December 31, 2015 It's the last day of the year. We have so many new posts lined up. Alex and Jeremy's Ohio Big Year; Jacob'...

RBS - Bramble On - by Chris Collins

December 31, 2015

It's the last day of the year. We have so many new posts lined up. Alex and Jeremy's Ohio Big Year; Jacob's Mini Lower 48 Big Year, guest posts, and new features (Tim J!). For now, here's what happened yesterday while seeing the best Ohio Bird I saw this year. Enjoy!!!
Bramble On
by Chris Collins

Who would have thought that December would be so lively. Perhaps it was the warmer weather. Maybe it was the fact that the birding community grows larger every day. Or maybe it was just luck. Either way, December was an amazing month for birding in the midwest.

Green-tailed Towhee - Last Lifer of 2015(?)
After seeing the Western Tanager in Pennsylvania, the Pacific Loon in Indiana, and the King Eider in Ohio, I was ready to wrap up the year and start thinking about 2016. Very happy to have finished the year with 330 species, and 382 birds on my Lifelist. Then a couple of things happened. First, I had to work in Indiana on Saturday, the 26th of December. This gave me the opportunity to land an amazing Lifer at Cane Ridge/Tern Bar Slough. A Green-tailed Towhee somehow made it's way from the southwestern United States to a field in southwest Indiana. A long and boring quick drive to Evansville was going to be my last chase of the year. #383

And then on Monday my phone rings...

Every once in awhile you just HAVE to chase the bird. Lots of things can block your goal - work, school, family obligations, trains, speeding tickets, Alex oversleeping, lack of parking spots, etc. On Wednesday December 30, everything seemed to just fall into place. On vacation from work, too old for school, no family plans, cops too busy pulling over people doing 90mph to worry about my 80mph, Alex was ON TIME (really. no kidding.), and we parked at Alladale Park without issue.

When Alex and I arrived at the park at 8:00AM, folks were lined up to see this amazing visitor to a Medina, OH feeder. This little guy is supposed to be in southern Europe or north Africa, or maybe China right now. Instead, he is in Ohio putting on an amazing show for visitors from around the country.

The bird we were all so anxious to see was a Brambling. This rare visitor from Eurasia is a member of the finch family. Primarily a migratory bird, it sometimes finds it's way into Alaska. This is only the second record of one appearing in Ohio. From, "[Naturalist Dan] Bertsch speculates that the Brambling likely came from Alaska in the company of Arctic migrants such as tree sparrows and juncos."

It was a bit odd having my camera pointed at someone's picture window. And it must have been odd for the homeowner looking out at the bird paparazzi.

Lots of familiar faces - Steve Jones, Jeff Harvey, Jerry Talkington, Dick Hoops, Rogue Birder Eric Elvert and the kids, Kim Warner, dear Jane Riker (no Winston, though), and many others. The homeowner was very gracious (and extremely knowledgeable) as he spoke to Alex and I about both the Brambling and his past birding adventures. A successful chase - and one of the best ever!

I present Life Bird #384, Brambling

But wait, there's more...

Cold. Always.
Another Lifer for Alex and a new State Bird for me had been seen only 30 minutes away at the Wendy Park Coast Guard Station. I was hesitant and this is likely the coldest, most unforgiving, place in all of Ohio (barring, perhaps, Headlands Beach). But it would be a chance to maybe see a couple of good birding friends, so off we went to find the Black-headed Gull.

We bumped into Rich and Karen Kassouf in the parking lot, and Jen B and Chuckski out on the jetty. Jen and Chuck had recently seen the bird, but Chuck decided Alex had to "earn it" and find it himself. I'm the lazy type, so I waited for him to find it and then annexed his scope.

The gull was sitting on the opposite jetty preening. We got great scope looks and a couple of ID photos. High-fives and shivering ensued. Then Jen yells "Coming straight at us!! STRAIGHT. AT. US!!" (You can hear those periods when she is excited). Year bird #333 and Ohio State Bird #310, Black-headed Gull

For information on seeing either of these birds, please visit the Rogue Birder Facebook page
Or check out Ohio Chase Birds or the Birding Ohio Facebook groups.

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