Got Garganey?

Haha!  No.  This is not the name of a new disease.  Well.  If you haven’t seen this bird yet you might start feeling sick.  How long will it stay?  No one knows.  Ohhhh the agony of having to wait for an opportunity to chase a rare bird!  I heard about this bird on Friday.  I watched reports on the Internet all day Saturday and through Sunday morning.  By the time some of us finished up our obligations at Flora-Quest in Scioto County it was already mid-afternoon.  Finally, all 5 of us (Greg & Leslie Cornett, Cheryl Harner, Jason Larson, and myself piled into the Cornett’s Honda Pilot and set the GPS for Fernald Preserve northwest of Cincinnati–nearly 2.5 hours away.  Traveling this distance to see a bird from Eurasia always seems to go in slow motion.

Two hours into our trip we got a call from another birder, Janet Creamer, saying that she was currently watching the bird from the platform at the first pond on the right side of the entrance road into the preserve.  And then…

Garganey - Fernald Preserve, Harrison, OH photo: Greg Miller

What a striking bird, don’t you think?  It’s about the same size as the Blue-winged Teals with which it associates.

Garganey & Blue-winged Teal - Fernald Preserve, Harrison, OH photo: Greg Miller

Ahhh.  Sweet success!

Wild and Wonderful Shawnee State Park

Down in the far southern part of Ohio near the Ohio River is Shawnee State Park.  It is a beautiful place to visit and quite fascinating especially this time of year.  I rode down today with Greg and Leslie Cornett to attend Flora Quest. (shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone that I find plants and butterflies interesting, too.  It might hurt my reputation. haha) We arrived late morning and made a leisurely journey up to Picnic Point and back today.

Indigo Bunting - Shawnee St Park photo: Greg Miller

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You Started A New Hobby??!!?

Whaaaat?  hahaha.  Well.  Not really new.  But new nonetheless.  I’ve ditched my old scopes and upgraded to just one new one.  And…<drumroll>…I got a DSLR camera and adapter to go with it.  So I am one happy camper.  And I’ve been reading.  What a complicated new world!  But, I am quite excited.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to give myself some real patience with this twist of my birding hobby.  The learning curve is pretty big.  And execution is kind of difficult.  (Especially for Captain Shaky Hands)  This will, of course, put a dent in my traditional listing.  But hey.  Now my digiscoping setup is going to have its own life list. :-)

Snowy Egret - Millersburg, OH - 2011-04-26 photo: Greg Miller

This is a pretty good bird for the Bobolink Area of Ohio.  For those of you who want to look, this bird is South of the Walmart on Rt 83 South of Millersburg, Ohio.  From the intersection of Rt 62 & Rt 83 South of town (where Rt 62 splits off toward Killbuck), go North (toward the Walmart) and park safely in the first wide dirt pulloff on the right side of the road.  Pull completely off the road.  Rt 83 has lots of trafffic.  The bird should be feeding in the swampy area across the road.

Unfortunately, it was windy and cloudy at the time and I was pretty far away.  So this pic is a bit grainy, but it sure looks a whole lot better than my zillions of old photos that qualify for the Gallery of C.R.A.P.  (Completely Ridiculous Awful Photographs). Continue reading

Whiff!

Female Varied Thrush photo: Minette Layne

Above is a representative photo only (state of Washington).  I know of no photos that were taken of the Wayne County bird yesterday.

Yep.  Whiff.  Missed this bird today.  I heard about a reported Varied Thrush late this morning via a phone call.  I went to verify/see the bird near Apple Creek, Ohio.  I picked up Robert Hershberger and we arrived at the Apple Creek home that reported the Varied Thrush.  This was also the same home that hosted a Harris’s Sparrow most of this past winter.

As you can see from the picture above, there are some similarities to an immature American Robin.  The mottled breast of the female Varied Thrush has at least some remote similarity to the spotted breast of an immature robin.  And immature robins can have a white eyestripe, while the female Varied Thrush has a light orange eyestripe.  But in no plumage of American Robin does it have the orange wingbars of the Varied Thrush.  These orange wingbars are so diagnostic that a birder can observe this feature of the Varied Thrush in flight with the naked eye.

We parked and then talked to the homeowners.  They escorted us back to the Southwest corner of the lot to the woods back of the pond.  This is where the bird had been seen last.  A small contingent of birders crossed the fence and scoured the woods, but with no luck. Continue reading

Visitor From The West

Bullock's Oriole, SE Ohio, 4-14-2011 photo: Dane Adams

Wow!  What a brightly-colored bird!  He’s lost his way to the Western United States, but I’m glad he stopped in for a visit here in Ohio.  This is the first Bullock’s Oriole I’ve seen East of the Mississippi and my first Ohio Bullock’s.  Thanks to Dane Adams for this gorgeous photo!

Bullock's Oriole, SE Ohio, 4-13-2011 photo: Su Snyder

I heard about this bird from Su Snyder about noon on Wednesday.  It was almost 2pm before we could verify it.  I met her at 3pm in Strasburg and we made the 2-hr trek below Barnesville, Ohio.  The oriole is coming to the feeders behind the house.  It’s always fun to do a chase.  But you never know if the bird is still going to be there or not when you arrive.  But that is part of the excitement!

So what makes a Bullock’s Oriole decide to visit Ohio?  Was it the suet?  Hmmm.  Probably not.  Maybe it was looking for Oreo Cookies?  Haha!  I am kidding.  Well.  *I* like Oreos.

So where are all the rest of the Bullock’s Orioles at this time of year?  Check out the reports in eBird for Bullock’s Oriole this month, April, 2011.

Bullock's Oriole side view, SE Ohio, 4-13-2011 photo: Greg Miller

Bullocks Oriole from behind, SE Ohio, 4-13-2011 photo: Greg Miller

So I got home fairly late after the unexpected chase for the Bullock’s Oriole.  So what did I do Thursday morning?  haha!  Another chase, of course!  I left the house a little after 5am to go pick up Robert Hershberger and make the 3.5-hr journey to Pt. Mouillee for a White Wagtail.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  More on that 16-hour day in my next post.

It’s April. Do You Know Where Smith’s Longspurs Are?

For many Ohio birders, Smith’s Longspurs are merely a myth.  Haha.  They can be beastly hard to find and require a lot of luck.  But there are several things any birder can do to increase his/her chances of finding any target species.

  • Preferred breeding areas
  • Areas with wintering populations
  • Migratory movements
  • Food preferences

Smith's Longspurs (yes, there are 2 of them) photo: National Park Service

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Western Meadowlark Continues

A Western Meadowlark is a rare bird in Ohio.  Some years may only see one or two records for the entire state of Ohio.  It is a special bird for me because of its uniquely melodic song.  The sound of it takes me away.  I was out with Cheryl Harner yesterday and I got some distant photos of the bird in gray back lit conditions.  If you’re lucky, you can tell it’s a meadowlark.

Western Meadowlark, Holmesville, OH - 4/5/2011 photo: Greg Miller

Hahaha!  Above is the tiny black spec race of the Western Meadowlark. Continue reading

Ohio Migration update

Waterfowl migration will be slowing down soon and shorebirds, waders, and shorebirds will be picking up.  The first warblers should show up in Ohio this week.  Using the Ohio Ornithological Society’s weekly checklist feature (for April 4), here is a list of what we can expect for new arrivals and those birds which have been straggling and will leave us this week.

First arrivals this week
Snowy Egret (rare)
Cattle Egret (rare)
Yellow-crowned Night-heron (rare)
Broad-winged Hawk (rare)
Sora (rare)
Solitary Sandpiper (rare)
Dunlin (rare)
Franklin’s Gull (rare)
Caspian Tern (rare)
Common Tern (rare)
Whip-poor-will (rare)
Marsh Wren (rare)
Black-throated Green Warbler (rare)
Yellow-throated Warbler (rare)
Black-and-white Warbler (rare)
Brewer’s Blackbird (rare)

Last departures this week
Red-throated Loon (rare)
Northern Shrike (rare)
Snow Bunting (rare)

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Hey! That Looks Snipetastic!

Haha!  Whaaat?!?  Yes.  There really is a SNIPE.  Here in North America it is the Wilson’s Snipe, a bird.  It is a wonderfully camouflaged shorebird of marshes in most all of Central and North America.  Many of the snipes encountered in Ohio are seen during migration on their northward trek as far North as the Hudson Bay.

Can you find Waldo? Haha! Wilson's Snipe camouflage is very special. photo: Greg Miller

Even closer, this snipe is hard to see. The reflection is easier to see than the bird itself. photo: Greg Miller

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