Tag Archives: Winton Woods Park

Notes From The Field

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:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. American Coot
  4. Mallard
  5. Song Sparrow
  6. Fox Sparrow
  7. Blue Jay
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. Carolina Chickadee
  10. Tufted Titmouse
  11. Cooper’s Hawk
  12. Red-tailed Hawk
  13. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  14. Downy Woodpecker
  15. American Robin
  16. Northern Cardinal
  17. Mourning Dove
  18. White-breasted Nuthatch
  19. Brown Creeper
  20. Carolina Wren

Notes From The Field

Well today is day 2 for Ethan’s film workshop, and Kathy is still cramming for finals tomorrow night. Gosh, with all this activity going on around me, I guess I’ll have to birding again. So let’s go someplace I’ve not been to in a while.

I had some pretty good luck at Winton Woods in the past, and granted it’s a wee bit early for warblers, I do know that Pine Warblers are starting to show up, and there’s a part of the park that is great for Pine Warblers. However my first stop will be at the settling pond over by the dam. I’ve not been there since they gated off the access road that goes all the way around. The park district did this to protect migrating and nesting birds. It seems that people took advantage of it being open and with too many people and pets it made for a  bad situation. So this is a good thing.

There were quite a few ducks in the settling pond. I came away with 7 different species. This place can be either hit or miss when it comes to waterfowl.

So if you do a 180 from where you stand looking out over the pond, you can look down into this small, depression with a trail running around. There were also a lot of little birds playing around just begging me to come explore. So I did.

It’s a rather boggy and wet area. Lots of little sky ponds, with some tall vegetation throughout, and this place has the potential to produce some bird species. Especially when the peeps and waders start to make their way back. I noticed that someone places several bat houses around the perimeter. I would assume that it gets kind of buggy here. On to the dam.

One thing I did notice while I was here, was a Bluebird searching among the rocks at the bottom of the dam. After my stop over here, It was onto my next stop, the Par Course Trail.

So while I was driving to the Par Course Trail, I was on Sharon Road going towards Winton Road. When out of the corner of my left eye I noticed a chevron shaped flight of birds. Good thing there wasn’t much traffic, because when I looked again I saw 30 Sandhill Cranes crossing Sharon Road in front of me. I pulled over quickly and got off a couple of shots.

I drove on down to a church parking lot where I noticed the flock split into 2.  I was able to take one more picture before they flew off. This really got the blood flowing.

The Par Course Trail is tucked back into Winton Woods kind of off the beaten path. There’s not much back there. A Frisbee Golf Course, and a baseball field and a all purpose field that today was being used by a group of people playing Ultimate Frisbee. For me I just wanted to hit the woods.

The trail is nice and wide with gravel covering the surface. It gets a little too  crunchy for me, especially when you’re listening for birds. However where I want to go the trail is softened up by pine needles and leaves. And with the recent rainfall the ground is still moist. I’m looking for this tall stand of Pine trees which tower above everything else in the woods.

The trail comes to a point where several trails meet. And a small stream flows in from the right to go under the trail.

This portion of the trail goes off to the right, and up into those tall pines you can see in the distance.

You can tell by this picture just how tall the trees are in this area.

The atmosphere was surreal in this section of the woods. It was almost too quiet, with very little noise except for some traffic on a nearby road. With the ground being soft under foot, you never heard your own footsteps. This would be a great place to walk in the middle of the night on a full moon.

For my final stop, Kingfisher Trail. How can a birder not go birding on a trail named after a bird.

The trail starts out running parallel to Kingfisher Stream, and then leaves the stream bottom to climb up and into the woods that divides the trail into two. However since time is running out on me I only do half of the trail.

Ma and Pa Mallard

Closer look at Pa.

A nice parting shot of Kingfisher Stream with the trail running along side of it. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I leave the park, the sun starts to come out. I guess my sunny day was yesterday.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Ruddy Duck
  3. Coot
  4. Greater Scaup
  5. Ring-necked Duck
  6. Gadwall
  7. American Wigeon
  8. Mallard
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. Red-winged Black Bird
  11. White-throated Sparrow
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Carolina Chickadee
  14. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  15. American Robin
  16. Cooper’s Hawk
  17. Blue Jay
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Tufted Titmouse
  21. Sandhill Crane
  22. Northern Mockingbird
  23. Northern Cardinal
  24. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  25. White-breasted Nuthatch
  26. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  27. Dark-eyed Junco
  28. Turkey Vulture
  29. Pileated Woodpecker

2010-A Year In Rerview

As the year closes, I feel that a reflective post is in order. Review what has transpired from a birding prospective over the course of the year 2010.

If I had to sum up 2010 in one word, it would be “Incredible”. The minute I made the decision to devote more of my spare time to birding, it has been a thrilling ride. The triggering mechanism that hurtled me to birding bliss was the purchase of my spotting scope. As I’ve said in the past, if it wasn’t for my spotting scope my “Life List” wouldn’t be what it is today. And when you can pull in that far away duck, and be able to identify it, that’s what keeps me coming back.

Following Cincinnati Bird Club’s web site, and religiously checking the postings of recent sightings has been invaluable. On a number of occasions I’ve followed up on a sighting that was posted, and I come away with a new bird for my life list. Case in point, the American Avocets at Cowen Lake State Park.

Discovering new places to visit has taken me to hot spots I normally wouldn’t go to. Just in the Tri-State area I’ve visited Boone County Cliffs, Shawnee Lookout Park, Winton Woods, Sharon Woods, Armleder Park, The Oxbow, Miami Whitewater Forest, Fernald Preserve, Halls Creek Preserve, Voice of America Park, Ft. Ancient State Memorial, Brookville Lake State Park, Cowan Lake State Park, Caesar Creek State Park, Magrish Riverland Preserve, and Spring Valley Wildlife Area. Some of my birding adventures have taken me on the road. I really enjoy traveling and hope to do more in 2011. Distant birding venues include Red River Gorge, Mackinac Island, Magee Marsh, Ottawa and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuges. Some of my more recent trips have taken me to Lake Erie, Killdeer Plains and Mercer Wildlife Areas.

I’m meeting new friends as I participate more and more in organized field trips. Whether they are sponsored by the Audubon Society, or Cincinnati Bird Club, joining a group, I feel, makes you a better birder. They all have pearls they want to share with an experienced novice like myself. I really enjoy field trips with knowledgeable and passionate birders. Either with a large group or my best friend Phil.

With the addition of “A Birder’s Notebook”, I’m able to share my thoughts and experiences to the public. This blog has taken my birding encounters just one step toward “Birding Happiness”. That may sound corny, but it’s true. To be able to share your thoughts and exploits with other people helps me to maintain my focus. To help educate birders and non-birders, whether it’s about “Birding Ethics”, to book reviews, I enjoy keeping my blog updated with the latest information.

Now onto my list of new birds I’ve seen this year. Now you may look at this list and say to yourself, “what a long list”. Just remember this is the first year that I put forth the effort to bird on a regular basis. Traveling to Magee Marsh in the Spring added to my life list quite a bit. My spotting scope has helped a little bit as well.

  1. Greater White-fronted Goose
  2. Ross’s Goose
  3. Cackling Goose
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Redhead
  6. Greater Scaup
  7. Lesser Scaup
  8. White-winged Scoter
  9. Black Scoter
  10. Long-tailed Duck
  11. Bufflehead
  12. Common Goldeneye
  13. Red-throated Loon
  14. Pacific Loon
  15. Horned Grebe
  16. Eared grebe
  17. Red-necked Grebe
  18. Black-crowned Night Heron
  19. Broad-winged Hawk
  20. Rough-legged Hawk
  21. Northern Harrier
  22. Merlin
  23. Sora
  24. American Golden Plover
  25. Semipalmated Plover
  26. Black-necked Stilt
  27. American Avocet
  28. Solitary sandpiper
  29. Greater Yellowlegs
  30. Lesser Yellowlegs
  31. Sanderling
  32. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  33. Least Sandpiper
  34. White-rumped sandpiper
  35. Baird’s Sandpiper
  36. Pectoral Sandpiper
  37. Dunlin
  38. Short-billed Dowitcher
  39. American Woodcock
  40. Wilson’s Snipe
  41. Bonaparte’s Gull
  42. Franklin’s Gull
  43. Herring Gull
  44. Great Black-backed Gull
  45. Caspian Tern
  46. Black Tern
  47. Pomarine Jaeger
  48. Short-eared Owl
  49. Northern Saw-whet Owl
  50. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  51. Willow Flycatcher
  52. Acadian Flycatcher
  53. Least Flycatcher
  54. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  55. White-eyed Vireo
  56. Blue-headed Vireo
  57. Philadelphia Vireo
  58. Red-eyed Vireo
  59. Horned Lark
  60. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  61. Winter Wren
  62. Sedge Wren
  63. Veery
  64. Grey-cheeked Thrush
  65. Swainson’s Thrush
  66. American Pipit
  67. Blue-winged Warbler
  68. Golden-winged Warbler
  69. Tennessee Warbler
  70. Orange-crowned Warbler
  71. Nashville Warbler
  72. Northern Parula
  73. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  74. Magnolia Warbler
  75. Cape May Warbler
  76. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  77. Black-throated Green Warbler
  78. Blackburnian Warbler
  79. Yellow-throated Warbler
  80. Pine Warbler
  81. Prairie Warbler
  82. Palm Warbler
  83. Bay-breasted Warbler
  84. Blackpoll Warbler
  85. American Redstart
  86. Prothonotary Warbler
  87. Worm-eating Warbler
  88. Ovenbird
  89. Northern Waterthrush
  90. Louisiana Waterthrush
  91. Kentucky Warbler
  92. Mourning Warbler
  93. Common Yellowthroat
  94. Hooded Warbler
  95. Wilson’s Warbler
  96. Canada Warbler
  97. Yellow-breasted Chat
  98. Lark Sparrow
  99. Henslow’s Sparrow
  100. Swamp Sparrow
  101. Lapland Longspur
  102. Snow Bunting
  103. Blue Grosbeak
  104. Dickcissel
  105. Orchard Oriole

So what’s in-store for me in 2011? Well, I’ll be picking up where I left off in 2010. Maintaining a consistent routine where I attempt to get out at least once a week. Keeping an eye on Ohio Listserv and Cincinnati Bird Club sightings log, to keep myself ahead of the game. Participating in more organized field trips, that will in turn build upon existing friendships,and hopefully produce more. Adding to my life list towards 300 different species.

Also this year I’m adding a new spotting scope to my birding tools. Why would I do such a thing when my present scope is only a year old? Well, I had issues with the eyepiece and cold weather. It wasn’t a very expensive spotting scope in the first place, and now would be a good time to up-grade. More on this as the purchase date draws near.

Phil and myself are presenting our 3rd annual Bird Study Merit Badge. The date has been set and the location has changed to Fernald preserve. I’m very excited about this years class. I love Fernald Preserve, and I’m sure the scouts will to.

And finally, I’ll be studying harder so I can improve upon my existing experience to be a better birder. See you in 2011.

Outings & Sightings 8/18/2010

Well it certainly has been a busy, non-birding week here at “A Birders Notebook”, but I was able to get some birding in with my new birding friend John M. We had planned on going to VOA Park to spot some Henslow’s, but John called and said that he had spotted a Sora over at the holding pond at Winton Woods Park. And since I didn’t have one on my life list, we went there instead.

We also meet up with Allan C. who was there for the same reason. Even though we had a fleeing glimpse of the Sora, none the less, it was a new bird, and I left a happy person.

I had never been to this part of Winton Woods before and John informed me that it was a pretty hot spot for ducks in the winter time. Not as good as Camp Dennison, but good all the same. Another place to check out during the winter, I like it.

We arrived at about 7:00 pm and left at 8:30 pm. Birds of interest are,

  1. Grasshopper Sparrow
  2. Song Sparrow
  3. Gold Finch
  4. Eastern Phoebe
  5. Purple Martin
  6. Indigo Bunting
  7. Sora
  8. Wood Duck
  9. Mallard
  10. Blue Wing Teal
  11. Great Blue Heron
  12. Cedar Wax Wing
  13. Field Sparrow
  14. Canada Goose
  15. Chimney Swift
  16. Eastern Bluebird
  17. Common Nighthawk
  18. Cooper’s Hawk
  19. Mourning Dove
  20. Eastern Kingbird
  21. Carolina Chickadee
  22. Tufted Titmouse
  23. Carolina Wren
  24. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  25. American Robin
  26. Northern cardinal
  27. Blue Grosbeak
  28. House Finch