Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unofficial Birding Day at the Falls

The official events calendar at the Falls of Ohio said Saturday would be Archeology day, and sure enough, the Falls of the Ohio Archeology Society was in full swing with atlatl demonstrations, a sandbox "dig" for children, pottery shard examination. Good stuff.

However, the real action was on the Birding Deck. When I arrived, several Beckham Bird Club people were set up with scopes, watching the shore birds on the far fossil beds. Some photographers with Mount Palomar on a tripod set up shop down on the fossil beds. You see, it finally rained on Friday, not too hard, but the first we've had for more than a month, and the skies were still low and gloomy. Perfect weather to see who was sheltered along the river. Before the morning was over, a group from Audubon Society of Kentucky in Lexington arrived for an outing.

Remember, mother nature designs shore birds to be invisible as much as possible. At that distance, any small bird I can see looks like a Killdeer to me. My birding friends have sharper eyes and better scopes though, and the list they compiled was truly outstanding-- Ruddy Turnstone, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmate Plover, Black Bellied Plover and Sanderlings. By carefully squinting through my government issue scope from the Falls, I could see movement, but darned if I could tell what those mud colored birds on the mud colored rocks were!

I did OK with the bigger birds though. A pair of noisy Kingfishers chased each other up and down the river. We don't normally see Snowy Egrets at the Falls, just the larger Great Egret, but this summer, one came to visit, and I saw it too yesterday. The Caspian Terns were soaring, and a few Ring Billed Gulls checked out the accommodations for their winter lodgings. As I drove down the road to the Falls early in the morning, a Peregrine swooped after a Dove, but despite the poof of feathers, breakfast got away from him. The Vultures found something dead, and their buffet was crowded. An Osprey flew over several times, and I found a Kestral through the scope. Shovelers, Mallards, Cormorants and Canadian Geese completed the list. When a group of canoes pulled ashore, all the birds took off.

Constant chirping in the bushes led me to look for the noise maker, and I found this bald headed Cardinal fledgling. Kind of late to be fledging, isn't it fella? Mama was nearby, and he has enough feathers to fly apparently, but this one will want to stay hidden for a while till he looks beautiful. Hope he grows fast before cold weather arrives.

In the woods, some warblers flashed by. Fall warblers, shudder. The Black and White Warbler was a sure ID. Yeah! Another really small bird looked like a Kinglet. A third warbler had a lemon yellow belly and spot on his rear. The book says this would be an immature Magnolia Warbler. Everyone else was warbler olive-yellow, and I had no chance to ID them. I disrupted some Chickadees and Tufted Titmice were searching for bugs, so they chastised me.

My final bird was big - yellow bill and dots on the bottom of his tail- a Yellow Billed Cuckoo! Not the most flattering picture, but I wasn't sure anything would come out at all! You don't have time to accomodate photographers who come pishing at you by posing in the sun when you are busy eating bugs.

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