SJLaRue Photography: Blog https://www.sjlarue.com/blog en-us Steve Jones aka SJLaRue (SJLaRue Photography) Sun, 04 Dec 2016 14:19:00 GMT Sun, 04 Dec 2016 14:19:00 GMT https://www.sjlarue.com/img/s/v-5/u852126057-o67802012-50.jpg SJLaRue Photography: Blog https://www.sjlarue.com/blog 90 120 East Coast Birding https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/12/east-coast-birding I feel sort of guilty spending more blog time on West Cost birding. I spent the same amount of time on both coasts, and I saw a lot of birds on both coasts...but something was different between the two. It is clear to see which coast is visited more by tourists. Except for a few pockets of public beaches and national parks, the whole east coast is either developed beyond belief, or beach access is fee based, with very little public parking. Its so bad that if the first 100 yards of shore falls into the ocean, Florida would be plunged into a depression that would take years to recover from.

I purposely try to find places that are great birding spots, and free...or near free. West coast, except for the $6 toll to get on Sanibel Island, and another fee for the driving tour on that Island (full disclosure Vincent's Senior status paid for the tour...) I think I paid $2 for parking at Bunche Beach. East Cost birding around Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach was costly, or would have been if I had paid all the fees.

On my first east coast day, with very little public beach access, the areas where there are shorebirds to be seen are few and far between. The best location I went to was Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve and the Canaveral National Seashore. It reaches north to Apollo Beach which is near Smyrna Beach and goes all the way down to Port Canaveral. I did not go to NASA while I was there...been there, done that. However, NASA does rule the roost, so if there is a launch pending, part if not all of the reserve is shut down. When I went the cost was $6 for entry. That included both beaches and the wildlife drive. Though if you have the America the Beautiful Pass, you get in free. Seniors pay $10 (Plus $10 for documentation fees) and they get the pass for life...us mere youngsters have to pay $80 a year...but it is still cheaper if you go to a lot of US pay parks or if you take a car load of kids...wish I would have known this LAST year. :-D...Anyhew, more info on the passes here:

https://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html

I had very few shorebirds while I was there, but the east coast was also in the midst of cleanup from Hurricane Mathew, and the National Seashore still needed a lot of cleanup when I went, so they may have been pushed somewhere else while I was there. I had a lot of Brown Pelicans, Terns, Gulls, Sanderlings, and Red Knots, and that's about it. I had better birding opportunities at the wildlife drive. Nothing new, but still a bunch of good birds:

 

 

Before I continue, I have to ask...How far would you hike in +80 degree heat to see one bird? If it is an everyday/everywhere bird, I wouldn't go out of my way, however if it were a hard to find life bird...I'd hike a few miles. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are listed as endangered and pretty much every nest is protected in one way or another. It is a bird that used to be common, but became endangered due to habitat loss.

From The US Fish and Wildlife Service:

“RCWs were once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem, which covered approximately 90 million acres before European settlement. Historical population estimates are 1-1.6 million "groups", the family unit of RCWs. The birds inhabited the open pine forests of the southeast from New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia to Florida, west to Texas and north to portions of Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The longleaf pine ecosystem initially disappeared from much of its original range because of early (1700’s) European settlement, widespread commercial timber harvesting and the naval stores/turpentine industry (1800’s). Early to mid-1900 commercial tree farming, urbanization and agriculture contributed to further declines. Much of the current habitat is also very different in quality from historical pine forests in which RCWs evolved. Today, many southern pine forests are young and an absence of fire has created a dense pine/hardwood forest.”

There is a wealth of info on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker on the USFWS website:

https://www.fws.gov/rcwrecovery/

I was given a contact of someone involved in the program who was able to give me a lead to a park that has nesting woodpeckers...the only caveat...a six mile hike, possible knee deep water, and 90 degree highs. So off I go to Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park in Orange County. Basically its a big park with unimproved trails. The preserve is managed by The Saint Johns River Wildlife Management District. Their description of the park is here:

http://www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/halscott/

The nesting sites are well marked, and there are active sites near the back of the park. Bur they have been seen all around the park. You just have to keep your eyes open. Click on any of the pictures below to be taken to the gallery.

Red-cockaded WoodpeckerRed-cockaded WoodpeckerRed-cockaded Woodpecker

After I got back from that, I met up with my dad and we went to the city/town of Viera and went through their drive park. There were a few normal birds there, and was a good drive. It is similar to Merritt Island Refuge, but it was one of those places that can be hot or cold....mostly what we saw close up were Alligators and a Loggerhead Shrike.

Final day birding was a little park that I saw on the way home from the funeral that I went to. I remember in the back of my mind that someone suggested that I visit this place...and that I needed to wear a hat...I couldn't remember why though. Having only a few more hours before time to pack up and get ready to leave, a visit to Helen & Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary in Rockledge was my last birding stop. The Sanctuary is managed by the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program of Brevard County. The website for the park is here:

http://www.brevardfl.gov/EELProgram/Sanctuaries/HelenAllanCruickshankSanctuary

When I got there, and saw the signs...I knew what it was I was supposed to see...and why I needed the hat. :-D the Florida Scrub Jay is a endemic species, meaning it lives in Florida only...and it is very...very sociable.

 

Florida Scrub JayFlorida Scrub JayFlorida Scrub Jay
Florida

A short video on why you have to wear a hat...maybe I can get a product placement check from Waffle House. :-D

Florida Scrub Jays in action.

The last bird in Florida,  was a bird that I got in Arizona, way of in a field. Loggerhead Shrikes are all over Florida. Usually you can see one on a telephone wire every mile or so. My problem all week had been getting one close on some sort of tree or snag. Finally one landed on a snag and posed for me as I was heading out of the sanctuary.:

Loggerhead ShrikeLoggerhead ShrikeLoggerhead Shrike
Florida

Well, that's about it. For the week I had 110 species and 18 life birds. Two or three life birds I only had views of, so I will have to try again for pictures. If I were to go again JUST to go birding...I would take a month, and travel all along the west coast...and down to the Keys...but that is for when I am retired. :-D.


 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/12/east-coast-birding Sun, 04 Dec 2016 14:18:17 GMT
Heading East https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/heading-east After spending two days on the west coast of Florida, it was time for me to head east. While on the west coast, I had a lot of support from two birders, and I would be amiss if I didn't give a shout out to the two birders that really helped me out on the West coast.

Vincent McGrath, my guide for Monday, is a birder that is not looking for check marks on a list, he is more into the experience, and being outside. He showed me around Sanibel Island, as well as took me around to some of the inland sites to find things like Burrowing Owls and my first Florida Scrub Jay. Some of the places we went to were slow at the time we were there, but that's birding. :-D

The second birder that was able to help me a lot was David McQuade. While I never met him personally, he was able to tell me of a lot of places that I could go on both coasts to find birds that were on my life list as well as put me in contact with an east coast birder who knew where to get a hard to find Woodpecker. (More on that next week.) David REALLY helped me out on my third day as I headed east. Every place I went on that day was on his recommendation.

So with all of David's places to go, and when to go to them in hand, I was off...and I went a whole 20-30 miles to my first stop, Harns Marsh. I had visited Harns Marsh with Vincent earlier in the week...at the wrong time of the day. Thanks to David, I was able to get there at the right time of the day and go to the right area of the 4 mile marsh to pretty much pick up everything I was missing from my needs list. Harns Marsh is a stormwater control site and is maintained by Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District:

http://www.myecwcd.net/harns-marsh/

They published a brochure that you can print of if you are going for a visit...:

http://www.myecwcd.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/HARNS-MARSH-BROCHURE.pdf

HOWEVER, the few birds listed there are just some of the local full time resident birds. For a full list of all the birds, animals, reptiles, and insects that can be found there visit here:

http://www.birdpatrol.org/Harns_Marsh.html

I had 41 of the 197 birds listed there. Most of the list depends on the time of the year, and the level of the marsh. Here are a few of the life birds that I saw while there. Click on any of the pictures below to be taken to that species' gallery.

LimpkinLimpkinLimpkin
Florida

 

Snail KiteSnail KiteSnail Kite
Fort Myers

Grey-headed SwamphenGrey-headed SwamphenGrey-headed Swamphen
Florida

 

 

 

The above is a Grey-headed Swamphen, is from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to southern China and northern Thailand. Asia, It was introduced to North America in the late 1990s due to avicultural escapes in the Pembroke Pines, Florida area. State wildlife biologists attempted to eradicate the birds, but they have multiplied and can now be found in many areas of southern Florida. As of 2013, it is ABA (American Birding Association) countable.  While it is doubtful that they will become the scourge that House Sparrows have become, it does give warning to those that wish to bring non-native species into this country...DON'T.

 

 

 

While I could have stayed at Harns Marsh all day...I still had a lot of miles to cover, so it was off toward the next stop on my list, a cattle farm out in the middle of nowhere...no, really a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere. It also happened to be on my way. A couple Crested Caracaras were known to local birders to roost in a particular tree in a particular field. This is one of those times where having a local birder letting you know where to look is really important. While the bird is recorded on eBird, the field is wide and there are multiple places where they could be roosting. But David was able to show me where the particular tree was that the Caracara roosted. So I able to see the bird and continue on.
Crested CaracaraCrested CaracaraCrested Caracara
Florida

 

The next stop was on the east coast at Fort Lauderdale...in a grave yard...yup, the places keep getting weirder and weirder. However the bird I was looking for was worth it. There are only a handful of warblers that I don't have, mainly because they are mostly west of the Mississippi. So when I heard that a Black-throated Grey Warbler was in the area, I knew I had to add it to my list of target species. These Warblers are a Western Species, and must have gotten blown over to Ft. Lauderdale. It had already been there for over a week, so I was worried that it might continue flying south before I could get to see it. Fortunately it liked where it was. David who was on the West coast was able to tell me the exact tree to look in to find this tiny warbler. I did have help from another couple of local birders spotting it.

 

Black-throated Gray WarblerBlack-throated Gray WarblerBlack-throated Gray Warbler
Ft. Lauderdale
While there I also got to see a Spot-breasted Oriole.

 

Spot-breasted OrioleSpot-breasted OrioleSpot-breasted Oriole
Florida
I did try a few other places, but by the time I got there the birds were pretty much done for the day, so I headed on to my hotel. I needed to rest up for the next day...which I will talk about next week. For the three days, I had 99 species, 16 of which were life birds.

 

Here is a slide show of most of the birds I was able to take pictures of:

 


 

Next stop Brevard County. :-D

 

 

 

Sola Deo Gloria

 

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(SJLaRue Photography) Florida Wildlife bird birding sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/heading-east Wed, 23 Nov 2016 17:50:06 GMT
Bands On The Run https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/bands-on-the-run Bands On The Run

 

When I go birding, I always look for birds with bands on them. This was one of the first things I was interested in when I seriously started bird photography. A Hudsonian Godwit was at Big Island Wildlife Area in Marion Ohio, with a white flag that turned out to be a tracking device. Through reporting that band, I learned about efforts to discover the migration patterns of Godwits.

 

Most banded birds just have a silver government bands that you have to recapture the bird to read them.

Banded birdBanded bird

(I didn't see this band till I got home, or I would have tried to take some sharper pictures of it to try and pull the numbers off of it.)

 

Other birds have bands that are more colorful, and can be identified from a distance...or from photographs later. Piping Plovers for instance have a series of colored bands that identify them as to where and when they were born, and even to which set of plovers were their parents...all from a series of bands.  Here is a picture of a piping plover that I saw here In Ohio.  From the band information given to me by the Great Lakes Piping Plover Project, it hatched in the summer of 2016 at Whitefish Point, MI. It was banded by the University of Minnesota crew, stationed for the summer at the University of Michigan Biological Station. 

Banded PloverBanded Plover

I usually only see one bird with a band...if I even see them at all. So when I was at Bunge Beach Florida, I was enjoying the spectacle of shorebirds feeding on the beach, I saw a familiar plover with the familiar leg bands. Click on any of the pictures below to be taken to the individual species gallery. :

Piping PloverPiping PloverPiping Plover
Florida

Then a few yards away I spotted another with different band colors:

Piping PloverPiping PloverPiping Plover
Florida
Being a banded Piping Plover, I happened to already know the probable bander was the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort so I emailed them directly instead of using the traditional USGS bird band reporting site.

They fed back to me that the Orange flagged bird was one that they had banded :

“The plover with an orange flag has an interesting story. He's one of the chicks that was captive-reared in 2014 after one of the parents disappeared (probably caught by a Merlin) and the nest at Point aux Chene, MI was abandoned. When that happens the eggs are collected and given a second chance in our captive rearing facility at the University of Michigan Biological Station near Pellston, MI. After the eggs hatch, avian-specialist zoo-keepers raise the resulting chicks in captivity until they are flying well. They are then released near wild-reared chicks of similar age. He was released at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on North Manitou Island. I'll attach a photo I took of him shortly after he was released. He returned to breed at Port Inland, MI. Good to see that he's still doing well.”

So this bird, if it were not for people concerned about the recovery of the species...would have never lived.  Its nice when you can get in touch with the banding, sometimes the bird has a story all its own.

The second plover I received a report on a little later.  It's blue flag marked it as a bird that was from another banding project in Nebraska.

Here is the write up from Mary Brown of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska:

“Hi Steve, thanks for passing along the information and photos. This is one of our birds from the lower Platte River in eastern, Nebraska. The bird was originally banded as a 2-day old chick on 16 June 2011 at a lakeshore housing development in Dodge County, Nebraska. If you see any other plovers wearing light blue flags, please let us know,..”

That is definitely my most western shorebird bird that I have photographed on the Eastern half of the US.

 

But my list of banded birds do not end there.

While photographing the plovers, a group of Red Knots in winter plumage flew in almost right beside me. Within that flock were two that had leg bands.

Red KnotRed Knot 690Red Knot<br/>Florida

Red KnotRed Knot JH9Red Knot<br/>Florida

Bird 690 was banded in South Carolina in 2015 as an adult and seen again on a beach near where it was banded in 2016.  Bird JH9 was captured and banded in 2008 in New Jersey and has been recaptured almost yearly till 2012 It has been sighted as far north as Iles de la Madeleine in Quebec, Canada. My sighting is as far south that it has been sighted, and is the first its been sighted since 2012. It was my oldest banded bird for this trip.

There are lots of websites discussing the banding of shorebirds, here are the ones that were involved with the birds I spotted on this trip:

The South Carolina Shorebird Resighting Project's site:

https://www.crbo.net/SC_Shorebird_resighting_project.html

As well as the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture project's blog post on Red Knot banding.:

http://acjv.org/red-knot-banding-season-is-here/

The Great Lakes Piping Plover Project has a blog:

https://glpipl.wordpress.com/

Along with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The pictures at the bottom look like the same plover I found again this year...probably on the same beach. :-D :
http://ternandplover.unl.edu/plover/winter-plover.asp

Next week I finish the West coast and head East.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Florida Knot Piping Plover Red Wildlife bird birding sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/bands-on-the-run Wed, 16 Nov 2016 19:45:38 GMT
Florida Is The Place For Plovers https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/florida-is-the-place-for-plovers I was given the opportunity in late October to travel down to Florida to attend a Memorial service for my grandmother. She was a beautiful God fearing Christian woman who wanted to be buried with her husband in Florida. My work allowed me 3 days off, but I also was able to take another three days vacation. So I decided to go down and see how many life birds I could get in the week I was down there.

 

However, since I was going into uncharted waters, I needed to get as much info as I could so that I could make the most of my week. Florida is a big state, with many places to go birding. I had a general idea that I needed to spend some time on both coasts, but where were the best spots for the birds I needed? In an effort to narrow down my area, the first thing I did was send out feeler emails to my Ohio bird watching email listserv and Facebook group to see if anyone could give me some direction as to the better places to go...I got close to 100 replies. I was able to narrow it down to three areas in Central Florida.  The east coast was Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Area. West coast was Sanibel Island/Ft Myers area. In inland central Florida there were a few places mentioned that I would check out only if I couldn't find what I was looking for elsewhere, but I never got the time to go check them out...something for later I guess :-) . Also among the responses were a couple Florida birders that follow our Ohio email listserv. They were able to give me some more local spots around Sanibel and Fort Myers area to check out, and one offered to give me a driving tour of some of the better ones...I love locals :-).

 

In the week I was there, the weather was simply beautiful. My local birdwatcher/guide told me that the week before, the temperatures were in the 90s, I had one day in the upper 80s.

 

So with 5 days of birding ahead of me, the chase was on. I had many experiences that I want to write about. I struggle to decide what to write about first. So I guess, I will start out with the birds that I REALLY wanted to see and photograph.

 

There are a few shorebirds that are found in Florida that do not come up to Ohio, so I really wanted to focus on getting them. Two that I wanted to get were Snowy and Wilson's Plovers. According to eBird, both are found around Ft Myers. However one, the closest Snowy was an hour north of Ft Myers on Siesta Beach, and the Wilson's is found a little south of Ft Myers on Bunche Beach (which I found out from the locals is best only during low tide.) So I needed to plan the day so that I could get both birds with the focus on being at Bunche during low tide.

 

One of the things that comes up again and again for watching shorebirds in Florida was to watch the tides. Here in Ohio, I never have to worry about the pull of the moon...except maybe Lake Eire and "Full Moon Fever" at work :-D. But in Florida, everything around the water, centers around the tides...from birds to shell collecting, everything is centered around the tides. So if you want to see the shorebirds that rely on sand/mudflats for foraging...you have to be there as the tides are receding.

Tide chart for October 25th 2016Low Tide marked in blue.

So with the tide chart in hand, I planned to go north in the morning and end up at Bunche at late afternoon...which was actually perfect since my hotel was on the same road as and only a mile away from Bunche. ( I had not planned this, my only concern was cheap comfortable room near Sanibel Island.)

Snowy Plovers at around six inches long are one of the smallest shorebirds. In the US, they breed mainly on the Gulf coast with pockets of them found out west, inland. They like wide sparsely vegetated beaches, and blend in really well along the undeveloped white sand dunes of Siesta Beach. It took me over an hour to find them, and I had almost given up when I nearly stepped on them. Fortunately for both me and the plovers, a Sanderling flushed and I looked down.

Just Chillin' On The BeachJust Chillin' On The BeachJust Chillin' On The Beach

 

In the picture above, there are six Snowy Plovers, a Ruddy Turnstone, and a Sanderling. All just chillin' on the beach. Here are a few closeups of the Snowy Plover. Click on any picture below to be taken to the gallery of all the pictures I took of the species.

Snowy PloverFirst Year/Juvenile Snowy PloverSiesta Beach FL Snowy Plover Chillin'Snowy Plover Chillin'Siesta Beach FL Snowy Plover Stretching OutSnowy Plover Stretching OutSiesta Beach FL

The Wilson's Plover is about six to eight inches long...which is roughly the size of the Semipalmated plover that I am used to in Ohio. It is a coastal breeder The big glaring difference that makes it stand out from it's plover brothers & sisters is is bigger bill.

Wilson's PloverWilson's PloverBunche Beach Florida Wilson's PloverWilson's PloverBunche Beach FL Wilson's PloverWilson's Plover shakin' it off! :-)Bunche Beach Florida

 

Both these birds are in somewhat declining populations due to habitat loss. In fact, the only reason why either of these species continues in the Gulf is thanks in large part to the conservation efforts of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Wildlife Refuges, with a few pockets protected by private landowners and improved zoning regulations along Florida's beaches and dunes.

For more info on what you can do as a tourist/birder/photographer the Florida FWS has posted a few things in their website as well as a PDF brochure.:

http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2015/march/24/shorebirds/

Shorebird PDF

Basically keep out of posted nesting areas, don't harass the birds, keep your dog on a leash, and pick up after yourself to reduce scavenger predation...pretty simple stuff, although I would add to keep a good eye on your kids at all times as well, but you should already be doing that ;-) .

While these were my primary plover targets, I was able to see four other plover species:

Killdeer (not photographed)

Black-bellied Plovers

Black-bellied PloverBlack-bellied PloverSiesta Beach, FL

Semipalmated Plovers

Semipalmated PloverSemipalmated PloverSiesta Beach, FL

and Piping Plovers

Piping PloverPiping PloverBunche Beach, FL

Bunche Beach/San Carlos Bay Preserve is owned by Lee County, and their information page can be found here:

Bunchee Beach

Parking is $2 an hour, and there is a place for kayaking..I really should have stayed here an extra day. :-D

Siesta Key Beach is in Sarasota and their page is here:

Siesta Key Beach

FREE parking! I found the better shorebirds on one of the side parking areas instead of the main groomed beach.  Even though there were plenty of Terns and Skimmers taking a break on the main beach, the shorebirds found the beach apes too distracting, so they were hiding/chillaxing in the less developed dunes to the north of the main beach.

Here is a link to The Great Florida Birding Trail, to help you plan your trip to some of Florida's birding hotspots:

The Great Florida Birding Trail

...more about the Piping Plovers and other banded birds I saw next week.

 

Until then,

 

Solo Deo Gloria

 

 

 

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(SJLaRue Photography) https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/11/florida-is-the-place-for-plovers Thu, 10 Nov 2016 20:01:27 GMT
Um...Curlew? https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/5/um-curlew That is exactly what two words started almost the entire Biggest Week In American Birding to be moved to a little small flooded field southwest of Toledo in Springfield Township.

Um...Curlew?The Picture that started it all.

Let me back up about two hours.  As I was leaving my little town of La Rue Ohio for some bird watching up at Magee Marsh on the East side of Toledo, I got notification that one of my Facebook friends liked a picture of a Red-necked Phalarope on the South East side.  I had seen one before, but my pictures were terrible, so I decided to see if I could get a good picture of it.  A quick search and find of the address, and I was on my way.

 

As I arrived local birder Matt Anderson had just left. (Although at the time, I didn't know who he was.)  I parked where he was and scanned the pond.  I thought I saw the Phalarope, but I couldn't be sure due to the lighting, so I moved so that the sun was to my back. Turns out it wasn't.  but I went ahead and took pictures of everything so that I could scan later for things I missed.  I returned to my truck and gave a quick scan through the pictures.  A couple of Short-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Dunlin, weird looking Dunlin...wait...what?  the picture is blurry, so I get back out of the truck and refind the weird looking Dunlin...definitely not any sort of color morph of Dunlin that I know of,  but I am still just a part time birder with only 336 life birds, and 312 Ohio birds...However, that 312 Ohio birds means that I have seen about every "normal" Ohio bird.  The only birds I haven't seen are single birds that are only here for one or two days every five to ten years or so...and this was like nothing I had ever seen before, so I knew it was not a normal Ohio bird.

 

So now it's time for documentation shots:

Picture of mystery bird showing bill, chest, back, and butt.

Comparison shots for size and distinctive features.

 

Mystery bird with Short-billed Dowitcher, showing color and bill variations.

Mystery bird with similar size and shape Dunlin

Mystery bird with Dunlin and Yellowlegs.

And a Glam shot.:

Then I went back to the truck and compared them to the shorebirds on my phone app (I have both Audubon and Sibley on my phone.)  I went through everything and the only thing I could come up with is Curlew Sandpipier...But I have been known to be wrong before, and sometimes pictures are wrong, so I do what I always do, post a cell phone picture of the back of my camera to the Birding Ohio Facebook page for confirmation of ID...see top.  Thinking that everyone would be out birding and that it would be a while, I began shutting down everything and got my GPS set for Maumee Bay to see what was there...

What followed..was CRAZY.  Checking before I got on the main road let me know that the ID was correct.  Matt was already back, shaking my hand and saying "Congratulations!"...but why the big fuss...oh well, I'll just keep heading East and figure it out later. By the time I got to Maumee, Tweets had been posted, my picture of my picture had been shared on the Ohio Rare Bird Alert and posted on the big screen at Maumee (which I didn't know until later.  If I had, I would have gone over and given them a better one. :-D) Buses of people were skipping their planned tour and heading for this little flooded field.  People were passing up on a KIRTLAND'S WARBLER for the Curlew Sandpiper...I didn't know it was on the wrong continent I didn't even know it was an American Birding Association(ABA) Code 3-Rare bird...I was too busy being up to my elbows in wet sand.

I didn't know that this is what it was starting to look like over at the flooded field:

Birders looking for the Curlew SandpiperPhoto by Leslie Sours (Photo by Leslie Sours)

I didn't have even a glimpse of the magnitude of this find until Kim Kaufman posted this on my original picture...:

...oh dear...having experienced a rare(ish) bird at my own feeder, I knew that the poor farmer was in for an interesting couple of days.

I continued on my planned trek and did the Ottawa Auto Tour before calling it a day and heading to Blackberry Corner for some quick photo editing, a shrimp basket and a piece of lifer pie!...and THAT was when I had an inkling that it was bigger than I thought it was.  People were seeing my pictures and coming up to me and asking if I was the one who found it..."Yeeeah"I said tentatively.  What followed was a half hour of sharing stories, and Glorifying God...and a sneaky paying of my bill. :-D

The next two days can only be described as the birding equivalent of being a rock star.  Everyone was either congratulating me, or telling their friends that I was the one who found the Curlew Sandpiper...Saturday is when I found out through Tom Bartlett that there were only 4 or so of these birds ever reported in Ohio...I also found out that so many people had gone over that a news crew was there.: http://www.wtol.com/story/31971611/birders-in-town-for-spring-migration-flock-to-springfield-twp-after-rare-bird-spotted

I was glad to hear the testimonials from other birders that made their way up right after work or dropping their normal tour route to go see it.  The best one had to be what someone sent me in my email:

"One gentleman came up beside me with his scope, found the bird, then announced:   "I drove up from Huntington, West Virginia.  This has been my nemesis bird for the past 15 years.  In the past I have driven up to 9 hours to try to see this bird, and when I get there, it is gone.  A lifer!”"-Jenny Bowman

Birders were helping others, older helping younger(and visa versa). For most the Curlew was a lifer, for some, it was one of many lifers.  From what gathered later, most people behaved and a good time was had by all.  It was also good to hear that people were coming for more than just the Curlew.

While reports are still being entered into the eBird webiste, so far 290 reports have been made by 253 birders...meaning for some, once wasn't enough...probably more like people leading tour groups. :-D At last report, there were 80 members of the ABA reporting it. Since not everyone eBirds or (like me) belongs to the ABA, the best estimate of the amount of people that visited this 1/4 mile strip was anywhere from 800-1500 people.  One suggested that it was probably more like 2500, but I think that is a bit high. :-D

I am thankful that God changed my plans that day...even though there wasn't a Red-necked Phalarope...and apparently it was a misidentified Wilson's Phalarope. I am also thankful that He put people in place who knew the enormity of the sighting. Also that this little gift was given for many more than me to enjoy. To Him goes all the glory.

Solo Deo Gloria

 

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(SJLaRue Photography) Curlew Ohio Sandpiper bird birding life https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/5/um-curlew Wed, 18 May 2016 22:31:38 GMT
Lawrence Woods 2016 Spring Birds and Animals https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/5/lawrence-woods-spring-2016 Well, Spring has sprung at Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve. Most of the migrating birds that nest here are dealing with territorial disputes with the local year rounders. The reptiles are coming out of hiding and starting to soak up the sun. And the mammals are out and about as well.  Here are a few things that I have seen this Spring.

 

First a couple of the migrating through birds.  These birds breed in Canada, and migrate through Ohio...some stop over, some continue on north. The Rusty Blackbird is one of those that is migrating from somewhere further north.  It is listed as a Vulnerable species...meaning that at present, their population is on the decline. You can find out more about them and the work trying to understand their decline here: http://rustyblackbird.org/ .

  Rusty Blackbird

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are a woodpecker that poke holes in trees to get at the sap. When you see anywhere from 5 to 10 holes in a row on the side of a tree...a Sapsucker has been there.  Sometimes they stay for winter...sometimes they continue south.  This year two were seen in The Woods, below is a male.

 

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   

One of the local birds is a Hairy Woodpecker.  It looks similar to a Downy Woodpecker, but bigger in both body and bill.

Female Hairy Woodpecker

Prothonatory Warblers are my personal favorite...their call is SWEET! SWEET! SWEET!  they are listed as Least Concern, but here in Ohio, their breeding grounds are threatened. The nest in swampy/wet forested areas in old cavities left by other birds and bird houses that were designed for them.  Lawrence Woods generally supports one pair a year.  Below is a male.

Male Prothonotary WarblerSWEET SWEET SWEET!

The Warbling Vireo is a plain looking birds with a wonderfully melodious song. They are one if the birds that go south for the winter.

Warbling Vireo   

The Ovenbird is a Warbler that is rather large as warblers go.  You usually see them on the ground eating spiders and other small bugs.

Ovenbird

The Black-and-white Warbler gets its name because...well..it's black and white. :-D

Black-and-White Warbler

And now my second favorite bird. The Cerulean Warbler is the bluest warbler.  It is listed as Vulnerable as well. Lawrence Woods usually holds a couple of nesting pair.  They love the high canopy trees and usually you have to look WAAAY up to see them.  Without the high trees that Lawrence Woods is known for..they would have to look elsewhere.  I bring this up because just today a person suggested that they needed to come in and log the place...I gently explained to him that the reason why the trees aren't turned into furniture is because of this beautiful bird...hopefully he and his family got the point. :-D

Male Cerulean WarblerAm I Blue?...

Every once and a while you are just walking down the boardwalk and you see movement out of the corner of your eye.  Sometimes its deer, sometimes another bird...This time it was a Mink! MinkCan you see me?

Share the boardwalk with the wildlife. :-D

Mink"How much Further to the pond?"

And finally, possibly one of my favorite snakes a Common Watersnake will crawl up on the button bush and take in the sun. Similar to the Lake Erie Watersnake, they are not poisonous...but they do bite when picked up...so no touching. :-D

Common WatersnakeCatching some rays!

EXTREEAM closeup. :-D

Common Watersnake CloseupSmile!

Well, that's it for now...except to remember most of our State Nature Preserves are just that; preserves. Lawrence Woods is one of the only places in Ohio where Heart Leaf Plantain grows, Many birds and animals can be found in it's confines.  So please be respectful to the park, and others visiting the park by taking out whatever you take in and if you find someone else's trash please pick it up if you can...within the rules of the preserve of course.  so far this year, I'v picked up bottles, cans, fast food bags...and a CAKE!  Who throws away a WHOLE CAKE!

Anyhew, have a great Spring.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2016/5/lawrence-woods-spring-2016 Mon, 09 May 2016 22:51:33 GMT
Chincoteague Part 4...The Last Of The Birds https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac4 Well, I finally got the rest of my bird pictures finished...It's a lot harder when you have to work during the week. :-D  Lots to go through.  Here are some of the better ones.

 

10. Willet are a shorebird that Ohio gets some passing through in the Spring and Fall.  At Chincoteague/Assateague, they nest in the same beach areas that the Piping Plovers do, but they nest in the grassier areas...and while some birds like the  Plover feign illness to lure you away from the nest...Willet do everything but smack you across the head When you get too close. :-D  So if you see one of thes acting aggressive, kind of like the last two pictures, best just back away...you are too close. ;-) WilletWilletChincoteague VA 7/1/2015

WilletWilletChincoteague VA 7/1/2015

Willet parental figure defending nest site.

11. Black Skimmers are one of those weird looking birds that are really cool.  They LOOK similar to Terns, and they are part of the same Order (Charadriiformes) and they both eat small fish.  However, Terns will fly around and dive bomb into the water.   Skimmers, skim along the water with their lower bill in the water, just waiting to snap closed when a minnow can't get out of the way in time.

12. Speaking of Terns...:-)  below are a couple of Sandwich Terns, they are a coastal Tern that isn't seen in Ohio.  They were hanging out with a group of other Terns, Skimmers and Gulls right near the end of the day.  I didn't know what they were till I got back home.   I thought they were some other tern species I had seen before.  But the yellow tip on the tip of their bill distinguishes them from others. These were rather far away and I couldn't get closer due to the Plover breeding area, so this will have to do till I go to the coast again. 

The Sandwich Terns are the ones on the far right.

The following birds are birds that I had seen before.  But I still had a blast photographing them.

 

13. Laughing Gulls...In Ohio we have thousands of Ring-billed Gulls and maybe one or two Laughing Gulls.  Along Chincoteague and Assateague...It's the exact opposite  Laughing Gulls are EVERYWHERE fulfilling every beach scene, sandwich stealing, video reference you can muster...and we saw maybe two or three Ring-billed Gulls.

14. Marbled Godwits we see in Ohio every spring and Fall, but it was cool to see these...plus apparently I saw more than they usually see in late June/early July, so I got to set a new high count on eBird for them in June/July. 15. Brown Pelicans are in Ohio once every ten years or so, and Chincoteague had about a dozen of them.  They are not as prevalent as they are in the southern states.  But we did see some every day we were there.

16. Black Vultures are in portions of Ohio. They are similar to their cousins the Turkey Vulture, but missing the ugly red head.  They are also slightly smaller, and the underside of the wings are patterned differently...But they are part of God's cleanup crew, just like their more recognized cousins. :-D

Last one...whew. :-D

17. Brown-headed Nuthatch.  I didn't include it with my lifer pictures just because...well...I normally would throw this away.  but I needed one for the records.  This and three other birds that are in the region just give me a reason to go back in the spring. :-)  We don't get these here...unless they get blown in from somewhere.  so I will have to make another trip to find a better subject.

Bird wise, that is it. 53 species, 10 lifers. Next time...the other wildlife that we saw while there.  Until then...

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Assateague Chincoeague Virginia Wildlife bird birding sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac4 Sun, 19 Jul 2015 03:28:26 GMT
Chincoteague Part 3...Ibis, Ibis, Ibis https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/3ibis Ibises are interesting wading birds.  Instead of catching fish with their bills like others in their order (Pelicaniformes), they use their bill to probe for insects and shellfish in the mud.  In the US we have three of the nearly thirty Ibis species.

When I went to Chincoteague, one of the birds I went for was a White Ibis.  In Ohio, they have been reported twice in the past ten years.  So I don't get to see those at all. Even though they were at the northern edge of their range, they  turned out to be rather plentiful.:

7. White Ibis White IbisWhite IbisChincoteague VA 6/30/2015 White IbisWhite IbisChincoteague VA 6/30/2015 White IbisWhite IbisChincoteague VA 6/30/2015

Another Ibis that resides there is the Glossy Ibis.  In the US, they are found along the east and south east coast.  But we get them occasionally here in Ohio during migration.

8. Glossy Ibis in flight.

Glossy IbisGlossy IbisCincoteague VA 6/30/2015

When I got home, I was looking through the photos and got a surprise.  A White-faced Ibis was feeding with the Glossy Ibis.  Looking at the range maps for White-faced, they are not normally seen in that area. Usually they are east of the Mississippi, we get a couple of them every year in Ohio during migration.  But they are usually gone within a couple of days.  So it was a surprise to me that it was there.  I asked the Birding Virginia Facebook group if one had been reported recently, and it turns out that like Ohio, one or two get reported every year.  There was one that had been reported in the spring, but not recently. This one is probably the same one reported earlier in the year.  A White-faced Ibis doesn't really have a white face...weird I know. :-D  It has some white feathers around its face...but the Glossy Ibis have a similar band.  The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that a White-faced has pink eyes and a pinkish face.  I guess if you look at it from far off, it looks sort of white...

9. White-faced Ibis feeding with two Glossy

Glossy & White-faced IbisGlossy and White-faced IbisCincoteague VA 6/30/2015

That's it for now. :-D  I have one more round of birds to post as well as one for some of the other local critters.  Until then...

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Chincoteague Glossy Ibis Virginia White White-faced Wildlife bird birding https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/3ibis Sun, 12 Jul 2015 22:10:29 GMT
Chincoteague Vacation Pt 2 https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac2 Well, I have a few more of my pictures of the wildlife ready from our recent trip to Chincoteague Island in Virginia.  My first post is here just in case you missed it.

I saw a lot of different Herons and Egrets while I was there.  Some like the Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Green Heron, and Great Blue Heron live here in Ohio.  So on this post I will share some of the pictures of the Herons I saw.

4. Little Blue Herons are medium sized herons.  Larger than Green Herons, but smaller than the familiar Great Blue Heron.  The juveniles are almost all white, and can be confused with some of the egrets, but Little Blue Herons have blue bills and blue on the tips of their feathers.

Little Blue HeronLittle Blue HeronChincoteague VA 7/1/2015 Little Blue HeronLittle Blue HeronChincoteague VA 7/1/2015

Juvenile Little Blue Heron Juvenile Little Blue HeronJuvenile Little Blue HeronChincoteague VA 7/1/2015

5. Snowy Egrets are medium sized egrets, about the same size as the Little Blue Herons mentioned above.  they have bills with yellow around the base and yellow "slippers" (feet)...unless they are breeding, then the bill and feet are more red than yellow.

 

Snowy EgretSnowy EgretChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015 Snowy EgretSnowy EgretChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015 Snowy EgretSnowy EgretChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015

6. Tri-colored Heron was the other Heron I got to see.  They are a medium sized Heron that are larger than the two above, but smaller than Great Blue Herons.  They look similar to Great Blue Herons, but Tri-colored Herons have a white belly, and a darker neck...as well as a few different facial features.

Tri-colored HeronTri-colored HeronChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015 Tri-colored HeronTri-colored HeronChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015 Tri-colored HeronTri-colored HeronChincoteague Island VA 6/30/2015

Next post will be about the Ibises that we saw there...including a "chance" encounter with one that isn't seen there very much.

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac2 Wed, 08 Jul 2015 19:26:19 GMT
Chincoteague Vacation https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac One of the great things about working for one of the major auto manufactures is that in July I get a paid week off work while the plant does major projects that can't be done while production is happening.  Usually I stick around the house and just chill, but this year since one of my daughters was at camp, and my other is all growed up, I decided to take my beloved on a trip to the East Coast and get some shorebirding in.

eBird was showing my target birds all over the eastern shore, so I needed local knowledge to narrow it down. I made a general inquiry on my Facebook birding pages of where would be a good place to get some shorebirds that would be still within a days drive (9hrs), and not OVERly touristy.  Chincoteague Island and the barrier island Assateague located in both Maryland and Virginia are better known for their ponies, but it was suggested for the birds I was looking for.  Assateague is a National Wildlife Refuge, and the shorebirds have free reign over parts of the beach during breeding season.  Barriers of pipe and rope are erected over parts of the Island that are considered above the high tide line, so that the birds can nest and human activity is minimized.  This is mainly for the Piping Plover, but other shorebirds use the areas as well.  Once the birds have fledged, the areas are opened back up for human activity.  Here is the NWR's page for the refuge: Chincoteague NWR .  Here is the Chamber of Commerce Website as well, they have lots of info for places to stay and eat etc.: Chicoteague COC .  If you have a bike, bring it...or rent one while you are there...It will help out on the paths.  Plus you can leave your car at the hotel, and bike anywhere on the NWR...for free...except where it is closed to all human activity. ;-) 

We stayed at the Chincoteague Inn.  VERY no frills.  If you wanted to be waited on hand and foot...you might want to investigate somewhere else. :-D  This place has coffee...and that's about it.  But the rooms are clean, and they were the cheapest on the island for the days that we were there.  they also had a microwave and fridge.  There are not very many places to eat breakfast on the island...except for those higher priced hotels' continental breakfasts...There are a couple of places, but I would bring some fruit and cereal...JIC.  Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert is a different story...Go to Capt. Zack's...nothing was bad there but the wait.  Ask any of the locals about other places to eat.   There are a few other really good places, but I never left Capt. Zack's , and Pico Taqueria (EXCELLENT Tacos!) :-D

On to the birds.

I was there for two days, and picked up 10 life birds in very short order.  Plus I got some pics of birds I had seen before, but only fleeting glimpses.

Here are some of my better bird pictures in no particular order.  I have tons more that I am still going through so I will make another post of them later.:

1. Least Tern

At less than 12 inches, it is a very small Tern by comparison to other Terns.  In the pictures on the left of it is a soda straw.  I left it in there to show scale...(I would have Photoshopped it out otherwise.)  The eggs are about the size of a malted milk ball.  they are flying around the refuge defending their nests, and feeding along the shore.

Least Tern On NestLeast Tern On NestChincoteague VA 6/30/2015

Least Tern On NestLeast Tern On NestChincoteague VA 6/30/2015 Least Tern Eggs On NestLeast Tern Eggs On NestChincoteague VA 6/30/2015

 

2. Piping Plovers are an endangered/threatened species which is the reason for all of the habitat preservation measures being taken by the NWR.  While walking in an area that isn't in the protection zone, I happened across a family of them out for a stroll.   This is one of those birds that I came here for, so I was thankful that God directed some into my path. :-) .  They are in the same family as Killdeer, and there babies look real similar...but these are less noisy. :-D  Full grown, they are about the size of a baby chicken.  The first two are full grown, the last is a newly hatched chick.

 

Piping PloverPiping PloverChincoteague VA 6/30/2015 Piping PloverPiping PloverChincoteague VA 6/30/2015 Piping Plover Hatchling Piping Plover HatchlingChincoteague VA 6/30/2015

 

3. American Oystercatchers are one of those birds that area a little weird looking.  But do rather well there.  They probe the wet sand and mud flats for things like small crabs, mussels, clams and of course, Oysters. :-D  Several of these birds have "bracelets" or bands on their legs, they are there to help researchers learn about demographics, movement, habitat requirements, and survival.  So whenever I see a band, I always report it to the USGS. They report it to the bander, and send me a certificate when the bird is matched up to a particular band. I saw two different ones while I was there. According to the AMOY Working Group, there are about 3000 banded.

 

American OystercatcherAmerican OystercatcherChincoteague NWR 7/1/2015 American Oystercatcher With Leg BandsAmerican Oystercatcher With Leg BandsChincoteague NWR 7/1/2015 American OystercatcherAmerican OystercatcherChincoteague NWR 7/1/2015


That's it for now...more to come later.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Chincoteague Virginia bird birding shorebirds sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2015/7/chinvac Sun, 05 Jul 2015 02:53:01 GMT
Where ARE YOU??? I can't SEE YOU! https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/where-are-you-i-cant-see-you Do you see it?  One of the most secretive birds in the US.  It is as big as a small chicken, and loves to hang out in wetland areas hunting frogs and small fish.  Chances are, you will not know it is there until you accidentally flush it from its hiding spot. (:-D That is how I saw these by the way.)

Can you see me?Can you see me?

Here, I'll zoom in a little do you see it now? A small white smudge near the middle of the image.

Here I am! Right here!Here I am! Right here!

Still just too hidden to really make out.  So I will zoom in all the way:

Least BitternLeast Bittern

A Least Bittern.  A common bird in the Eastern US.  But due to it's secretive nature, it is not really seen that much.  They live in the cattails and primarily hunt frogs and fish. Since they cling to the stalks of the Cattails, they can get to  places that other classic water waders can't or choose not to. 

Least BitternLeast Bittern

 

The bittern's first best defense...is to do nothing. Flight and fight are not what a Bittern is known for.  More like FREEZING is what they do....then flight if the threat continues towards them.

Least BitternLeast Bittern

Which is why they are never really seen till they are flushed.  They have seen you already, and have already frozen...hoping you go another way.  But when you don't they fly to another spot and freeze again.  Sometimes, as the picture of the juvenile demonstrates below, the new spot is not always the most hidden.  But usually in a few seconds they are diving deeper into the weeds and becoming impossible to find.

Least BitternLeast Bittern

 

So when you are in a area with a patch of Cattail...look deeper, there may be someone looking back at you. :-D

 

Click on any of the pictures to go to my Gallery of Least Bitterns.  Also, if you would like more information about this elusive bird.  It can be found on Cornell Labs' website All About Birds.

Here is a link to the Bittern.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Big Bittern Island Least Marion Ohio Wildlife bird birding sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/where-are-you-i-cant-see-you Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:16:30 GMT
Of Avocets...Part 2 https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/of-avocets-part-2 Well Summer is in full swing here in Ohio.  Corn is tasseling, Tomatoes are starting to blush, and the Peaches...oh my are they sweet and juicy! 

You would think that this would be a time for the birds to take it easy, but they are not.  Song birds are feeding working on their second...and in some cases third brood of chicks, raptors are patrolling the skies, and the Canada Geese are making a mess of things...as usual. :-)  There are also birds beginning their migration journeys...the "Fall" migration of shorebirds actually BEGINS in July.  So I begin checking flooded fields and wetlands as well as my state's listserv, and the weather radar as soon as July 1.

Yes I check the radar...it's not just for rain.  You know when the weather forecaster shows a picture of the city and says that all the green you are seeing is "ground clutter"?  That clutter is usually birds or bats. Here is a link to the USGS center in Fort Collins discussing the use of RADAR and migration.  You can actually see this if you go on the the National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Image Loop map.  Starting around 9 pm check the NWS' National Mosaic Map .  You will begin to see blooms of colors all over the map. That would be them. :-) You will not see them in an area where there is a storm due to the NWS filtering out the "clutter", so that the storm will show up better.  Below is an example that I captured from a couple of days ago.

Bird Blossoms

At my local patch was one of those rare little surprises that you only get to see once and a while...and that I hadn't seen since I was in Arizona.  You can read about that trip here.

(As always, select any of the pictures below to go to the gallery.)

An American Avocet was reported at a wetland just a few miles up the road from me at Killdeer Plains.  They will usually be found along the coastline of Lake Eire on their way to the Eastern coast, and all parts South.  Sometimes you will see one or two along the sandy beaches of lakes...when they are not being harassed by humans and dogs...and the occasional Eagle. :-)

American AvocetAmerican AvocetAmerican Avocet Killdeer Plains, Ohio American AvocetAmerican AvocetAmerican Avocet Killdeer Plains, Ohio

 

There are also Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs galore out there. The Greater and Lesser both look about the same...except the Greater is larger.  The bill is a little bigger, the legs are chunkier, and the body is bigger.  Here is a picture of a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs battling for a spot. :

A Pair Of  Lessors FightingA Pair Of Lessors FightingA Pair Of Lessors Fighting

 

The Semipalmated Plover is another little shorebird passing through right now. The bird is about the size of a baby duck, and look similar to a Killdeer.  So much so that you could confuse them for babies especially since they often hang out with Killdeer.  Killdeer are part of the Plover family, but they are not the same.

Semipalmated Plover:

Semipalmated PloverSemipalmated PloverSemipalmated Plover

 

Killdeer:

KilldeerKilldeer

Ruddy Turnstones are also on their way down.  You will find these in sandy shoreline areas as opposed to the flooded fields and wetlands.

Ruddy TurnstoneRuddy TurnstoneRuddy Turnstone

 

These are only a few of the shorebirds starting to make their way down.  So keep an eye out for some of God's winged wonders heading south for vacation. :-D

Please share, and Have a great day!

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) avocet migration plover shorebird turnstone yellowlegs https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/of-avocets-part-2 Mon, 04 Aug 2014 19:48:42 GMT
Spaghetti Stuffed Sausage https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/spaghetti-stuffed-sausage Well, I said that I would try it and report back. I shared a blog post on Facebook way back at some point of spaghetti stuffed hot dogs. Of course I searched all over my facebook page and couldn't find the original share but I found another example of it here.  To me, bland boring hot dogs being boiled in water, makes them blander...if there could be such a thing. :-D  So I decided to rework it my way. :-D

 

First getting rid of the bland dogs.  I saw this at my grocery store and figured that it should be pretty good with a tomato sauce.  You can use any sausage you want...well almost any.  You want sausages that have been precooked, like your favorite smoked sausage, something like the kind in the picture below, one of those summer sausages, or even andoue. I imagine you can use something like a bratwurst too, just not RAW. It must be pre cooked, then at least partially cooled so that you can handle it. You will need about a pound for 4 people.  this was 12 oz...but I was serving 3 so it was perfect.  The amount of cooking time will not be long enough to fully cook the raw sausage...bad mojo there. :-D

 

Use your favorite "cooked" smoked sausage.

Next you eat with your eyes, and nothing to me is worse than that boiled hotdog look, so after slicing the sausages in 1" pieces, I browned them in a little bit of oil.  Then let them cool to touch.  This part is optional, I just like the color of it when it is fried.

Brown in Olive Oil to add color.

I got in a hurry and forgot to take pictures of me stuffing regular sized spaghetti noodles into the sausages...but the regular size spaghetti will go through the sausages without any issue.  I don't know about things like angel hair, but I  imagine that if you are really gentle, it should go through without any issues.  I have also seen them stuffed with different macaroni style noodles, so I would think that the sky is the limit with your noodle selection...except maybe shells...yeah that won't work too well. :-D

 

Another problem I had was that my sauce pot was too small to fit the spaghetti in so I preboiled them a little so that they would be limber enough to go into my sauce pan...about 1-2 minutes should do...you want them to be just limber enough to go into your pot without breaking...I had a few casualties there...2 minutes is probably the best...either that or a bigger sauce pan. :-D

 

Boil till limber enough to go into your sauce pan.

This is them in my 2 quart sauce pot...yeah too small...but it worked. They just fit in there.  Once they started cooking, they settled in quite nicely.  I imagine if I do this again, I would do it in a large skillet or maybe as a crockpot dinner.   Now the other important thing here is that you MUST keep your heat low to keep your sauce from sticking to the bottom of your pan.  Also you must resist the urge to stir the spaghetti...I got a few more casualties  from that as well. :-D  That is why I think this will go better in a crockpot. ;-)

The sauce is a mixture of freezer sauces that I had left over.  A homemade meat sauce and a homemade marinara sauce, plus a bout a cup of tomato sauce for the liquid.

Simmer Till Done

The noodles soaked up the liquid from the sauce and the sausage finished cooking.  the cooking time for the spaghetti was 8-10 minutes at a boil. The sausages cooking time was 8 minutes as well, so it was all done at the same time. I was just simmering the noodles so the cooking time was longer...about 12-15 minutes.    when the noodles are done, you are done.  I tested them by pulling one out, and if the noodle didn't break off, it was cooked through...there was a few casualties there as well.  I then tested the noodle by eating it. :-D

 

Below is the finished work of "art". :-)  Sorry for the messy plate.

A little crusty bread, some Parmesan Cheese, and some fresh herbs will elevate this...but I didn't have any of that so I just dug in.

 

 This serves three, but there were only two eating lunch today, so more for me. :-D It was delicious!

 

I would cook more spaghetti to go with the dish because I thought it needed more noodles. that also spreads the meat out so you could serve more with it if you wanted to.

 

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) food sauce sausage spaghetti stuffed tomato https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/8/spaghetti-stuffed-sausage Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:50:32 GMT
Heavenly Bodies https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/heavenly-bodies There is more to God's Creation than just plants and animals...Wait...did I just say that? :-D

To just focus on the thousands of birds, animals, flowers, and bugs, will ignore the MILLIONS of stars above us.  How important are the heavens (stars and Moon) to God's creation?  He spent an entire day creating them. (Gen 1.14-19)  Which is the same for plants, sea creatures, and land creatures.  All of those millions of stars, He gave the same attention to  as He did  all of His creation here on Earth.

Milky Way and TrainMilky Way and TrainMilky Way and Train

The only other part of creation to have more time and attention is Man itself. Reading the scriptures, It seems that God spent only a few hours of the total time spent on Creation, creating man...But it can be argued that He spent the entire six days on Man.  First by providing a place to live, then light to see by, then food to eat for both man and the animals, then the vast expanse of stars and planets so that he can tell time and dream of touching them, then the animals.  After all that, after all of that, He created Man to rule over it all. 

Milky Way and GraveyardMilky Way and GraveyardMilky Way and Graveyard

We are a a mere speck in the universe, only a few seconds when compared to the rest of Creation.  But God cares more about us than the rest of Creation.  All the stars, planets, moons, bacteria, bugs, plants, reptiles, birds, mammals, etc..are all for man to use to Glorify God.  So on a clear night, get out away from city lights, stop out on a country road, get out and look up...and just marvel at it all...and as always...Solo Deo Gloria (give all glory to God and Him alone), and thank Him for His creation.

Worm's Eye ViewWorm's Eye ViewWorm's Eye View

All pictures were taken at an old graveyard, just outside of my town, that any other time I wouldn't be caught dead in. :-D  Click on any picture to go to the gallery.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Creation God Graveyard. Stars https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/heavenly-bodies Sun, 29 Jun 2014 23:43:24 GMT
Summer Birdin' Havin' A Blast https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/summer-birdin-havin-a-blast Just because it's Summer, doesn't mean that birding has to end.   In fact the locals are out and singing, hatching and feeding babies, and as with everything; bringing honor and glory to God and His creation. 

So here are some of my late Spring and early Summer birds.  Click on the image to go to the galleries.

 

Dickcissels seem to be some of the last that show up.  But their song to me announces the start of summer.

DickcisselDickcisselDickcissel

 

Sandhill Cranes are one of the biggest US birds. Their call sort of reminds me of gargling :-D.  I have been trying for well over 5 years to get pictures of...well to get GOOD pictures of. :-D Sandy Ridge Reservation near Cleveland has a pair of them that nest there.  They have not had any chicks yet, but it is not for the lack of trying. :-D (If you go to the gallery, you will see them in action...just a warning. ;-) )

 

Male Sandhill CraneMale Sandhill CraneMale Sandhill Crane

The Blackbirds were having nothing to do with the Cranes...They want them away from their nesting sites...NOW! :-D

Male Sandhill CraneMale Sandhill CraneMale Sandhill Crane Female Sandhill CraneFemale Sandhill CraneFemale Sandhill Crane

 

American Coots are interesting birds.  They don't like to fly, and their feet are weird looking...but they have cute little chicks.  See the one sticking its head out below. :-D

American Coot w/ ChickAmerican Coot w/ ChickAmerican Coot w/ Chick

 

Bald Eagles...what can I say.  Awesome birds that are making a comeback!  I took this picture and several others up at Sandy Ridge when I was there with the Cranes.  It was chased off by a Canada Goose and looked like it was landing to regroup.  But the Wood Ducks weren't taking any chances. :-D

Bald EagleBald Eagle Flushing Some WoodiesBald Eagle

 

Red-shouldered Hawks are another one of the birds that I have been trying to get.  Fortunately there was a nest closer to me than the cranes. :-)  These are a couple of the Juvenile birds that have left the nest, but are still relying on the parents to bring them some food.  However, they are learning hunting skills for life on their own.
Juvenile Red-shouldered HawkJuvenile Red-shouldered HawkJuvenile Red-shouldered Hawk Juvenile Red-shouldered HawkJuvenile Red-shouldered HawkJuvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

 

The rest so far this summer have been some of the small super fast insect eating Swallows.  First is the Purple Martin. Though these will nest in natural cavities, you see them most in the backyard bird condos.  I saw this one up at Lakeview Beach in Loraine.   I like the houses that they used...might have to get some. :-)

Purple Martin; MalePurple Martin; MalePurple Martin

Cliff Swallows nest in mud nest that they build one ball at a time.  You will mostly see them in colonies under bridges...and cliffs of course. These were taken at Hoover Reservoir, North of Columbus Ohio.  They nest at the dam and under the bridges.  So you can get up on top of them and try to get some of them in  flight...but they are very very fast.:-D

Adult Cliff SwallowsAdult Cliff SwallowsCliff Swallows

Baby Cliff Swallows and Adult FeedingBaby Cliff Swallows and Adult FeedingCliff Swallows

The last two nest in cavities that they burrow out of soft mud and sand on steep hillsides. And they sort of look alike.

Rough-winged Swallows are cute little flyers that I find out along the roadside near creeks.  this one was a few miles from my house here in La Rue over at an Amish farm.  They are sort of sandy in appearance and have a rough edge on the edge of their wing...hence the name. :-)

Rough-winged SwallowRough-winged SwallowRough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallows live in burrows built in ...wait for it...banks. :-D (and/or piles of gravel. :-) ) These were at a gravel pit an hour from my house.  the owner let me on the property so that I could get closer pictures...it's always good to ask.  The worst that can happen is the owner saying no...If you don't ask, the worst that can happen is a butt full of buckshot...so ASK!

I have Bank Swallows here...but finding their nests are very difficult here...and I wanted to get some nesting action. So I added it to my list of birds to get one day since I was in the area anyways. :-)

 

Parent conference.

Bank SwallowBank SwallowBank Swallow

Coming in for a landing!

Bank SwallowBank SwallowBank Swallow

As always click on a picture to go to the gallery...Tons of pictures. :-D

Get out there and enjoy God's creation.  Birds, frogs, snakes, Summer flowers, butterflies, bugs, and spiders are all out there each doing their part to glorify the Creator.

 

Sola Deo Gloria

 

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(SJLaRue Photography) https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/summer-birdin-havin-a-blast Mon, 23 Jun 2014 03:54:17 GMT
Of Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/tracking-down-a-blue-grosbeak God has many creatures in his creation.  Some from afar look very similar but when studied up close, are almost completely different.

Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings are members of the Cardinalidae family.  The most recognized of this species (for most of the United States) is the Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal; MaleNorthern Cardinal; Male

The word "Grosbeak" comes from the French grosbec or "large beak."  And brother, does it have a big beak. :-D But it needs that big beak to crush seed shells and insect exoskeletons.

Blue Grosbeak's traditional breeding areas are in the lower 2/3rds of the United States/Southern Ohio, but have slowly been moving into Central and Northern Ohio...Which is a good thing, because I don't have to take a day off to knock it off my photography life list. :-D  For the past few years, I have seen Blue Grosbeaks pop up on the Ohio Birds Listserv, and Cornell's eBird down at the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.  So I got up early and headed down...I had business in Columbus anyways, so why not combine the two.

The Blue Grosbeak is an average sized blue bird with an enormous..make that HUGE silver bill, and a chestnut brown colored wingbars.

 

Blue Grosbeak:

Blue Grosbeak; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioBlue Grosbeak; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioBlue Grosbeak

I just love the main color of this bird; Blue...deep Blue, so blue that if the light isn't hitting it the right way, it's almost black. And check out that BILL!:

Blue Grosbeak; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioBlue Grosbeak; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioBlue Grosbeak

Sometimes it gets confused with the more prevalent Indigo Bunting which is blue, and has a short and stubby bill for crushing seed hulls.   But it is smaller all around, the songs are different, the head has a different profile, the bill is a lot smaller, and the wings are blue and not brown like the Blue Grosbeak.

 

Indigo Bunting:

Indigo BuntingIndigo BuntingIndigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioIndigo Bunting; Batelle Darby Metro Park, Columbus OhioIndigo Bunting

Also I have noticed that Indigo Buntings will sit up on top of a tree and sing...where the Grosbeak preferred staying in the shadows or on lower branches. They both live in the same sort of territory: grasslands, with trees, but Indigo buntings also like forest edges and as mentioned before they like being out in the open, up high.  For example, both of these birds above were photographed within a mile of each other, but the Bunting was in a high treeline surrounded by grass prairie (I was on a overlook when I took those pictures.)  The Grosbeak was in a shorter scrubbier "grove" of trees surrounded by the same prairie.  I have seen Buntings in lower weeds and small trees, but they were usually feeding.

The best way to find Blue Grosbeaks is to listen for them and start looking in the shadows. For Buntings, listen for the song, and look up.

At present time here in central Ohio, you will probably see Indigo buntings more than a stray Grosbeak, but as the years progress, it looks like the Blue Grosbeak might start showing up more in central Ohio wildlife areas, like Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area and Big Island Wilderness Area(my home areas)...if they are not here already. :-D

The Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting are two of God's amazing flying creatures that on the surface seem the same, but when compared side by side there are sometimes subtle (like where they prefer to hang out), and sometimes...glaring (like a big honking bill) differences.  But each one of those differences is important to the survival of that species...JUST LIKE YOU! I am not like you, and...thankfully for your sake, you are not like me. :-D  Hopefully, we glorify God in different ways. Some of us are subtle and in the shadows, lifting one another up.  While others are on top of the mountains singing and bringing encouragement to the world...and that makes for an interesting rock to live on. :-D


Sola Deo Gloria

 

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(SJLaRue Photography) Blue Blue Grosbeak Bunting Grosbeak Indigo Indigo Bunting Ohio bird birding sjlarue wildlife https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/tracking-down-a-blue-grosbeak Mon, 09 Jun 2014 04:23:51 GMT
Protonotary Nesting Activity https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/protonotary-nesting-activity Well, I took my kayak out today and did a little PROW (Prothonotary Warbler) censusing at Big Island Wilderness Area. The Barn Pond (My name, it isn't really named on the map but it is the pond on LaRue Prospect that is behind the white barn) and Unit B (Where the duck blind is.) Both of these are on Larue-Prospect Rd

The PROWs had been very quiet this year, usually I can hear them from LaRue Prospect in the Oxbow, but due to all the high water, some of the normal nesting spots were under water. So I was a little worried that numbers were going to be lower this year. Turns out there was almost two DOZEN! (16; 12 in the Barn pond, and 4 in Unit B.) Males were singing everywhere and there were females either in the nesting cavity, or gathering food. So it was a good day. I wasn't able to get deep enough into the woods due to vegetation...and no hip waders, or there probably would have been closer to 20-24.

Here area few pictures from the day (click on them to go to the gallery.)

 

Prothonotary Warbler With Food

Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary WarblerProthonotary Warbler

 

Female Prothonotary On Nest

Female Prothonotary on NestFemale Prothonotary on NestProthonotary Warbler

Male Prothonotary

Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary WarblerProthonotary Warbler

 

Male Singing

Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary WarblerProthonotary Warbler


Plus some video:

 

Sola Deo Gloria

To God Alone Be The Glory

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(SJLaRue Photography) Area Big Bird Island Marion Ohio Prothonotary Warbler Wildlife photographer pond sjlarue https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/6/protonotary-nesting-activity Sun, 01 Jun 2014 14:53:06 GMT
Bell's Vireo https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/bells-vireo I heard about a Bell's Vireo being at Big Island Wilderness Area Near Marion Ohio, and since it was my last Vireo for Ohio/Eastern US, I got up early to see if I could relocate it.  Pretty neat little bird...not the shiniest, or the most colorful, but still one of God's wondrous creatures.

A Bell's Vireo is a small, drab colored, insect eating bird of the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Not Ohio :-D ).  It is found in the dense vegetation of scrubby woodlands, old fields, or mesquite brushlands.  It is similar to the Warbling Vireo, which is located all over the US, and the Philadelphia Vireo which is is more of a northern US Vireo, but migrates through Ohio.  The best  way to distinguish Bell's Vireos from the rest of the Vireos is their song.  For more info see Cornell Lab of Ornithology's page.: Bell's Vireo

(Click on the images to go to the gallery.)

 

Bell's Vireo
Bell's Vireo; Big Island Wildlife Area, Marion OhioBell's Vireo; Big Island Wildlife Area, Marion OhioBell's Vireo Bell's Vireo; Big Island Wildlife Area, Marion OhioBell's Vireo; Big Island Wildlife Area, Marion OhioBell's Vireo

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Bell's Vireo Big Island Marion Ohio Vireo Wildlife bird birding https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/bells-vireo Tue, 27 May 2014 20:02:16 GMT
Magee Marsh Birding Wrap Up https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/magee-marsh-birding-wrap-up  

Well Spring in Magee Marsh is over for me...now I am just basically staying within Marion County....unless a rare bird shows up somewhere. :-D.  It has been a very interesting spring for migration.  Lots of great birds.  Here are some of the final pictures from this year.  Feel free to share this with others.

(Click on image to go to gallery)

Male Prothonotary Warbler

Male Prothonotary WarblerMale Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary Warbler

 

Female Prothonotary Warbler Preening

Female Prothonotary Warbler PreeningFemale Prothonotary Warbler PreeningProthonotary Warbler

 

Canada Warbler
Canada Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OhioCanada Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OhioCanada Warbler

 

Mourning Warbler
Mourning Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHMourning Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHMourning Warbler Mourning Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHMourning Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHMourning Warbler

 

Female Yellow Warbler On Nest

Female Yellow Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OhioFemale Yellow Warbler; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OhioFemale Yellow Warbler

 

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHCommon Nighthawk; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie OHCommon Nighthawk

 

Sanderling

Sanderling; Magee Marsh, OhioSanderling; Magee Marsh, OhioSanderling

 

Swanson's Thrush
Swainson's Thrush; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie, OhioSwainson's Thrush; Magee Marsh, Lake Erie, OhioSwainson's Thrush

 

White-faced Ibis

White-faced IbisWhite-faced IbisWhite-faced Ibis

 

Sola Deo Gloria

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(SJLaRue Photography) Magee Magee Marsh Ohio bird birding https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/magee-marsh-birding-wrap-up Tue, 27 May 2014 00:49:32 GMT
White-faced Ibis! https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/white-faced-ibis While up at Magee Marsh this weekend, we saw a White-faced Ibis out in Metzger Marsh, an area of marshland near Magee.  I love it when I don't have to leave Ohio for lifebirds!

(Click on photo to go to gallery)

 

White-faced Ibis

Whie-faced IbisWhie-faced IbisWhie-faced Ibis

Sola Deo Gloria

To God Alone Be The Glory

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(SJLaRue Photography) Ibis Marsh Metzger Ohio White faced https://www.sjlarue.com/blog/2014/5/white-faced-ibis Sun, 25 May 2014 00:35:09 GMT