Tuesday, April 28, 2015

East Fork Birding Festival Schedule 2015

Saturday, May 2nd

8:00am   Birding south beach area public swimming beach - Cincinnati Bird Club and Oxbow Inc.

8 am  Birding by Kayak - meet at south beach (note:  2-3 hrs long)

10:00am   Live raptors from Hueston Woods raptor center at beach

1:00pm   Some of the rarer birds seen at East Fork over the years as recorded by the areas best wildlife photographers - south ODNR park office.

2pm  Birding by Kayak - meet at south beach

8:30pm   Nocturnal birds of East Fork - meet at South beach Matt Maupin pavilion. Look for owls and woodcock.

Sunday, May 3rd

8am   Birding south beach area - CBC

8am  Birding by kayak - meet at south beach

12pm   Bald Eagles and their comeback in SW Ohio - speaker cancelled, so I will be filling in.  Location:  Matt Maupin picnic shelter at south beach.

2pm  Birding by Kayak - meet at south beach

Events for children ongoing throughout both days. Birding by kayak will also be both days. Spencer Park Aviary will also be on hand to publicize their new bird education facility opening soon in Clermont Co. as well as some local non-profit birding related orgs.

Directions:  East Fork SP south beach

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring... It's Here!

This winter seemed like a very long one.  It was that last blast that seemed to sicken everyone of winter, including myself.  I had pneumonia for the first time, and haven't felt quite right for a while after.  Everyone around me was sick.  I wasn't going out birding much, so I feel like I have a lot of making up to do.

All of the snow from this past winter combined with LOTS of rain has kept the Ohio River and East Fork filled to the brim with very high water.  East Fork has been rather slow as a result.  The lake is just now getting to regular pool levels.

But the trees are green and the warblers are trickling in!  Getting excited for the upcoming first ever East Fork Birding Festival to be held at the south beach at East Fork State Park on May2-3rd, 2015.

Here is a little "catch up" of my local birding.

This past winter, Barred Owls were being seen everywhere in the park and elsewhere.  Even in the middle of the day.  I suspected that they were having a hard time finding food.  Many of the owls became quite famous.  One even causing some birders to argue and call in the authorities!  All of my owl pics below taken out the car window.

I was able to recognize up to at least 3 different owls on the south side of the park alone.  This one is feather-over-the-eye.  It hanged out near the curve before the apple blossom picnic area.

Barred Owl

This bird is scar face.  It seemed to hang out very near the Tate boat ramp.  

Barred Owl

Bird almost too close to focus!

Barred Owl

The East Fork Christmas Bird Count held some cool surprises.  This Snow Goose was right down the road from my house so to speak.

Snow Goose

And this bird was a total surprise... A Peregrine Falcon flying right by

Peregrine Falcon far

The Bald Eagle pair was active this past winter, they are currently nesting at the park.  I am often asked by people at East Fork when I am birding that they have never seen an eagle in the wild.  I am often able to show them one shortly after they make that statement.  Many people don't realize that eagles take a few years to acquire their white head and tail.

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles

In the above photos, the birds where feeding on a dead American Coot.  I think that even adult birds go unrecognized by the general public.  As I was observing this eagle pair from my car (photos taken out car window), a lady got out of her car with a dog off leash.  The dog proceeded to walk towards the eagle.  I was shocked at what I was witnessing.  I was more shocked by what the eagles reaction was...

Bald Eagle protesting off leash dog

One of the birds let out a scream at the dog.  The dog didn't pay attention to the eagle, just kept going towards them.  They flew off shortly after this was taken.

I don't think the woman realized that they were eagles.  Even if she did, I don't understand why she would allow her dog to harass them.  If you are going to take your dog out to a public park or wildlife area, please be respectful of other people and wildlife - keep them ON A LEASH!  

By attending the East Fork Birding Festival, you will learn where the best places to see eagles are around the eastern Cincinnati area.

It seemed like everyone was in a hurry this past winter for spring, including the birds.

"I have to come back to this??"
Brown Thrasher

The winter wasn't all dull bird wise, we did have a Great Black-backed Gull invasion.  One adult at East Fork, this immature bird on the Ohio River in New Richmond.

Great Black-backed Gull

Winter is a good time to see winter waterfowl close up, especially when open water is hard to come by.  Here are a few Common Mergansers down on the river.

Common Mergansers

And a Bufflehead pair from East Fork.

Bufflehead pair

Common Goldeneyes doing their head thing for women.  

Common Goldeneyes

Horned Grebes were very plentiful this early spring.  Many have been misIDed as Eared.  Here is one in transition from EF.

Horned Grebe

And, a little later on, this is what they look like:

Horned Grebe

This bird was calling up a storm.  Something one doesn't often hear down here.  

These ducks always mark that spring is coming, Blue-winged Teal.

Blue-winged Teal pair

I spotted this odd looking male Blue-winged Teal at the two ponds by the ranger station at East Fork this spring.  Never seen one with this variation.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Odd, huh?

There seems to be a mixture of "winter" birds with spring birds.  The harsh winters of last year and this year have many winter migrants way south.  Early warblers with kinglets, and odd sight.  Here is a Golden Crowned hiding.

I see you!

And of course, what is spring without the annual American Coot podophilia!

American Coot

My next post will hopefully consist of some colorful warbly things!  Happy birding and, don't forget ------>

Thursday, March 26, 2015

East Fork Birding Festival 2015

This year, with the help of the Ohio State Parks, I have spearheaded holding a first ever birding festival at East Fork State Park.  The dates will be May 2-3rd, 2015.  As of this date, there will be live raptors, birding by kayak, bird walks, owl walks and other nocturnal birds, eagle nests updates , photography info., etc.

If anyone is willing to help volunteer, please email me (found on side of blog).

More information for those on Facebook can be found here https://www.facebook.com/EFSPBF

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In shades of brown and white

My it is hard to believe that it is December already and there only a couple of weeks til the new year.  It seems like just yesterday that I was anticipating the warblers coming back.  With all of the talk about this being another winter like last winter, I had mixed feelings.  I loved the close looks at some of the harder to find northern ducks last winter, but I didn't enjoy the extreme cold or having to drive 2 hrs in snow to and from work.

This winter started out like last winter, below normal cold with snow, but quickly returned to a more normal type winter for this area.  Many northern birds looked to at first repeat the migration pattern of last year.  But as it warmed back up, the birding seemed to slow back down dramatically.

While I love rarities and life birds, I also enjoy some of the more common winter resident and migrant birds in the area.  This bird showed up one day this early winter and stayed for quite a while at the south beach at East Fork State Park.  It had become some what of a celerity.  This immature Blue morph Snow Goose hung around the beach and was quite approachable by people.  I don't think it has ever seen humans before.

Immature blue morph Snow Goose

Immature blue morph Snow Goose

When I first saw this goose, I wasn't for sure that it was a Snow Goose.  It was sound asleep among the gulls for a long while.  I played a recording of Snow Goose on my cell phone, and the bird jumped up and walked right up to me.  It followed me around for a little while.  It called back to the phone, so I stopped playing it.  

Immature blue morph Snow Goose

The goose is no longer on the beach.  I wonder where it went?

I did manage to run across a gorgeous Rusty Blackbird one cold morning.  It was eating poison ivy berries all by itself.  I sometimes run into lone rusties in this area.  

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

When it turned the other way, I noticed that it had a leucistic (white) feather or two on its wing.  

Rusty Blackbird

Look at that eye, that rusty scaling on the back, such a gorgeous bird!  Here, it was eating an acorn.  

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

It became cloudy shortly after these shots.  I noticed a distant Belted Kingfisher whacking a shad against a dead tree branch at the end of the cove I was in.  

Female Belted Kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher

Horned Larks and American Pipits have been plentiful on the beach early this winter.  I had a flyover Snow Bunting and Lapland Longpur, but nothing would land to get a picture.  

Horned Larks m/f

American Pipit

While searching for winter owls like Long-eared or Northern Saw-whet, I have only come across Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owls.  This particular Great Horned put on a shown recently in the late morning in daylight.  The crows harassed it constantly.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Here, the owl was actively calling!

Great Horned Owl hooting

Great Horned Owl

I get cold chills every time I get close to a wild Great Horned.  Their power and coolness is just awesome!

There have been good winter ducks trickling in, but nothing like last winter yet.  Here is an odd sight that I don't see much.  Ducks on the beach, in this case, a female Northern Shoveler.  

Female Northern Shoveler

Female Northern Shoveler

I finally found a Snow Bunting that decided to stay on the beach at East Fork State Park for a few days.  I love Snow Buntings, as most people do.  

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

There was a Snowy Owl seen briefly in Butler County.  I was out birding the day of its presence, but was not able to get up to see it. It was gone the next day.  Having only ever seen one snowy, I would love to see another.  Hoping to have one appear here this winter!

I do bird other places other than East Fork State Park.  Seeking a change of scenery and maybe something exciting, I decided to hit the Ohio River recently.  The only cool bird seen was this Black Scoter.  I wasn't sure what it was at first, but I was able to see it pretty close after repositioning in the brush.  This bird was at Crooked Run Nature Preserve in Chilo, Ohio.

                            Female Black Scoter

Since I plan on birding some early tomorrow, I will rap things up.  I will leave you with this advice: 

Always find time to spend outdoors.  As I find that things seem to be changing fast around me, I can always slow time down by spending time in nature.  

Ring-billed Gull

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Loon study in different lighting and distances

I feel like a loonatic, having looked at Common Loons all day long.  I have again been searching for the reported Pacific Loon at East Fork State Park.  Pacific would be a lifer, so I really want to be sure of ID before I say that I have ticked it.

I have seen a few loons that appear different.  However, when I look at the "different" one long enough, I only come up with Common.  I wish I had more experience with winter loons.

Here are a few pictures from today that illustrate the point.  Distance can make things appear and disappear.  Lighting makes things do the same.  Size and shape changes with the light constantly, fooling the eyes.  I took the time to watch one loon to the west of the main beach in the cove for over an hour.  No other loons were in close sight.  All of these photos are of the same bird, I can assure you.

Here are the photos from when the sun was out.



Here are the ones when the sun went behind the clouds.  





Remember, all of these pictures are of the same bird in different light.  When the bird got close enough, it looked like just a Common Loon.  I could not make it into anything else.  However, I do not have enough experience separating winter loons to make a definitive conclusion as to species.