Wow, here it is August already! Whenever I run into people who know I am doing a Big Year, the first question is always……………….so what’s your number? So let’s get right to it. For the month of July I was able to add 7 new species to the list, bringing my total to 214 for the year. I have 153 more days left in the year to add birds to the list. While that may sound like a lot of time, as I mentioned last month it gets harder to add new species as the year goes by. But there are lots of possibilities out there. One common species that I need is Eastern Screech Owl. I just need to take my tape recorded call to the woods one night! But is there anyone out there who knows for sure where I can find one? Maybe you had a pair nest near you this spring? Let me know.
I did get into NASA Plumbrook twice during July. The first time was to search for the Henslow’s sparrow which had been heard by one of the employees there. We were able to hear the bird, but never did see the bird. But hearing counts too, especially when their song is so distinctive. The Henslow’s sparrow’s song is very brief and sounds like a hiccup. More insect like than birdlike. On the second visit I added Alder Flycatcher and Grasshopper Sparrow to the list. Other new species were Black-billed Cuckoo at Willow Point, Vesper Sparrow at Erie Sand Barrens, and Stilt Sandpiper at Medusa Marsh. The search for the Bell’s Vireo that was reported at Rest haven was unsuccessful on two attempts. This remains a very elusive bird. I’ll keep looking and listening for that one. And the elusive White Pelicans which still remain at East Harbor State Park.
Exploring new places is always fun and I found two areas where I had never walked before. The first was at Steinen Wildlife Area, part of East Sandusky Bay Metropark. I had been there before, but ventured a lot further this time. It’s really a great area for sparrows and butterflies! When we were there we were excited to see 10 Little Sulphur butterflies. This is a species that is not common here. But their host plant is Partridge Pea and we did see a lot of that plant there, so it made sense. Another new area was the section of Resthaven Wildlife area that is near the Castalia Quarry. I started walking in the North Quarry trials, walked a short distance down an adjacent road and ended up in Resthaven! Although I have been in many areas of Rest haven (which is a huge area) I had never walked in this part before that day.
Helping others to find joy in birding is very satisfying and two opportunities presented themselves in July to do just that. Ryan is a young birder who is also a volunteer at Magee Marsh where I use to work. WE finally got together to bird in July and had a great day. When he graduates from high school next year he plans to go onto Hocking College (my alma mater) to study wildlife. He was very interested in nature and excited to see some new birds. I could feel his passion. He will make an excellent wildlife officer or naturalist someday. I also did a program on Birding at the Erie County Senior Center. The audience was very grateful and I enjoyed hearing their bird stories too!
For August I expect to find some more shorebirds. Willow Point, Pipe Creek and Medusa Marsh seem to be the prime habitats for shorebirds right now. Medusa Marsh is called that because of the Medusa Cement company that was there many years ago. But rightfully it should be called Moxley’s Marsh. Ed and Sue Moxley have managed this marsh for over twenty years and it really is looking nice. Also in August the Neotropical birds begin to migrate. Neotropics are birds that spend their winter in Central and South America and come north each year to breed and raise their families. The Yellow Warblers are among the first songbirds to begin their fall migration.
I mentioned the Lake Erie Wing Watch Weekend last month and would like to invite you to check it out. The date is September 20-21 at Osborn Park. The full schedule can be found at www.LakeErieWingWatch.com Again, my primary goal for doing the Big Year and writing these stories is to inspire you to GET OUT and enjoy some of the natural areas that Erie County has to offer. So I hope that you will do that.
Thanks this month go to Mike, Sandy, Sheryl, Paul and Chris. Enjoy answering your bird questions, so keep them coming. Until next month……………….Happy Birding!