March 31, 2015 - Madness? This is… Ohio!(?) Ok, perhaps comparing finally getting my 300th Ohio State bird to the Spartan’s stand aga...

RBS - 300 - This is blasphemy! This is Madness! - by Chris Collins

March 31, 2015 -

Madness? This is… Ohio!(?)

Ok, perhaps comparing finally getting my 300th Ohio State bird to the Spartan’s stand against the Persians is a bit of a stretch, but at times it sure felt that way!!

Seeing 300 birds in Ohio was something I didn’t even consider when I first started birding in 2013. I remember telling someone that I really hoped to get to 100 on my Lifelist that year. By mid-April I had my 100 species, so it was time for another goal. Dare I shoot for 200! I remember wondering if there were even 200 species in Ohio… would I have to go to Florida or something to hit 200 birds?

After meeting Eric Elvert things started to pick up and I finished the year at 232 Ohio Species. Yay… So what about next year? When I mentioned only needing 18 birds in 2014 to hit 250, I was told, “No, on January 1st it all starts over again at zero”. What?!?! – And at that moment another Ohio Lister was born.

Eastern Whip-poor-will - One that got away in 2014
2014 was a crazy year. It is way too much to cover in a single post. Someday we’ll tell those stories (once the Statute of Limitations runs out). Having been bitten by the Listing Bug I was off and running. 100 by January 31st; 200 by the first week in May; 300… never happened. I finished the year with 295 birds for the year, and 297 on my Ohio Lifelist. I only missed two Ohio birds I had seen the previous year: Eastern Whip-poor-will and Brown Pelican.

When 2015 began I set only two goals. I wanted to try to see 200 Montgomery County species in a calendar year, and to get my Ohio Lifelist to 300. As Jacob experienced last year, it gets tougher the closer you get. 

The first addition to the list was a pair of Golden Eagles at The Wilds in Cumberland Ohio. All of the Rogue Birders needed this bird as a Lifer so we made a team effort to get it. Jacob and I picked up Dan and Alex E in Columbus and then met up with Jeremy and Sarah. Shortly after we arrived we hooked up with The Ohio Ornithological Society caravan and began the search. On our second stop we had two juvenile Golden Eagles cruise low over the trees. January 17, 2015 - #298!
#298 - Golden Eagle (Really need a better photo!)
Next up was an awesome Hoary Redpoll at the Ottawa River Interpretive Trail near Toledo, OH. Another Rogue Birder trip with Jacob, Jeremy, and Dan. We followed a small flock of Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins up and down the trail for a few minutes and found the Hoary with very little effort. January 31, 2015 - #299!
#299 - Hoary Redpoll
It seemed like 300 was just a few days away. It took a while longer than that, though. Over the next two months I would start searching for birds that had been reported to eBird in Ohio that I still had not seen. There had been 7: Thayer’s Gull, Ruffed Grouse, Purple Sandpiper, Common Raven, Red Crossbill, Fish Crow, Eurasian Wigeon… All of these birds were either chased and missed (THGU and EUWI – See future post.), unchaseable (PUSA and RECR), a pain in the butt (RUGR), or just too boring as a #300 (FICR and CORA). I wanted something “special”, and hopefully a lifer.

On Saturday March 22nd a Eurasian Wigeon was reported too late in the day to chase, though it had been seen early in the morning. Damn. Then on Sunday morning Jeremy, who is doing an Ohio Big Year this year, drove up and saw the EUWI. Happy to know it was still present, I made plans to try to go see it on Monday. An hour later those plans went out the window when 5 Bohemian Waxwings were reported at Lake Erie Bluffs! Jeremy made a stop in Dayton to pick up Jacob, then stopped in Columbus to get Alex E, and off they went. I didn’t make the trip… It is a 4-hour drive, one-way, and I was fixing a bathroom sink that was leaking. The crew got there and saw and photographed the birds. You can read their story on The Fire Birder. (jerks).

Bohemian Waxwing would make a perfect #300! I decided I was going to go alone on Monday. As someone that works from home, my office is wherever my cell phone and computer are. I decided to have a “mobile” office for the day. I left the house at 4:00 AM. No traffic at that time of day made it a shorter-than-advertised journey and I arrived at the park at 7:40AM. Andy Avram had provided GPS coordinates to the tree they had been hanging out in so I started following my phone to the spot. I looked up and there they were! 5 beautiful Bohemian Waxwings!

Ohio Bird #300 - Bohemian Waxwing
With my mission accomplished, I decided to hang out and try to get some decent photos. Treetop shots are not the most impressive way to shoot a bird. As I wandered around the area I ran into Victor Fazio and Jerry Talkington. They mentioned that the birds would most likely hang around awhile because they had plenty of food sources nearby. This lead me to find the food source and just wait for the birds to come to me. 15 minutes later – success! A photo I am pleased with to commemorate my #300 Ohio Bird.
#300 - Bohemian Waxwing
Note: While I was up there I also snagged #301. Fish Crows are still boring and not a Lifer, but I needed one for Ohio. :-)
#301 - Fish Crow (Obviously, it's on a wire. ha ha)

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