Thursday, June 14, 2007

Going away for a couple weeks

I'm headed out to Massachusetts tomorrow night (getting married next Saturday) and then it's a week in Bar Harbor Maine for the honeymoon. So, no posts for a while.

But I should have some good bird stories when I get back!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Atlasing in Sharon Woods

Today I spent about 3 hours in the morning before work in one of my Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas blocks, which contains Sharon Woods Metro Park. I had a pretty good morning, confirming breeding for Downy Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Baltimore Oriole. I also had a number of new "probables" - Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Gray Catbird, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, American Goldfinch, and last and least, House Sparrow.

Sharon Woods is a mix of habitats, including somewhat mature woods, streamside habitat, open fields, a lake, and lawns with trees scattered here and there. I should be able to get a great deal of confirmed breeders here in the next couple of breeding seasons. I will be missing out on the rest of June due to my marriage in two weeks - I leave for Massachusetts on Friday and won't be back until July. Hopefully some other folks who bird there will also add observations while I am gone.

Willow Flycatcher singing

Wood Thrush on nest with young

Orchard Oriole between songs

A Baltimore Oriole Fledgling, calling in the open and pissing off its parents, which were trying to get it back into cover.

Blockbusting weekend in SE Ohio

I spent this last weekend camping with my bird group in Lawrence County, Ohio. We were participating in an activity called "blockbusting" - which is when a group of birders volunteer to go out and survey a large number of survey blocks for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas that would otherwise get little coverage. We had a great weekend. The camping was good and the birding was excellent.

I was teamed with John Habig, a birder I had not met before but recognized from his posts to the Ohio Birds email list. We surveyed six blocks in 15 hours of birding over two days. We confirmed breeding for 22 species of birds out of 76 observed, including interesting birds like Blue-winged Warbler, Ovenbird, and Orchard Oriole. Our two highlights were a territorial White-throated Sparrow and a territorial Black-and-white Warbler.

The absolute highlight for the group, however, was a find of four Yellow-crowned Night Herons at a farm pond in Gallia county. There are only two other records in the atlas of this species and only one of those is a confirmation (strangely, it seems that the breeding colony in Columbus has not yet been entered into the atlas website application, so that's a total of two confirmed breeding locations). Hopefully, someone will be able to go back a little later and see some fledged young.

I highly recommend participating in breeding bird surveys - it's as fun as birding during migration, and maybe even more of a challenge.