July 10, 2013  - Wednesday brought a brief trip to the Ellis Lake Wetlands on Union Centre Boulevard in West Chester, Ohio. Clic...

ON LOCATION - Ellis Lake Wetlands - West Chester, OH

July 10, 2013

 - Wednesday brought a brief trip to the Ellis Lake Wetlands on Union Centre Boulevard in West Chester, Ohio.

Click for larger image

As an Information Technology Manager, I am required to travel to various company locations to go birding do computer work. This year I have been to Cleveland, OH; Hammond, IN; Nashville, TN; and Detroit, MI.

My most frequent road trip, though, is to Cincinnati, OH. To get there I drive straight down I-75 to exit 1F. The school I work at is right at the exit. Consisting of exclusively freeway driving, it would seem as though there would be little opportunity for birding along the way.

This is where the wonderful Ellis Lake Wetlands come to the rescue. Just one exit up from where I stop for gas, and about 8 minutes from the freeway sits this small, but never boring, oasis in an otherwise industrial area.

My first visit back in May provided excellent views of Great Egret, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks. It looked so different then compared to now. The entire area had not yet begun to grow back from the previous fall's cuttings. The corn field on the left was just 3 inch leftovers and the tall grass in the center was barely visible. This made it much easier to see the birds around the water areas. This time, you had to really look for them.

I pulled into the access road and drove down to the cul-de-sac that doubles as the parking area (holds maybe 6 cars). Looking out the car windows I can see lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Great Egrets. I gather up my camera and binoculars and start scanning the area.

1 Great Egret, 2 Great Egrets, 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8... - wait, number 8 looks funny. It's got a black bill and it's smaller, and has black legs with yellow feet... Fire off a couple of photos and figure it out later.

And then I remembered - There was a different type of Egret reported at Armleder park back in May. Remembered seeing something about black legs and yellow feet. Sure enough, Kirk Westendorf reported a Snowy Egret matching that description. Before reporting it on eBird, I wanted to get confirmation. I snapped an iPhone pic of my LCD screen and uploaded it to Flickr.

Then I emailed the Ohio Bird Listserve and asked the members to look at it and ID, if possible. They unanimously responded with Snowy Egret!

#200 - Snowy Egret

I had made it to #200! To make it official, I submitted my eBird checklist. Snowy Egret showed up as "Rare" - nice! I put in my comments about where I saw it, clicked "submit", and silently congratulated myself on the accomplishment.

Hung around for a little while longer to try to get some photos.

While stalking this Green Heron

Green Heron

I nearly jumped out of my skin as a train suddenly came roaring by blaring its horn.

Decided that was enough for me and headed for the car. On the way, a Song Sparrow paused on a branch to see what all the noise was about.

Song Sparrow

Back at the car, a Northern Mocking bird that patrols the parking lot stayed still long enough for a shot.

Northern Mockingbird

I left Ellis quite pleased and went about my day. At around 5:00 PM the "Regional Data Reviewer" from eBird emailed me asking for my photo to confirm the find. In his email he stated, 
"The species is scarce in (southwest) Ohio as you probably know, and most unexpected this early. Post-breeding wanderings are almost annual but not before August."
It made the long journey to 200 much sweeter. To have located a fairly rare species and have it confirmed by the experts, AND have it as my 200th bird was very satisfying...

Now I have to find #201... :-)

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  1. Thank you for visiting this beautiful park! I find that many visitors (probably because the only sign for it is at the end of a turn off between two industrial buildings) aren't aware it's even a park! I live in the area (less than 5 min drive) and it truly is the perfect place to observe flora and fauna! I love that it is so secluded, so there are never many people there at one time, so it is the perfect to just relax at, and the sunsets are amazing, light blues with a mixture of cotton candy swirls and vanilla. I am thankful you have been her, hope you will come again, and I hope that this small area will not be sold or forgotten, it is one of the few areas in southwest Ohio (amid much construction) that remains pure and untapped.


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