Saturday, September 22, 2007
Ain't Life Grand (Valley)?
Susan and I are racing to see who can get their post up first tonight! She has the advantage of a shorter drive home and a faster Internet connection, but she is working under the handicap of her back-up camera and maybe no software to upload her photos. (I will let her explain the camera crisis.) I had an hour and 15 minute trip home (had to factor in time to pick up my dogs from work) and my perpetual issues with uploading photos via dial-up, so it is even money as to who will win. (Note: Susan won. Of course, she is younger and faster.)
If you can't guess, we went to Grand Valley, aka the Camp Dennison gravel pits. Long a favorite waterfowl spot among the Cincinnati birding community, the pits have always been explored from above, using a spotting scope. Entry was forbidden, primarily as a safety precaution. These former quarries could be quite dangerous, and liability was a concern. Recently, the property was acquired by Indian Hill and the pits were renamed "Grand Valley Nature Preserve." Access was restricted to those with an upscale address, and the No Entrance signs were changed to Entry by Permit Only.
Susan has been steaming about this ever since her illegal (albeit accidental) trespassing episode last year, and my public scolding. (Bossy old me :-P) However, there is more than one way to skin a cat (or pluck a duck?) and tonight, we got into Grand Valley legally. The naturalist there is a friend of mine from Crooked Run Nature Preserve and CNC, and he graciously offered to let me come in whenever he is on duty. Thanks, Dennis, for inviting us in and making us feel welcomed, despite our low-rent ZIP Codes.
I was hoping for waterfowl, shorebirds and some good songbirds. At first, all we got were Mallards, Killdeer and Mourning Doves. But, then we added Blue-winged Teal and Wood Ducks to our waterfowl list, Least Sandpipers for shorebirds, and a sweet warbler who sat low and posed for us in excellent light. Susan cursed her point-and-shoot digital camera with its 2.8x lens, I studied it through my bins and looked it up in my Peterson's, while managing a couple of images with my only-slightly-better 4x zoom. I decided on Prairie Warbler. (Birders, chime in.)
Edit 9/22, 3:25pm: Dr. Zickefoose, Science Chimp and birder extraordinaire, has diagnosed my warbler as a male Cape May, not a Prairie. I forgot to look for the lemon-lime badonkadonk. (Actually, Cape May was my first guess, then I convinced myself I was wrong. No really, it was. I'm not making it up.)
I didn't get any photos of the warbler with a gray head, white eyering, and clear yellow belly. Although I desperately wanted it to be a Connecticut, I am resigned to it being a Nashville Warbler, still a good bird. Other birds seen but not photographed include Pied-billed Grebes, a Turkey Vulture, Chimney Swifts, a Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, crows and coots.
We did have a good case for "Birding CSI." Any idea whose skull this is?
Susan spent an inordinate amount of time photographing a rock pile. Yea, that's blog worthy, Susan. And so attractive.
Reasons why we didn't see more birds:
5) Bad weather/too hot.
4) Dogs and kayakers spooked the ducks.
3) "Birding has been weird all week." (Dennis)
2) I forgot my spotting scope.
and Susan's number one reason why we didn't see more birds:
1) I am a birding jinx. (For the record, I don't think this is true.)