Thursday, April 12, 2018

Between Spring Showers

Red-tailed Hawk
Spring has been so indecisive this year. One day the sun shines and temps are in the 60s or 70s, and the next day a cold front sweeps through, leaving heavy rain and/or snow, with temps back in the 30s. Events scheduled for Saturdays have been hit hard, having been changed twice because of predicted rain all day on Saturdays. This week, we have had a couple days of warm, but very windy weather, so I decided to go out. Local birders are reporting some rare species coming through our area, and I wanted to see if I could find any of them.
Song Sparrow
Beckley Creek Park is a favorite birding spot along Floyd's Fork river, and birders have found several Virginia Rails in the wetlands. I joined a group of people already there, and although I didn't see the Rail yesterday, I did find a Wilson's Snipe all by myself. Yeah! Mostly I found Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds.
American Kestrel
The raptors enjoyed the clear skies, and I saw many Turkey Vultures, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a fast little American Kestrel. Maybe I'll try for the Rail again tomorrow.
The Sora is a member of the rail family too, passing through Kentucky on its way to Canada where it breeds after spending the winter along the Gulf Coast. This one is using the bird observation area at the Falls of the Ohio State Park, just across the river, as a resting spot. It is sheltered from observation, except for people inside the building. There is a little pond and rocks to shelter in. So far, it seems pretty happy there.
Nesting Bald Eagle
4 or 5 years ago, when they started building a bridge across the Ohio River at the eastern edge of the county, an existing Eagle nest was found right by the construction area. Will all the activity affect it? They couldn't really move the planned bridge, so they just started building. Now the bridge is complete, and the birds seem unaffected. She seems to be counting the cars as they zoom beneath her tree.

The river has flooded again in the last week, after the huge floods in March, so people are trying to ge things cleared up. The gates on the McAlpin Dam are still lifted allowing the water to flow through as fast as possible. Debris clogs the sidewalks leading down to the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio, but that's not too much of an issue yet, since the fossil beds themselves are still under water. Management at the state park don't hurry to clear away debris in the spring since it can reappear so quickly.
 The river is still high and so muddy that it looks like milk chocolate rather than water!
The Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May, and the party starts two weeks before the race itself. This year it's starting even earlier since someone erected this giant ferris wheel within the ramp of the Big Four Bridge. The Bridge attracts huge numbers of people wanting to walk across the river. The ferris wheel will be here until after Derby. As soon as there is a nice evening with a good sunset, we plan to go down and ride it too!
Here is the little Sora enjoying an algae snack from the pond.

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