Monday, May 19, 2014

American Avocet - life bird, finally!

There has been an American Avocet hanging out at a big mud puddle at Lost Bridge for a while.  I usually don't like to travel far for life birds, however the avocet is an awesome looking bird that I want to see.  I kept hoping that I would one day see one land on the beach at East Fork, but with all of the ever increasing human use, it was/is becoming more and more unlikely.  I got to thinking, since I now work in Hebron, KY, Lost Bridge is only a couple exits from work.  So I decided to make the trip out.

When my girlfriend and I first pulled up, I saw a couple looking out over the water.  I pulled off the road and got out of the car and found the bird quickly.  It was very far away.  Since I had my scope stolen, I really couldn't get a good look at it.  I thought dang.  I need to just keep waiting.  I am glad I did.  Here it comes!

American Avocet in flight

The bird landed right by the road.  I got in the car and pulled up right next to the bird, using the car as a blind.

American Avocet

What an awesome bird!  Gorgeous! 

American Avocet

Love everything about this bird, the pattern on the back is cool.

American Avocet


American Avocet


American Avocet

I think this is my favorite shorebird.  The bird started calling and flew over the car out of sight to a gravel pit on the other side of the road.  

American Avocet calling


A couple of birders pull up right at the same time.  They said they were looking for a bird.  I asked them what bird and they said avocet.  I told them that it just flew to the other side of the road.  I thought, dang, was I lucky!  We searched and searched for the bird, but could not relocate it.  As I was getting back in my car, I noticed a large shorebird hunched down in the vegetation back at the big mud puddle.  It was the avocet.  I showed the couple the bird, for which it was very near on the close shore.  They were very thankful that I spotted it, cause it was concealed in vegetation.  I am glad that I got to show them this awesome bird.    

I got to thinking...  I have gotten my lifer Wilson's Phalarope at this same spot years ago.  There were flocks of shorebirds flying in and out the whole time I was there.  This place is only a shallow scrape in the mud that is used as a topsoil operation.  It would not be hard to recreate this same type of habitat in a river valley.  If only I had the money...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Spring surprise!

Well the hotter than normal weather has now become the cooler than normal weather.  Temperatures of 85° in the daytime will now be replaced by 60° high temps.  The cold front that had brought this change brought some nice storms.  I know by experience that after such a storm is a good time to check the beach at East Fork State Park for fallout shorebirds and other waterbirds.  I had Spotted, Least, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers with Killdeer.  But I wasn't expecting to see this:

Franklin's Gull

Franklin's Gull

A 1st summer Franklin's Gull.

I thought when I first saw it that it might be a Laughing Gull, but the white spots on the primaries proved otherwise.  It was flying around the parking lot area, landing and taking off again.

Franklin's Gull


Franklin's Gull


Franklin's Gull

The bird was very skittish and was always moving around.  Always remember to bird the weather.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Behold the colors of Spring!

I have been spending my entire weekends off looking at birds!  But, who wouldn't with all of the beautiful birds, wildflowers, and life!  Migrants are continuing to pour in, and I am ready to greet them.  It is nice to wake up to the songs of Chipping Sparrows and the spunky little House Wren that hangs out by my window.

Chipping Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow


House Wren peeking out.

The last couple of weekends, a friend and I have been visiting Shawnee State Forest in southern Ohio.  It is much easier to see how birds migrate in waves here.  One visit, a certain bird will be everywhere, and then a few days later, another bird will be everywhere and so on.  Last weekend, the American Redstart was everywhere.  They are still around, but not in the numbers as last weekend.  I love watching them.  

American Redstart


American Redstart

Wesee, wesee, wesee - O!

American Redstart

American Redstart

Love that long, colorful tail.

American Redstart

One warbler that I always thought was a drab warbler, but never really seen real good was the Worm-eating Warbler.  They are often heard only birds.  But, we got lucky at Shawnee and they were all over this one hillside.  They are actually more yellowish than I thought, really a striking warbler.

Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler

Love the blue of the Tree Swallow.  This one was keeping an eye on me as I was walking past.

Tree Swallow

The blue on this bird is just awesome in the right light.  I don't see this bird much, so I was very happy to see this one after I heard it.  It came down to eye level and fed for quite a while.  The Cerulean Warbler, love them in redbud trees!

Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler

Red is one of my favorite colors, and this bird has plenty of it!  It is hard to describe the intensity of the red of this bird.  It is a more vibrant red than that of the Northern Cardinal.  A gorgeous chick-burring bird is the Scarlet Tanager!

Scarlet Tanager

Here is one eating a katydid.


Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Here is another bird with some awesome red!  I love this bird.  Gorgeous is the massive billed Rose-breasted Grosbeak!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

There were two males at Shawnee State Forest just chowing down on Elm tree seeds.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Even the back is cool!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

How could anyone stay inside and watch TV when these colorful and lovely sounding birds are moving through?  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring has won!

After this seemingly extreme winter, I think I can finally say Spring has won out.  As of the writing of this post at noon today, it is 72°F.  It is finally green out and the birds continue to trickle in.  I say trickle because it seems as if we are at a slightly slow pace migration wise.

Louisiana Waterthurshes have been back for a while, they are settled in.  This one just got done mating (this is a female ;-)

Louisiana Waterthrush

Love their song!
Louisiana Waterthrush

Prairie Warblers have just got back.  Love them.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Ospreys are also back.  I think they are nesting at East Fork.  This one made a visit to Crooked Run yesterday.

Osprey

Green Herons have also just got back.  Yesterday, I seen 4 at one time.  I think this is a record for me.  They were at the wetlands at Crooked Run NP in Chilo, OH.  I used to seen this bird in my yard as a child, they seem to be harder to find nowadays.  

Green Heron

But THE bird that spells SPRING is this bird.  I call it the sunshine bird, the Prothonotary Warbler.  It seems to bring warmth and sunshine to wherever it is.  Just can't never get enough of this bird!

Prothonotary Warbler


Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

The American Kestrel pair that was at Crooked Run NP is nesting somewhere in the park.  I seen European Starlings using the box, so I think they are in a dead tree somewhere.  I heard and then saw the male kestrel flying and calling near by.  I watched and saw that he had a snake.  He then flew to his mate, presenting it to her.  She didn't really seem too interested in it.  She flew away...

Kestrel Pair with snake

The male decides to eat the snake for himself.

Kestrel with snake


Kestrel with snake


Kestrel with snake

But, the snake may have worked.  They mated soon after he finished eating the snake.  It was a cool event to see!  This is why Spring is my favorite season.

So much to see and witness outdoors right now.  Make sure you break away from the daily hustle and bustle to see the natural world!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The tug of war continues...

The tug of war of the seasons continues.  As I write this post, snow is on the ground and it is only 34° with a freeze warning issued for tonight calling for temperatures in the 20°s.  Just yesterday, it was 80° here.  I enjoy watching the change over of our "winter" birds to that of our "spring" birds.  It just feels like the spring birds don't get here fast enough after such a hard winter.  Some Red-necked Grebes are still lingering, but the scoters seem to have finally headed back north.

The Juncos are singing, along with Chipping Sparrows.  Makes one think they are hearing Pine Warblers.  They are back, but I just don't see many of them around the east side where I bird.

Fox Sparrows have been numerous on the north side of East Fork.  I love to hear them sing.

Fox Sparrow


Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are all over everywhere as they slowly creep northward.  

Fluffed Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Brown Thrashers are back in force, meaning it is officially Spring despite the snow on the ground.  Love this bird.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher


Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are everywhere, they seem to have just went from none to everywhere.  I always enjoy having them back.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Yellow-throated Warblers are back in force.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Pine Warblers are around, I went to Shawnee State Forest, where they are a little more easier to get.  Many think of them as a drab warbler, but they are nice to look at me thinks.

Pine Warbler


Pine Warbler

Northern Parulas are back, but not quite in numbers yet.

Northern Parula

While at Shawnee State Forest (Southern Ohio), Black and white Warblers were back in force this past weekend.  I love this warbler.  I still remember seeing this bird in my grandparents yard when I was a kid and not knowing what it was.  I remember looking in books after books till I finally found out what it was.

                               Black and White Warbler


Black and White Warbler

As the snow slowly melts away to reveal the greened up look of the landscape, I can only look foward to the warmer temps later in the week.  The changeover of the seasons seems to be going slow, but eventually it will be over.  Make sure you get out there to see the warblers trickling back!