East Fork State Park encompasses 4870 acres of land in southwestern Ohio, with a 2100 acre lake created by damming the East Fork of the Little Miami River. Like all state parks in Ohio, there are many ways to enjoy the outdoors here, including swimming, camping, boating and fishing, trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and generally enjoying nature and the out-of-doors. I bird here on occasion, especially after attending a couple of guided bird walks, when I learned the "good" spots.
Today seemed like a good day to be out and about. I left home at 7:15am, in order to get to the lake just after dawn. I started at the south swimming beach, home to dozens of resident Ring-billed Gulls.
They were the first birds I saw, after some crows that is, and were followed shortly after by a Great Blue Heron. (Far right of the above photo.)
While working on getting a decent photo of the gulls, I was distracted by a chipping call from a sapling. Following the sound, I found a small songbird. Its pointy bill and quick movements proclaimed it to be a warbler, and I was prepared with my "Confusing Fall Warbler" excuses - too small, too quick, back-lit, hidden by leaves - when the bird obligingly bobbed its tail repeatedly. Bingo! Palm Warbler, confirmed by good looks at its field marks through my spotting scope. The tail bob behavior is classic for Palms, and it is the way I identified my Life Palm Warbler, a fall bird at Crooked Run Nature Preserve five years ago.
While keeping my eyes on the warbler, I tried to put a face to the new sound over my head. It might be --- could it be? --- Yes, I think it is ---
An Osprey! This photo doesn't do it justice, but it was the only image I could salvage. The digiscoped shots, taken when he teed up on the tree in the lower right, were out of focus, thanks to the slow shutter speeds necessary in the dim light. Cool bird!
After the Osprey, the beach seemed slow, so I headed out to a grassland area that is being managed for turkeys. No turkeys today, but I did have a good walk around.
Most of the birds were LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) that refused to sit still for good IDs. I did have a number of Field Sparrows and a couple of Song Sparrows, as well as a fair number of (non) Indigo Buntings. The males have discarded their brilliant summer blues, exchanging them for plain brown fall attire, but one or two still felt randy enough to sing for me.
New England Asters were in bloom, but my photos were no good. I picked up a new goldenrod, and am still working on the ID.
I think this white flower may be Pearly Everlasting. Anybody have a better idea?
There is one part of this trail which is the birdiest place of the whole prairie. It is in a low depression which is often underwater in the spring, in a spot where the grassland meets the woods. This spot was jumping this morning.
There were cardinals, towhees, goldfinches galore, and yes, I got to use my CFW excuses. (Too small, too far away for my binoculars, too quick for the scope, too many big leaves in the way.)
I stood in the middle of this treasure and took a series of photos nearly 360 degrees, to try to share with you the feeling of being there.
After all the work, it turned out to be too small to convey the sensation I wanted you to feel, so here are a few of the stills.
And yes, I know, the colors are crap. That's the fault of the light, not me and my camera.
One other stop on the way out of the park, at a parking lot commonly referred to as the "two ponds" area, since there are two ponds here. This one is a reliable source for Wood Ducks, and there were two here again today. If you click to enlarge this picture, and if you have a good imagination, you might see them in the distance.
These pitiful photos are why I devote most of my birding time to looking and very little to photography. Maybe some day, a good camera might be in my future.
Wood Duck 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 4
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 1
Palm Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 1