Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Common Yellowthroats at Clear Creek Metro Park in Hocking Hills

Birding Hocking Hills in Southeastern Ohio
...continued from the Strouds Run State Park post.

A friend emailed me this morning recommending I visit Clear Creek Metro Park for spectacular birding, and WOW! am I glad I did. Within minutes of leaving the parking lot and starting down the Creekside Meadows trail I heard the first of at least 25 male Common Yellowthroats. I know Common Yellowthroats are one of Ohio’s most abundant breeding warblers, but I’ve never seen so many in one place. On top of that it was my first sighting of the year, so I was very happy.

Common Yellowthroats were all over the Creekside Meadows 
Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park singing and calling.

This fellow was singing in the meadow among Joe Pye Weeds.

I can see why Joe Pye Weed is sometimes called 
Queen-of-the-meadow. It rises above most of the other 
wildflowers. The Common Yellowthroats liked climbing 
up their sturdy stems and perching and singing at the top.

"Camera lady...are you quite through yet?"

The Creekside Meadows trail is beautiful (and easy to walk, which was good for my foot). To the left of the trail is a gorgeous meadow full of wildflowers and butterflies and to the right is Clear Creek itself (and it really is a clear creek). It didn’t matter where I was on the trail, the Common Yellowthroat’s loud call of “witchety—witchety —witchety—woo” was everywhere. I would hear it in the brushy edge and trees between the trail and the creek and again in the meadow. At first I just heard the male’s song, but on the return loop I started hearing the fairly harsh call notes of the male and female. They would call from the meadow and from lower in the brush, and all I had to do was stand still, listen, and watch, and magically they would start appearing. One after another popped into view. Females were in the brushy edges hidden in the bushes and grapevine tangles, and males were mixed in with them coming out into the open far more frequently, but as often the males would call from the meadow, and I would see them hop from the bottom of the stalks of larger and stronger wildflowers to the top like they were climbing a ladder. 

"Finally I made it to the top. 
I'm King of the Queen-of-the-meadow!"

While I was watching one female moving in and out of the dense cover of the grapevines, what should appear but a Hooded Warbler! (One of my target species…and a life bird for me!) I nearly fell over. He was not singing, just sitting there, hiding in the tangle. His eyes looked enormous and the black feathers framing his yellow face were beautiful. I knew if I dropped my binocs and went for the camera he would fly, so I just watched him for a few more seconds until he ducked deeper into the vines and flew out the other side.

Clear Creak Metro Park is Ohio's largest dedicated nature preserve. It is in the Hocking Hills region and part of the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Characterized by deep gorges and hemlock-laced ravines, the Hocking Hills region offers wonderful birding. Although the glaciers didn't come through this area, their runoff carved the gorges and deposited plants from northern climes. When the glaciers retreated, the northern species continued to thrive in the cooler environment of the the gorges. This microclimate adds up to cool birding. Hermit Thrushes, which head north in the summer, nest in the cooler ravines in Hocking Hills. Heather and I heard and saw Hermit Thrushes on Tuesday while we birded Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls. I'll write more about that trip and the "winter birds" in the coming days. 

I saw so many birds at Clear Creek today…two Veerys near a small bridge, a Hermit Thrush, two Blue birds, Catbirds (naturally they were eating blackberries), Song Sparrows, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a very loud and entertaining Belted Kingfisher, even Red made an appearance, and sooooo many more. I will be going back to Clear Creek Metro Park tomorrow…my target species, a Cerulean Warbler and a Canada Warbler.

37 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

That Warbler is gorgeous, Kel... My grands were here today---and couldn't believe the number of Goldfinch we have.. That yellow color is so distinctive.

Glad you went to Clear Creek.

Hugs,
Betsy

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

Honestly Kelly,...more than reading I have been staring at those gorgeous pictures of the free sky birds...beautiful.

I have a pair of Mainas who keep fluttering near my terrace garden n I love to talk to them...:)

Elaine said...

Your photos of the Yellowthroats are beautiful. You got to love a bird that poses close to the ground to make it easier to get a shot of them. Yesterday I was trying to get shots of birds up high in the trees but wasn't able to get any good clear shots. The serenade was lovely though.

Kelly said...

Betsy...I bet you do have a lot of Goldfinches with all your feeders. I hope you had fun with your grands!

Navita....thank you! Wow! Mainas on your terrace garden. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Elaine...you're so right. I had warbler neck from the day before. The Black-throated Greens are quite as obliging! :-)

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful bird. It is not common to see these birds here. May be I will see them if I go to National Parks.

Ken Browne. said...

Hello Kelly. What great photo's of the Common Yellowthroat's. I just love the contrast between the yellow breast, and the black face mask.

Sue said...

Nice photos. I sure hope you get the chance to capture the Hooded Warbler. How exciting for you to see one...you were smart to just enjoy the moment.

Dave Lewis said...

Fantastic photos! And a Hooded Warbler sighting?! I'm jealous...

Laure Ferlita said...

Such beautiful birds! And to think we consider such beauty common because it's commonplace. Thanks for taking the time to post these anyway!

Beauty if everywhere if we can just recognize it!

Roy said...

Lovely images of a fascinating bird Kelly. He looks to be a bird of two different halves. The top part of the body and the bottom part don't look like they belong to each other and look like two different birds.

Jayne said...

What a beautiful warbler and your shots are spectacular Kelly!

Abe Lincoln said...

I am grateful that you went there and reported on it. I, for one, would love to be able to walk along that trail but with my lung problems I don't think I would get far. I would have to time it on a day when the humidity is low and the weather is not too hot or cold and then I suppose the birds wouldn't like it much. Am so grateful that you got to see and show the photos you took while there. Nice all around.

Thank you very much for visiting my birds blog and for the comment you left me there.
My Birds Blog

NatureStop said...

The Yellowthroats are beautiful birds and you got some great shots!!!

JKoenig said...

Kelly, thanks again for taking us along. Your pictures are excellent, but more than that your descriptive comments make me want to go there. You should be a "birding - travel agent."

Good luck on your birding adventure today!

Roy said...

Great shots of the Yellowthroat! We have a lot here, too, especially in Ballard Park. Unfortunately ours tend to hide in the lush foliage, so while I get to hear them, I've yet to get a decent picture.

Chris Petrak said...

wonderful series of one of my favorite birds - a warbler that behaves like a wren!

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Great pictures! We love the bandit bird!

Midmarsh John said...

How great so see so many and have them pose for you. Lovely photos.

Gabrielle said...

We affectionately call these guys "masked man". I love 'em.

Gorgeous photos, Kelly - and you were envious of my owl photo!?!? I'm green with envy for these "masked man" photos! How in the world did you manage to get so close? They are always so skittish when I try to photograph them.

Born Again Bird Watcher said...

Wow! These are extraordinary images. I stand (well, sit actually) humbled and in awe.

Dan Felstead said...

Kelly...Clear Creek has to be a birdwatcher and photographers' paradise...I would love to visit it sometime...actually we are within driving range...may do it some weekend.

Dan

Nature As Is said...

Simply put beautiful as usual Kelly! Have a wonderful day

Steve B said...

If I may quote Gomer Pyle, "Sha-zame!" Knowing how hard it is to shoot warblers, let me tell you, these are awsome!

holdingmoments said...

What a handsome bird he is, and you've captured him beautifully Kelly.
You've certainly got some outstanding places to visit there.

Jenny said...

Fabulous warbler shots Kelly. Nice that they sat up nicely for you. Sounds like another great place you've found. Good luck with your next target species!

Warren Baker said...

All,it takes it some clean, clear water kelly, and you'll find the birds. Love that warbler though, so much more colour than ours!

The Early Birder said...

Whowser Kelly. Now that is a stunning 'masked' Warbler & exceptionally well captured. FABulous.

P.S. Word Verification was 'coments', how weird is that!

Heather said...

Shhhh... this is a "ghost" comment, since I'm keeping a low profile whilst on vacay, but DANG girl!!! I'm envious of your sightings! I still haven't visited Clear Creek, and now I just absolutely have to go. I'm glad you're having a good time, and seeing good birds. I've seen some interesting things up here so far, but not so many pictures yet. Take care, and have a safe trip back home! Oh yeah, before I forget, I heard a White-throated Sparrow singing today while we were out for a walk - I know how much you love those little birds!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Wonderful captures, Kelly!

Ginnymo said...

What a beautiful little bird!! Great photos Kelly. I've never seen those kind. But my Goldfinch sock finally paid off, although I had to move it out to the front of the building. I saw my first Goldfinches yesterday! I had to move the sock to another spot because the birds were sitting on the hand railing and making a mess. So I hung it on a tree in front of this nice lady's apartment so she can enjoy them.

Kelly said...

Rajesh...thank you! You have so many other gorgeous birds!

Ken..thanks....I do too! Those masks really make them stand out. Surprisingly, their backs are rather dull, a brown...

Sue...I heard him today, but no luck with photos...I'll have to come back!

Dave...Thanks! You have every warbler under the sun up their with you on Magee Marsh! I heard one today...actually more than one...several singing...very loud and long! I recorded them on my iPhone for proof!!

Laure...you are so right. These guys are gorgeous. Their backs are brown and therefore rather common i guess, but I love them!

Roy....so true....and when you see the back, it's a totally different bird. I should have mentioned that in the post.

Thank you, Jayne!

Abe...thank you! The Creekside Meadow trail is a nice trail and not strenuous, but I found it hard to breathe a bit today. The flowers are so fragrant if you have any allergies at all, you'll feel them!

Nature...thank you very much!

JK...You are so nice. Wouldn't that be a great job!! You'd have to test everything out before you wrote about it.

Roy..I must have been there at the right time, because they were practically posing for me! I doubt I'll ever experience that again. This place was like the Pinckney Isalnd of the midwest...for Common Yellowthroats!

Chris...funny you should say that. A wren family was hanging out with a male and female Common Yellowthroat for a while!

Warren and Lisa...thank you! Yes....what a perfect name for him, much better than Common yellowthroat! :-)

John...thank you. Yes....I bet it was one of those once in a lifetime things...

Gabrielle...sounds good to me! I don't know. I stood still and just watched the meadow. When I heard their call I would watch closely....soon one would start climbing up the stalk. It was very cool....

Mike....ahhhh....thank you very much. The bird did all the work. I was lucky enough to stand long enough in the right place at the right time.

Dan...definitely. It's worth a road trip. I want to come back in the spring for migration.

Crista...thank you so much....Hope you had a wonderful day too!

Steve...man....you're too kind. Thank you very much. I didn't do much work here. Just stood for a long time and watched and waited...

Keith...thanks! Yes...I'm glad my friend recommended it. It is a treasure chest...the microclimate lets so many birds live here that are no where else in the state!

Thanks, Jenny.....well, I missed the targets, but the arrow hit some other nice birds! :-)

Warren...so true, and this water really was clean and clear. Aptly name, I'd like to put my boots on and wade a bit looking for salamanders! The top of him is brown, lacking the pizazz of his face and belly!

Frank...thank you very much. Wowser is what I was thinking too! I held my breath so much trying to take these photos I'm surprised I'm not a touch brain dead from lack of oxygen!

Heather...you HAVE to go. It's about 45 minutes from my hotel, so tack on an extra 25 and you're there! Wow!!! You're far enough north to hear the White-throated Sparrows! You lucky duck!! Have fun on your vacay!

Adrienne...thank you! It's fun seeing these species that only live here because of the microclimate of the gorges.

Ginny...Thank you! Yeah!! Glad they found the sock. Sounds like it's in a good place, but can you see the birds? It's nice she will be able to. You might make a birding convert out of her! :-)

Susan Ellis said...

It's beginning to dawn on me that Ohio is a birding hot spot! Love the Common Yellow Throat -but think he should have been called the Masked Warbler! Great photos!

Mary said...

What a beautiful bird that Yellowthroat is! It may be "common", but I've never seen one! Your photos of it are great!

Kelly said...

Susan...yeah! Thank goodness we do have our fair share of birds. Maybe that's why there are so many Ohio bird bloggers. Wayne National Forest is huge and shelters a lot of our birds. Part of it is in the Hocking Hills area.

Mary...Although "common," it's not that common for me! This was my first sighting of the year. In this park, they were very, very common, which made me love them all the more! :-)

Andy Wilson said...

Oooo, that is a great photo of a Common yellow-throat. I haven't been so lucky.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Andy! I was very lucky that day!

yen said...

The Common Yellowthroats photo no. 2 is fantastic, the pose is striking and chest forward like a marching band of army.

Are those berries edible?