Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Head west, my friend

My "fall" shorebirding season kicked off very well this year, with my spotting of four willet and a marbled godwit in July at the beach at East Fork State Park.  I thought that if I am seeing all this now, I can only imagine what the next couple of months will bring to the beach at East Fork.

Well, as of the writing of this post, not much has been happening shorebird wise at the beach.  There is very little shorebird habitat on the east side of Cincinnati, Ohio.  If a birder were to ask where to find good birds in SW Ohio, I would have to tell them to go west side.  The west side has been on fire!  They have had buff-breasted sandpipers, and even an upland sandpiper!  That would be a life bird for me.

I am not joking when I say that the east side of Cincinnati is lacking in shorebird habitat.  While the west side has mudflats, the east side has asphalt flats aka parking lots.  This photo shows the typical Clermont County shorebird habitat.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Most birders wouldn't expect to find a semipalmated sandpiper in a parking lot, but in Clermont County, what can you say?

The amount of human activity has been high at the beach at East Fork this year.  I am sure that this has had a lot to do with the lack of shorebirds there.  I have only been able to see least and semipalmated sandpipers there, the second most common shorebirds next to killdeer around these parts.  

Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers

But I am not complaining.  I love shorebirds and could watch them for hours.  I love to stand still on the beach and have them feed next to my shoes.  It is amazing how tiny the peeps are up close.  

There has also been a spaddering of terns at the beach at East Fork.  While not anything "rare" for say, there has been a few Forster's terns and caspian terns here and there.  Here is a juvenile from the other day.  I think the young ones are neater than the adults.  Constantly making odd begging calls.

Caspian Tern Juvenile

As things are cool east side, things are STILL hot on the west side.  Baird's sandpipers are also being seen on the west side, a bird that I rarely see, and can't remember if I have ever seen one at East Fork.  

And then...

Comes along a sightings post of a rare bird (for here) that would be a lifer for me.  Last year, I have missed the said bird by one day in Boone, Co. Kentucky.  I didn't want wait around on this one.  While quite the drive for me to Aurora, Indiana, this bird is worth the hour plus drive!

The bird?

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE!!! - Time to go west!

As soon as I came around the bend on the road said to have the kite, I noticed the bird sitting on a dead snag.  Yahoo!  Another birder friend was already observing the bird from his car and exclaimed "are you lost?"  I would have to say yes.  He lives on the west side and was shocked to see me so far out of my area, as I seldom chase.  I had to laugh.

As I got out of the car, I could see the kite preening in a tree in someones backyard.  WOW!  what a bird! Another east side birder friend also shows up.  

Swallow-tailed Kite

Oh Yeah, a life bird!

Swallow-tailed Kite

The bird just sat there, preening for a while.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Love that tail, those wings, those red eyes.  Just awesome.  

Swallow-tailed Kite

I wanted to see the bird in flight, so I stuck around and just watched it.  Kites sure do like to preen.  Then, the bird started to ruffle its feathers.  I think it is about to take flight!

Swallow-tailed Kite

And off it goes!  Awesome! 

Swallow-tailed Kite

I LOVE this bird.  I want one in my backyard.  Its flight was like it was in slow motion.  It was so graceful, a beautiful bird.  

I love that I bird.  I know that you do to.  Remember, to just get out and see birds and also try to bring newbies and young people out with you.  Have fun!


  1. What a beautiful raptor! Thanks for sharing your excitement at seeing it.

  2. Great post, I love the Kite photos! Happy Birding!

  3. Great captures.. Love the raptor. Cheers..

  4. How exciting! And you managed to get wonderful photos of it (where I would've just stood in awe and remembered my camera AFTER the bird had flown). Thanks for sharing!

  5. Congrats!!! I didn't know the Kite Swallowtail came this far north. I saw my first one in Guatemala this summer and it was spectacular! Great shots as well!

  6. Beautiful photos! I haven't ever seen one, hope to seen one soon!

  7. You have taken some beautiful pictures -- sharply focused and vivid.