Winton Woods Settling Pond & Par Course
According to my calculations I’ve not been birding since the 22nd, so I was long over due for a Saturday morning field trip, and this day took me to Winton Woods Park. This 2,555 acre urban park in the middle of Greenhills has some very good birding going for it, if you know where to go. You have to get off the beaten path and avoid the main section, away from the crowds to really find some very nice and secluded sections. Even though this is a city park of substantial size, you get the feeling of being far and away from the maddening crowd. You’re brought back to reality when you’re straining to pick up that bird song over the traffic that’s right on the other side of the tree line.
Despite the pros and cons, I had a great time in spite of the gray gloom that has enveloped the tri-state for days. Since David decided to sleep in this morning I went solo, and made my way over to the settling pond first thing. There wasn’t too much waterfowl activity here, so I thought I would try the new camera out on some ducks. I really need to practice with this one. I took several pictures and was unhappy with all of them except one, which was still crap.
Ring-necked Ducks & American Coots
I’m still having trouble with focusing as you can probably see by now. It’s not that the camera isn’t able to auto-focus, it can. It’s me and my inability to focus my own eyesight and get a crisp image on the LCD screen.
I left the settling pond after 30 minutes and drove over to a part of the park where they have a Frisbee golf course and the par course, and today despite the weather there were pretty many people there. Frisbee golfers, joggers, and birders, so even with this part of the park being separate from the main part, it was crowded.
Leaving the soccer and baseball fields behind, I stepped into a marvelous mix of hardwood and evergreen trees that towered high above. Like any other par course I’ve seen, there are stations set up around a circuit with various exercises to be done at each station. The path is wide with gravel and decaying leaves so your steps are muffled as you walk. Except for the chatter of Carolina Chickadees overhead, it was a quiet place. I proceeded to follow the trail to my favorite place, a large group of tall pine trees. The path is level for several hundred feet then drops down to a small stream that flows into the lake. As you walk up and out of this run off area, the trail splits into 3 different paths to take. With no Scarecrow to point the way, it’s a good thing I’ve been here before and know the way to the “pines”, as local birders call this part.
50 to 60 foot pine trees are scattered throughout this part of the par course, and home to some good birds such as Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and hopefully Crossbills. The quiet under this cathedral of conifers was very surreal. No birds! Well almost no birds. There were a few but I was disappointed in the total lack of any of my target birds. Not even a RBNU. I’d walk 20 yards and stop and listen and look for several minutes, then repeat till I covered the “pines” twice. The morning was waning into the afternoon, so now was the time to go back. Skirting an area which I believe is a campground that can be reserved, I noticed a large main building, shelter house, cabins and a Coyote which ran across my path without giving me a second glance.
I was once again walking across the large fields they use for soccer and baseball, looking into the woods along the edge trying to spot any kind of bird activity when I noticed a Cooper’s Hawk just sitting there on a branch.
I took several pictures and this one was the best. All the others either were out of focus (imagine that) or it’s head was turned.
Pleased with the Cooper’s Hawk, I made my way back to the bird-mobile and loaded my gear inside for the drive home. Exiting the park, and readying myself for the turn on the main road, I noticed in the field that opened up in front of me several telephone poles. And on 2 of these poles were Red-tailed Hawks waiting for their prey.
Not too bad of an effort if I do say so myself.
Notable birds for the day include:
- Canada Goose
- Ring-necked Duck
- American Coot
- Song Sparrow
- Fox Sparrow
- Blue Jay
- Great Blue Heron
- Carolina Chickadee
- Tufted Titmouse
- Cooper’s Hawk
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- American Robin
- Northern Cardinal
- Mourning Dove
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Brown Creeper
- Carolina Wren