So I have been taking birding fairly seriously lately with my new Eagle Optics Shrikes, 8×40, which are quality glasses at a modest price. Craig Flockerzie (isn’t that a great name for a birder?) recommended them once he knew my budget and status as a beginner. Craig works for Delaware County’s Preservation Parks system and leads their monthly birdwalks.
In early August, shortly after I got my Shrikes, I visited the Scioto Audubon Park here in Columbus Ohio for their beginner’s birdwalk, a good place to start, I thought. We saw many house finches, which I had misidentified as purple finches here around my house (a common error, I was told, kindly), as well as house sparrows, which are the bane of my bird feeder because they are so aggressive that they drive other species away.
Another misidentification I had made (see “Binoculars At Last!,” an earlier post of mine from 2014) was to call the Great Egret by the name of the Snowy Egret. The Great Egret, besides being much larger than the Snowy, is much more common here in Central Ohio. We saw several Great Egrets at the Scioto Audubon that day, and I have seen another lately on the stocked city pond that is contiguous to our condo property. I bless the city for stocking the pond! It brings in waterfowl, both resident and migratory.
A new life bird for me at Scioto Audubon was the Osprey. There is a breeding couple there, with a nest perched in easy sight of us birders.
At the end of August, I went to Blues Creek Preserve in Delaware County for a birdwalk led by Craig Flockerzie. While we were waiting for the group to assemble, I snagged a new life bird: male and female Bluebirds. I have been dying to see one, and now I’ve seen two, and will be able to identify them in the future. I was looking for a cartoon kind of blue, whereas the bluebirds we saw were more understated in color, like this Eastern Bluebird.
Unfortunately, I had to leave that birdwalk before it got properly underway because the weight of the binos, on just a neckstrap, was pressing on my cervical stenosis and causing me too much pain. (See Pain, Parts One, Two and Three). I now have a harness for the binos, which is so much more comfortable!
Then this past weekend I went on my second Delaware County birdwalk, this time to Shale Hollow Preserve. The very first thing that happened was an amazing, protracted appearance by a young Red Fox, who came right up and stared at us. I didn’t have a camera, but a fellow birder, Les, who was there with his wife Cheryl, got this photo on his phone of it running through the woods. He’s way back in there, in about the middle, and is the only thing in focus:
That totally made my morning! I love foxes, but never see any around here, even though we have a very big meadow and woods that you would think foxes would like.
But we went on in search of feathered delights, which was pretty difficult because it was a heavily clouded morning. The bugs don’t come out until the sunshine does, and the birds don’t come out until the bugs do! I’m learning so much…
So these are my new life birds from Shale Hollow last weekend: the Northern Flicker; the Nashville Warbler; the Song Sparrow; and the Field Sparrow. I also heard, but did not see (although others in the group did) a Yellow-Throated Vireo.
After the birdwalk at Shale Hollow, we convened in the really nifty lodge there for a presentation on Fall Migratory Warblers, by one of the Preservation Parks naturalists.. It was very informative, and I feel well-equipped now to identify any migrating warblers I might spot this fall. Here’s a photo of a Nashville warbler like the one we saw in his autumn plumage:
My initial interest in birding was spurred by the waterfowl on our pond, and waterfowl continue to be my favorites. One of the great things for beginning birders about waterfowl is that they are easy to spot and they mostly stand pretty still! 🙂
This morning I got up early enough to those same beloved waterfowl. Our resident Great Blue Heron is still there, I was glad to see.
There was also, at the other end of the pond, among the mallard ducks, a much-smaller Green Heron.
And among our flock of mallard ducks was our blonde mallard hen, who was first spotted this year by my eight-year-old birding neighbor Annabelle. (See my earlier post about Annabelle: “Better Now”)
I found this photo of another blonde mallard hen on Douglas Peterson of Brighton, Michigan’s blog, Brighton Millpond, at words4it.com:
She looks just like the one on our pond!
In walking around our meadow, I added another life bird, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, who was sitting on a top branch of a dead tree, convenient to being spotted from the walking path. Here is one perching on a suet cake cage:
Birding is such a continuing delight for me! If you haven’t tried it, you should. Many park systems offer guided birdwalks at which loaner binoculars are available. Check it out!