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 ------>

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