incident to the police and made a hasty retreat to our car, not wanting to run into some pissed off locals with a loaded gun. A very disturbing end to a great birding outing.

We took the long way home with stops at the Oxbow were a group of Great Egrets yielded one Snowy Egret, and a couple Prothonotary Warblers. After leaving the Oxbow we made our way to Smith tract County Park. In the past a good spot for Bell’s Vireo and Lark Sparrows. However the area where they’re usually sen has been taken over by a company that is using the area for a huge pipe line project. I real bummer. But on a bright note we did get some good looks as a Grasshopper Sparrow as it sang from the top of some weed.

And since it was an early day we called it over after leaving Smith Tract. Despite the disturbing end to our visit at “The Cliffs”, it was a great day of birding.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. American Kestrel
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Dickcissel
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Common Yellowthroat
  7. Yellow-throated Warbler
  8. Cerulean Warbler
  9. Hooded warbler
  10. Worm-eating Warbler
  11. Kentucky Warbler
  12. Louisiana Waterthrush
  13. Northern Parula
  14. Yellow-breasted Chat
  15. Field Sparrow
  16. Chipping Sparrow
  17. House Sparrow
  18. Grasshopper Sparrow
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. Cedar Waxwing
  21. Gray Catbird
  22. Red-winged Blackbird
  23. Common grackle
  24. Common Crow
  25. Northern Cardinal
  26. Tufted Titmouse
  27. Carolina Chickadee
  28. Carolina Wren
  29. House Wren
  30. Indigo Bunting
  31. Baltimore Oriole
  32. Orchard Oriole
  33. Brown Thrasher
  34. Northern Mockingbird
  35. Mourning Dove
  36. Northern Bobwhite
  37. American goldfinch
  38. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  39. Great-creasted Flycatcher
  40. Willow flycatcher
  41. Acadian Flycatcher
  42. Eastern Kingbird
  43. Downy Woodpecker
  44. Hairy Woodpecker
  45. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  46. Pileated Woodpecker
  47. Great Blue Heron
  48. Green Heron
  49. Great Egret
  50. Snowy Egret
  51. Canada Goose
  52. Mallard
  53. Purple Martin
  54. Tree Swallow
  55. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  56. Bank Swallow
  57. Cliff Swallow
  58. Barn Swallow
  59. Red-eyed Vireo
  60. White-eyed Vireo
  61. Warbling Vireo
  62. Chimney Swift
  63. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  64. Double-creasted Cormorant
  65. Blue jay
  66. Wood Thrush
  67. American Robin
  68. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  69. Scarlet Tanager
  70. Belted Kingfisher
  71. Spotted Sandpiper
  72. Common Loon
  73. White-breasted Nuthatch

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

Lost Bridge and Smith Tract County Park

I had the morning to myself, which hung to you like a damp shirt just out of the washing machine. Gray overcast skies with a threat of rain wasn’t going to deter me from getting in some birding this Sunday.

Yesterday a report came in that some pretty good early Fall migration shorebirds were foraging under Lost Bridge on the Great Miami River. This spot can be particularly hot, especially during migration. Migration you say! Yes, Fall migration. It seems we’re starting to see a trickle of what will become a great Autumn. I was reading Jen Brumfield’s blog, NorthNW, and it’s looks like shorebirds are start to stack up in numbers along the Lake Erie coast, and sooner or later they’ll come our way.

I arrived at 8:30 as another couple were already scoping out the action. After everyone introduced themselves it was time to get down to business. Using binoculars was futile as I tried to pick up all the small Sandpipers feeding amongst the rocky edges. As I settled behind my spotting scope then the birds finally came into focus. Trying to pick out a 6″ bird from any distance can be a challenge, however today was a little difficult since it was overcast and the birds blended in so well into the surroundings. Solitary, Least, Semipalmated, Spotted, and one lone Western Sandpiper were some of the highlights as I scanned the area over and over again in hopes that I didn’t miss anything.

Belted Kingfisher

After 90 minutes I decided to pack it in and head for home. However when I started to drive away I thought why not stop off at Smith tract for a quick look. It’s been a few months since I was last there, and I also wanted to see if the resident Common Loons were still there.

This place has some wonderful habitat and it started out pretty quick as soon as I got there. A Bell’s Vireo was singing and I actually got a brief view of this reclusive bird. I also got to get a few pictures of a very cooperative Blue Grosbeak. It’s too bad that it was behind a branch and hiding it’s beautiful coloration.

Blue Grosbeak

And yes the Loons were there. We normally don’t see Common Loons around these parts till the Autumn and Winter, not July. But there they were, a lovely couple.

Common Loons

Disappointing was the lack of any Dickcissels. Normally quite plentiful in this area, I never heard a one. However one bird that were in good numbers were Grasshopper Sparrows. I was only able to get one good picture as it perched on top of a branch and sing.

Grasshopper Sparrow

It was a much needed break from the stresses of work and other issues that seem to fill our lives. Even though I was only out for a few hours I came home with a nice list for the day.

As for my trip this weekend to Mississippi. I’m going to slip my bins into my carry-on in hopes that I might catch a few hours of birding early Saturday morning, but I’m not counting on it.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Killdeer
  2. Great Blue Heron
  3. Green Heron
  4. Common Crow
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Osprey
  7. Cooper’s Hawk
  8. Mourning Dove
  9. Northern Cardinal
  10. Prairie Warbler
  11. Yellow Warbler
  12. Barn Swallow
  13. Bank Swallow
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. Mallard
  16. Least Sandpiper
  17. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  18. Western Sandpiper
  19. Solitary Sandpiper
  20. Spotted Sandpiper
  21. Short-billed Dowitcher
  22. Lesser Yellowleg
  23. Belted Kingfisher
  24. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  25. Common Loon
  26. Bell’s Vireo
  27. Field Sparrow
  28. Song Sparrow
  29. Grasshopper Sparrow
  30. Blue Grosbeak
  31. Eastern Meadowlark
  32. Indigo Bunting
  33. Northern Mockingbird
  34. Orchard Oriole
  35. Willow Flycatcher
  36. American Goldfinch