While I was taking photos during the Shoot the Hills photo competition this past weekend, I made sure that my ears were "on" so I could listen for birds. I was not disappointed.
I was absolutely delighted to hear my first Wood Thrush of the season (haven't heard any in our own woods yet), and I also heard my very first Hermit Thrush - EVER! Unfortunately I didn't see either of them, but their haunting, beautiful songs were rewarding enough. The Hermit Thrush should be preparing to head farther north to its breeding territory, whereas the Wood Thrush is just migrating into its breeding range from down south, so I imagine the window of time of being able to hear both of these thrushes on the same day is probably pretty small. How fortunate I was!
I also heard plenty of Phoebes, a Chipping Sparrow kept me in constant company at my campsite, and I was lucky to hear (but not see) the Black-Throated Green Warbler. One of the easier warblers to identify by ear, it has an easily recognizable song of "zoo-ZEE, zoo-zoo-ZEE!" I heard them all over the place, and was happy to be sharing space with them as they make their migratory way through to points farther north. Apparently there were also Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in the area, because several folks captured photos of them, but I didn't see any personally. (The Photographer's Choice winner was an wonderful photo of a Gnatcatcher perched on a blooming Redbud tree.)
One place in the area to stop for some good water bird photography is Lake Logan. The north end of the lake is quite the haven for Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Mute Swans and Canada Geese. I'm sure other birds like it there, too, but these were the most obvious species. I also heard lots of Red-winged Black Birds around, too, but did not spot any of them.
Here's a Great Egret coming in for an awkward-looking landing (please excuse the photo quality - shooting right into the sun here):
Here is a Mute Swan in the middle of flapping his (or her?) wings:
There was also a female Mute Swan on her nest:
... and in mid-preen:
Finally, I got a series of photos of a Great Blue Heron catching his dinner:
Afterward he had to shake it out and got his feathers all floofy:
Only to quickly return to his calm, cool and collected self:
Hocking Hills State Park naturalist Pat Quackenbush informed us that Double-Crested Cormorants and Red-throated Loons have also been spotted at the lake, passing through on migration.
Coming up... wildflowers of the Hocking Hills!