Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's nesting season again!

 One of my greatest joys in birding is when I find a nest. One of the earliest nesters in Ohio is the Great Horned Owl. They will readily use artificial nesting tubs placed in trees by park district officials, such as this one at Rapid Run Park, a park within the Cincinnati Park Board.

Other nests that may be easy to find may be heron nests since they will nest in colonies. This Great Blue Heron rookery is located at Winton Woods in the Hamilton County Park District. When I was here in March I counted 12 nests. In years past a pair of Black-crowned Night-Herons have nested here as well.

Birds that habitually use the same old nest from previous years can be found fairly easily if you know where to look. Eastern Phoebes will use manmade structures such as bridges, or in this case, a restroom facility at Miami-Whitewater Forest.

I find the easiest stage to find nests of songbirds is during the building stage, when birds can be seen carrying nesting material. It is just a matter of watching the birds from a safe distance to determine where they are making repeated visits. This Chipping Sparrow and the foundations of its nest were found at Mitchell Memorial Forest this April. Both sexes were building.

Small birds such as warblers and gnatcatchers can sometimes be difficult to find. However, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a noisy, sprity little bird that is very busy during nest building. Both sexes build the nest soon after their arrival in April. This nest was found just yesterday at Eastwood Metropark in Dayton, Ohio.

 I hope to find many more nests this breeding season. When I do I will post more photos to this blog. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos from years past here:
Acadian Flycatcher, incubating. Lawrence Co., OH. Summer 1992.
Eastern Wood-Pewee. Lawrence Co., OH. Summer 1992.
Worm-eating Warbler at entrance of nest. Lawrence Co., OH. Summer 1992.

Black-and-white Warbler nestlings. Lawrence Co., OH. Summer 1992.

Dickcissel nestlings and unhatched egg. Caesar's Creek Region. circa 1990's.
Mourning Dove. Cincinnati Nature Center. 1980's or 1990's?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Enjoying Ducks, Swans and Geese with Adam

Today I took my eight year old son, Adam, to Fernald Preserve to do some wildlife photography. He enjoyed seeing swans and geese, and particularly enjoyed the wildlife viewing blind. On the way there, I counted five Red-tailed Hawks and three American Kestrels, a good omen for a decent raptor day. We stopped in Ross, Ohio for lunch and then headed to Fernald.

Our waterfowl list included the following (numbers of ducks are my best estimates):

160 Canada Goose
1 Mute Swan
6 Tundra Swan
30 Gadwall
80 Mallard
4 Northern Shoveler (all males)
6 Redhead
30 Ring-necked Duck

Seven swans can be seen here, six Tundra and one Mute.

The Mute Swan was aggressive toward the Tundra Swans and Canada Geese. An aggressive interaction can be seen here in the second photo below.

One of the Tundra Swans took flight and never returned to Lodge Pond.

This particular bird wanted to land, but aborted the landing. Was the Mute Swan keeping this Tundra Swan from landing safely on the water?

Is this the Beatles?
In addition to the waterfowl seen today, I also recorded 3 Northern Harriers, 3 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 American Kestrels.

Red-tailed Hawk, photographed from vehicle.

Another Red-tailed Hawk taking off from a telephone pole.

Male American Kestrel, photo taking through windshield.
Northern Harriers did not come close enough for a good photo. I was hoping for one to fly by the wildlife blind but it wasn't to be today. I'll get my harrier shot eventually, It takes a lot of patience, or luck, to get a photo of the desired species.

Raptor count today, including those en route to and from Fernald include the following:

Northern Harrier 3
Red-tailed Hawk 8
American Kestrel 6

The remaining five Tundra Swans took flight around 3:00 p.m. today, heading in the direction of the visitor center, which was closed today.

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans

Here are a couple more shots from today's visit.

Mute Swan, Gadwall and Mallards

Canada Geese
The ebird checklist of today's findings are at

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gulling on the GMR, Then an Explosion of Geese Came Out of Nowhere!

Recently reported on the Ohio ebird alert email along the Great Miami River (GMR) in Dayton, Ohio were Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Glaucous, Iceland and Thayer's Gulls. Although I did not find all of the desired species, I think I did find the Great Black-backed Gull. Could this be it here?

Probable Great Black-backed Gull (2nd year?).

I found hundreds, if not thousands, of gulls along Carillon Blvd. containing about 95% Ring-billed and 5% Herring Gulls, but was unable to locate any of the other recently reported rarities.

UD Arena in the background.

First year Ring-billed Gull in flight.

While I was scanning through the gulls, I heard some honking, looked up, and then this happened!

And they just kept coming...

Coming in for a landing.

Some geese have landed. Not finding any Cackling. The water behind the gulls held 10 Hooded Mergansers and a few Mallards.

 Although I did not find any Cackling among these throngs of Canadas (due to a lack of time, I had to drive home to Cincinnati), I did find what appear to be Lesser Canada Geese (B.c. parvipes). The photos are somewhat blurry but may be diagnostic.

Probable B.c. parvipes in middle.

Probable B.c. parvipes second from left in middle row.

A link to the ebird checklist with my best estimates can be found at

This visit is a result of dipping again on a recently reported Eastern Screech-Owl at Eastwood Lake Metropark.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"I have a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph ..."

My brother sold me his Nikon D50 digital camera with a 75-150 mm zoom lens. I've been wanting a digital camera since seeing a lot of digital bird photos being posted on Flickr and on Facebook pages such as Birding Ohio and Cincinnati Birders.

After my dentist appointment yesterday (12/30/2014) I decided to go on a quick photo shoot at Otto Armleder Park east of Cincinnati on Wooster Pike (not far from Lunken Airport). I did not find many willing subjects, save for a cooperative Canada Goose and a hovering female American Kestrel (photo not included because it is out of focus). Digital photography is new to me and I'm just using the automatic setting and shooting in JPEG format until I learn more advanced techniques such as shooting in "raw."

Canada Goose
Otto Armleder Park 12/30/2014

Here is the same photo, heavily cropped.

Today, in my backyard, this pair of Red-tailed Hawks circled overhead.

Red-tailed Hawk pair
Covedale, OH (a suburb of Cincinnati)

I was also able to crop two photos, shown below.

 Red-tailed Hawk
Covedale, OH (12/31/2014)

Here are some slightly out of focus shots from yesterday at Otto Armleder Park:

female American Kestrel (cropped)
Otto Armleder Park 12/30/2014

Great Blue Heron (cropped)
Otto Armleder Park 12/30/2014

old bird's nest (appears to be American Goldfinch, although Yellow Warbler was also considered)
Otto Armleder Park 12/30/2014

I could learn alot about digital bird photography from other birders who regularly post online, such as Donald Morse, Jr.

I plan to go on another photo shoot soon, hoping to get some shots of some raptors and waterfowl. Until then, enjoy the shots shown in this post.