July 8, 2013  -  Chasing 200 - Part I  - Woke up yesterday morning with a singular goal. Get to 200! No, not dollars. Not an admirabl...

ON LOCATION - Indian Mound Reserve - Cedarville, OH

July 8, 2013

 - Chasing 200 - Part I -

Woke up yesterday morning with a singular goal. Get to 200!

No, not dollars. Not an admirable bowling score. And not my cholesterol level (though that might be a good target for me - mmm doughnuts!)

The "200" I was chasing was my 200th life bird. If you are new to birding, this number may seem outrageous. If you've been birding for at least a year, you are probably wondering what is taking me so long. Either way, 200 is the goal. And when I woke up Monday morning, I was at 196. 

Thanks to an eBird report from Chris Zacharias I had a destination in mind - Peterson Park near Cedarville, OH. His report included three birds I needed for my list, and there is always an opportunity for something else new.

I plugged Peterson Park into Google Maps on my iPhone and discovered it is about 10 minutes north of Xenia, OH on State Route 42. Grabbed my camera, my hat, and my binoculars and hopped in the car.

Driving down Fairfield Rd. in Beavercreek there was some bird activity along the side of the road. The usual Northern Cardinal, American Robins and European Starlings, but also an Indigo Bunting and a single Killdeer hanging out near the Frisch's Big Boy sign. I almost stopped to take a few photos, but "200" was driving me on. 

It's a nice drive up 42 once you get out of Xenia. Mostly fields, farms, and woods. I spotted quite a few Turkey Vultures and the occasional Red-Tailed Hawk on the way to the park.

Following the directions from Google Maps I drove right past the park. It turns out that Peterson Park is one section of the larger Indian Mound Reserve. Google Maps wants to take you to the center section which is called Williamson Lane. I put my faith in Google and kept driving...

As you pull into the drive there is parking on the right and birds everywhere. Before I even got my binoculars strapped on I had counted 4 Northern Cardinals, 2 Eastern Bluebirds, a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, and a Gray Catbird. A nice mix to start the day.

After applying ample amounts of bug spray (Never, and I mean NEVER, forget to put on bug spray!!) I had to make a choice of two trails. One into the trees, and one down the "No Automobiles" drive. I have always found trees by the roads to have a good number of birds. So down the road I went.

The road runs straight for about 100 yards. Mostly through thick woods and then opens up at the end to cross Massie's Creek. As I walked down the road I heard number 197... Yellow-Billed Cuckoo! I scanned the trees for 20 minutes looking for it, hoping it would show itself long enough for me to get a photo. Cuckoo's are shy birds and seem to like to stay hidden in the leaves. The only problem is I have a strict rule about my life list - No Photo-No Count. It doesn't have to be a "good" photo, I just need to be able to prove to myself (and to others) that I had seen it.

As I was about to move on, it flew from on side of the road to the other and began picking at the leaves high up in a tree. I fired off a couple of quick shots hoping for a semi-focused - halfway exposed ID photo. Got him!

#197 - Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

I continued down the road and stopped on the bridge over the creek. Mourning Doves, Eastern Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and more Northern Cardinals. Lots of activity in the area.

While standing on the bridge I began to question the effectiveness of my bug spray as this friendly flyer continuously landed on my legs - the place I applied the most bug spray. 

Tawny Emperor?

Maybe they are immune... maybe I used bug food instead of repellent... As I followed the turn of the road and startied into the woods on the trail I began to seriously question the spray. Bugs everywhere. Mosquitos, Gnats, strange-flying-things... They seem to like ears. No bites, though! Whew!

I only followed the trail for about half a mile. There is a wooden bridge that crosses back over Massie's Creek and I could see four giant spider webs spanning the bridge from side to side. At that point I had grown tired of walking through giant spider webs and decided to turn back. Found this female Ebony Jewelwing at the end of the bridge.

Ebony Jewelwing (female)

On the way counted 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, 1 Indigo Bunting, 4 House Wrens, 2 Carolina Wrens, 2 Tufted Titmice, 1 Carolina Chickadee, and one of my favorites, an Eastern Towhee.

Figured I would head home at 197 and live to fight another day. When I got in the car I checked my BirdsEye app and saw there was a Eurasian Collared-Dove reported by Cory "Chia" Chiappone further up Rt. 42. Started up the car and headed that way looking for #198 in South Charleston. It would take me 15 minutes to get there. I found #198, but not in South Charleston. I found it before I was halfway there... [More Tomorrow] 

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