Monday, April 21, 2008

Rails, banding, and the first swift of the year

This weekend, I went birding with my friend Brad at Springfield Marsh State Nature Preserve in Seneca County. Our objectives were Sora and Virginial Rail. We arrived about 7 am and were greeted by more singing Swamp Sparrows than I've ever heard in my life. We had a little trouble at first with the rails, trying to call them in with Brad's palm pilot loaded with some birding software. We did get a nice look at a Sora eventually, and heard a Virginia Rail calling. I managed to add a few year birds there besides the rails, including Brown Thrasher, House Wren, Yellow Warbler, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

While we were there, we ran into Tom Bartlett, who was doing some banding with a college class. We got some great close-up views of some birds I couldn't count for my year list due to ABA rules: Ruby-crowned Kinglet and White-eyed Vireo. We also got to admire Brown Thrasher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, and numerous Swamp Sparrows among others.

We then headed to Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, where a friend of ours had seen a bunch of golden-plovers the previous day. We dipped on the plovers, but I was able to add Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin and Barn Swallow to my year list there. Killdeer Plains is (or was) a birding hotspot for north central Ohio, and it's a good place for waterfowl and winter raptors. But it's getting tougher to bird there, as the state DNR has closed the main east-west road through the area and there are no trails.

Finally, I added Chimney Swift to my year and neighborhood list yesterday - had one over the Giant Eagle grocery store as I went in for bread and wine last night!

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