Sunday, January 17, 2010

Birding the Wilds

Yesterday was the Winter Extravaganza at the Wilds, sponsored by the Ohio Ornithological Society. The temps were mild for January, and lots of folks showed up, but our group did not see a whole lot of birds. There was apparently a Golden Eagle spotted in the area, but it was not meant to be for us to see it.

It wasn't for lack of trying, that's for sure. We made many stops on roads close to the Wilds (roads that are actually on land owned by American Electric Power), and searched and searched, but we just didn't see much bird action at all. We did spot a Horned Lark (quite a few, actually), which was a life bird for me. I did a little boogie for it.

This guy. He's awesome. I tell him, "so we're gonna have to leave at, like, 6 a.m. to get there on time." "Okay," he says. Look at him in his Midwest Bird Symposium hat and Bird Watcher's Digest binocular harness. I'm so glad he came to the Wilds to go birding with me!

There were lots of spotting scopes around yesterday, a necessary tool of the trade. Especially when trying to pin down a bird that's somewhere out in the middle of huge expanses of grassland and hills like this...

Before lunch, our group saw Horned Lark, American Kestrel, Eastern Bluebird, European Starling, Blue Jay, Trumpeter Swan, Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph) (AND lifer!), Red-tailed Hawk, and Downy Woodpecker. Folks were hoping for more raptors, but there just wasn't much activity.

What're y'all lookin' at?

There are lots of lakes of varying sizes around the Wilds, but there seemed to be only one that had some unfrozen water, and of course that's where all the waterfowl went. Accordingly, all the scopes were lined up after lunch to observe said water and waterfowl. I could only identify the Canada Geese and Trumpter Swans. Even through a scope, they were still pretty far away, so it was difficult for me to know what else I was seeing (this girl's no good with her waterfowl ID!). I heard folks say there were Ruddy Ducks, Ring-neck Ducks, some kind of Merganser, Mallards, and perhaps a Green-winged Teal.

Oh look, I managed to get photos of some birds! Two Trumpeter Swans, and if you notice the road behind them, there are some Canada Geese to the right of that road. I know... booooring.

Aside from seeing birds, we were able to get some good views of several of the species of mammals that are managed by the Wilds, including a meeting with a very special southern white rhino. Here's a sneak peek:

Stay tuned!


Monika said...

Congrats on the lifers!

I love the shots of everyone looking through their scopes and binos, especially the last one. Sometimes when the wildlife is far away the best photo ops occur when you turn around and look at the wildlife watchers. Great stuff.

I can't wait to hear more about the rhino!

The Early Birder said...

Sounded like a great day birding.
BTW he looks very professional with all the right gear. Looking forward to the next installment. FAB.

KaHolly said...

Thanks for taking us along on your birding trip today. I love the pics of all the birders. I have a folder full of them called "geeky birders". Congrats on your lifers! Where I live, Trumpeter Swans would not be considered boring! ~karen

Meg said...

Oh, the rhino looks wonderful! And what a sweet guy you've got to get up so early on a day off : )

RuthieJ said...

Looks like you had pretty good weather for your birding trip Heather. And you know what they say......a bad day of birding is better than a good day at work! (well, I say that anyway ;-)

Heather said...

Monika - Thanks! Yup, I agree, sometimes the people photos at these events are priceless.

Frank - It was a pretty good day, all in all.

Karen - Ha, I like your idea of a "geeky birders" photo folder. That's great!

Meg - There aren't enough words to describe how magical those rhinos are! Also not enough words to describe how awesome my hubby is!

Ruthie - Amen sister, a bad day birding is definitely better than a good day at work... no doubt about it!

Richard King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard King said...

Good to see some young birders in your group. In Perth it's often like a nursing home excursion! He, he, he.

Heather said...

Richard - I'd say it was a pretty even mix of young and old alike. Is there any kind of organization in Perth available to encourage younger folks to bird?