Greetings! and Welcome to my Blog.  A place for me to share my latest pictures and ramblings. :-D  As always, I give all glory to God, because it is his creation that he is revealing to me.

Feel free to share with your friends.

Solo Deo Gloria

Um...Curlew?

May 18, 2016  •  4 Comments

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

 


Lawrence Woods 2016 Spring Birds and Animals

May 09, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

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


Chincoteague Part 4...The Last Of The Birds

July 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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


Chincoteague Part 3...Ibis, Ibis, Ibis

July 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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


Chincoteague Vacation Pt 2

July 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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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