Sunday, May 16, 2010

Indigo Buntings at Kelley Nature Preserve

Rick and Matty played hockey together today at the Indian Hill Winter Club. This is the first time father and son have been on a team together. Matty is now old enough, good enough, and big enough to play in a men's non-checking hockey league, and yahoo to the fact the league is at the Indian Hill Winter Club--the most beautiful of all the hockey rinks in Cincinnati. Any hockey mom will tell you "beautiful" and "hockey rink" rarely fit together in the same sentence, but this time it's true. The Indian Hill Winter Club looks like a rustic ski lodge plucked right out of the wilds of Montana. Complete with two huge stone fireplaces and a cozy lounge, the Indian Hill Winter Club always gets a thumbs up from the moms, but.......I don't care about the bar, the food or the cozy leather couches--at all. I get excited because it's the only hockey rink in Cincinnati located on the banks of a reclaimed gravel pit that is deep and wide and attracts lots and lots of ducks...and recently has been hosting an American Bald Eagle or two. Even better, it's only two minutes away from one of my favorite birding spots, the Kelley Nature Preserve.

Today, after dropping Rick and Matty off at the rink, I hightailed it over to the preserve. The clouds above were dark and threatening, but I knew I could get a little birding in before the heavens let loose. I had about 35 minutes before the game would begin (and I could always be a little late...there are three periods after all). As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I could hear two Eastern Towhees singing back and forth in the trees to the left of the gazebo. What a beautiful call. With one of the most memorable mnemonics, the Eastern Towhee's "Drink your tea....." song always makes me happy. I spotted the orange, black and white high in the tree and listened for a while, eventually moving on to the path north of the gazebo that leads to the meadow. I was hoping to find Indigo Buntings at the forest opening, and they were everywhere.

A male Indigo Bunting was singing near the forest's edge. He would fly out into the meadow and sing, only to return to his perch high in the tree.

Can you tell this is a different male in a different spot. He is smoother and farther along in his molt. He was chipping back and forth with his mate, flying from branch to branch.

...here is his sweet little mate. I first heard her chipping in the brush and found her in a small snag near where the tree limb hangs low over the trail at the meadow's edge as it re-enters the forest. Even though she lacks the brilliant blue of the male, she is so pretty, and I love her gorgeous eyes.

...the same little female flies up into the dead tree rimming the edge of the trail. Both birds would meet up and follow each other from branch to branch, constantly chipping to each other.

...yet another male Indigo Bunting. He was near the beginning of the meadow, in the area where all the saplings are growing. At one point there were four males hollering out their song in trees at the four corners of the meadow. It was wonderful to hear.

As I was leaving the meadow, a flock of 14 Cedar Waxwings, singing and squeaking overhead, flew into a large Mulberry tree and started to devour the berries. The mulberries weren't even ripe yet, but the waxwings didn't seem to mind.

I love the metallic squeaking and constant motion of a flock of Cedar Waxwings as they move through a tree eating the berries. The two birds on the left were feeding each other berries, never sitting still...

Kelley Nature Preserve is a small woodland of only 42 acres, but it hugs the Little Miami River (now you know why I love it) and is very close to the Indian Hill greenbelt. Surrounded by trees, it seems to be a magnet for migrating warblers. Every time I go there I spot something cool. I've seen more Ovenbirds there than anywhere else (I love that little orange stripe on their heads)...and Magnolia Warblers too... Raindrops started to fall, so I headed out. I think I got about 40 minutes of birding in. I'll take it!

...father and son on the ice together for the first time. Matty did so well, even grabbing the puck for a breakaway--and shooting and scoring--yeah!

49 comments:

holdingmoments said...

Perfect day Kelly. Birding and watching the men in your life play sport.

And how cool to have a nature reserve named after you. ;)

Elaine said...

The shots of the Indigo Buntings are fantastic. And how perfect to be able to get some quick birding in while waiting for the game to start!

It is really great that Rick and Matty get to play hockey on a team together. Being able to play with your kids is really special. I played for many years with my daughters in our women's league, and my hubby is playing with his son and two daughters in the oldtimers league here, plus we have done numerous co-ed events.

Hooray for Matty for getting a goal too!

oldcrow61 said...

Those Indigo Buntings are beautiful birds. Lovely pictures. I've only had the Cedar Waxwings in my garden twice. They too are a joy to see. Nice shot of your two men.

Laure Ferlita said...

Sounds like a wonderful day, Kelly! Love the bunting and waxwing shots.

Mr. Matty looks so grown up in that shot! Wow!

Larry said...

I love the shots of the birds.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
What a nice day and encounter you got. This indigo buting is so cute! Both of them, male and female!!! Nicely done on the waxwings, again a species I'll not see this year..
Nice also to see pictures of the family on ice ;-)

Jayne said...

Now THAT'S what I call a great hockey game!! I am so looking forward to seeing the bunting again.

DK Miller said...

Great bird shots. Looks like a lovely day. Fantastic hockey shot too. So well rounded you are. :-)

Wanda said...

Enjoyed your post Kelly, Towhees are cheerful, they seem to follow one also. The Indigo and Waxwing photos were great.
Wonderful photo too and Matty and Rick!
♥...Wanda

Jean said...

You made the most of your brief visit. I enjoyed all your pictures...but really loved the ones of the female Indigo Bunting. She is a pretty bird.

Roy said...

What an amazing colour on that bird Kelly.
Kelley (almost an appropriate name) and it would have to be by the Little Miami River.{:)

JKoenig said...

I am so happy someone has finally seen the Indigo Buntings. They were here last year and I was so hoping they would come back.

Your pictures are all so great....the ones of father and son as well.

Enjoy your day!

Ginnymo said...

Those Indigo Buntings are so pretty. I have only seen one once here as it was passing through the area I guess. have never seen the Waxwings but they are such pretty birds. Have a great week Kelly!

ShySongbird said...

Well done to Matty! I have a young acquaintance here who plays ice hockey for his country and recently did well in Canada.

Wonderful shots of the Indigo Bunting, such a stunning colour! I also enjoyed seeing the beautifully photographed Jack-in-the-Pulpit and the Columbines on the previous posts. The JITP reminded me of our Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo Pint which is in the Arum family as I think yours is.

Out on the prairie said...

I have been watching for the buntings and they are not in yet.Had a pair that sang to me and others at a biolological lab I worked at, coming for a number of years.One year they flew into a building and perished together. We drew them for a couple of days before our ornitholigist returned and had a huge burial.Hope they are headed my way!

grammie g said...

Well used your 40 min.the photos are great. Nice group you where you was able to see!! The Indigo Buntings are very pretty but, my favorite are the Waxwings!! I love when they all come cheering into the yard!! What fun is a good hockey game!! My daughter played on the boys team in highschool!!

Roy said...

Great shots of a beautiful bird. We only get occasional visitors, and then they're only fly-byes; they don't stay.

BirdingMaine said...

Two of my favorite birds, Indigo Buntings and Waxwings!

Excellent photos Kelly!

JeniQ said...

Hi Kelly! Indian Hill is my FAVORITE!! I volunteer to take Logan when the house league plays there. Hot cocoa by the fireplace nothing better.

I've been looking for different - safe - hiking places to go with one of my dogs. I'll have to check out that place. I promise he won't scare the birds at all.

mick said...

Those are beautiful little birds and it sounds like a very interesting place to visit.

Warren Baker said...

Wow! What a great colour on those Buntings, and to have waxwings on the same day - lucky you :-)

The Early Birder said...

Indigo...such an exotic colouring and the lady looks pretty good as well. Great birding location..Am I jealous..well you can guess the answer.
Well done Matty. Regards FAB.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, I know your are proud of that son of yours...I sure that father and son enjoying being on the same team now. Do you think Matty will be a better hockey player than his Pop????? Will he try to get a scholarship and play hockey in college --and beyond???? That would be neat.

Your pictures of the male Bunting are fabulous. What a gorgeous bird. The female is pretty too--but not as pretty as the male. I also love the Waxwings...

Great post.
Hugs,
Betsy

Cherrie said...

The male Indigo Bunting is so pretty!

I love watching Hockey!

Midmarsh John said...

What a stunningly beautiful bird the Indigo Bunting is.

eileeninmd said...

Great birds, the Indigo Buting is a beauty. the Waxwings are a favorite of mine. Wonderful photos!

Carol Mattingly said...

I've never seen waxwings here in Kentucky. I've only encounter buntings on occasion. Love the images though. Cheer one for the home team. Carol

Tim Rucci said...

Lucky you, Kelly. I've always wanted to see an indigo bunting, but I never have in person, much less get a chance to photograph one. Nice work here for sure.

Kathiesbirds said...

Kelly, what a treasure trove of birds!

Jenny said...

What absolutely stunning colours. That lovely fresh and lush green and the luminous Blue of the Buntings! Wonderful stuff Kelly! Lovely photo of your boys in Blue at the end there too! (-:

Cindy said...

Love the Indago Buntings - so beautiful and so are your shots.

dAwN said...

Wow..not bad for forty minutes..Awesome photos!
Especially the last duo!

Larry said...

Fantastic shots of the Indigo Buntings and the Cedar Waxwings Kelly! It was really nice taking that walk with you. Plus you got to see both your guys playing hockey together. It doesn't get much better than that!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Wonderful post, Kelly. I loved seeing the variety of beautiful birds you spotted--and, of course, hearing about the success of the father/son hockey game. Go Matty!

E said...

Congrats, Kelly, great pics, father and son, great. Hugs.

Dave Lewis said...

Wow, your own nature preserve. You must know somebody important!...and I like your Indigo buntings too!

Shelley said...

That Indigo reminds me of a blue jewel! Great shots you captured of them! And also of father & son playing hockey - looks like they are professionals!

Hilke Breder said...

Enjoyed reading your post, your life, your family, your interests all in sync. Great pics too!

elvira pajarola said...

MAGNIFICIENT Photos during your walk in the woods....FANTASTIC!!!!!

The " sea"blue- one is soooo beautiful!!!

Sympatic shot of your "two men" on the ice!

ciao ciao elvira

Beyond The Garden said...

The cedar waxwing has grown to be my favorite bird for looks. They are not common here. I have never seen them in my garden but await the day. Thank you for a glimpse.
http://beyondmygarden.blogspot.com/

Mary said...

Indigo Buntings are so pretty! I see them in the distance all the time right now...flitting quickly across a road in front of us. The female is really such a pretty shade of brown. Lovely birds. Nice photo of father and son!

Deb {Posted From} Home said...

Gorgeous post Kelly. The Indigo Bunting is such an amazing colour! We were hoping the Cedar Waxwings would return this year - beautiful birds, I love how they travel in flocks. Congratulations to your son on his breakaway goal! How exciting.

E said...

Kelly. regards. look at this video...
http://www.ted.com/talks/yann_arthus_bertrand_captures_fragile_earth_in_wide_angle.html

hugs
:(

Robin Robinson said...

Gosh, those Indigo Buntings make me just weak in the knees with envy! Wow! Great shots.I too really groove on getting wildlife shots while i'm supposed to be doing something else. Makes it all the sweeter.

Allison said...

Those buntings . . . ASTONISHING! The color is so brilliant.

Susan said...

Indigo buntings and waxwings...two of my favourites! ..then again, they're all my favourites! Great photos Kelly

Angela said...

What exquisite photos of these beautiful little blue jewels.

Claire M said...

Absolutely priceless! You must be so proud and happy!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone for the kind comments. I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted. I'm just running out of time all over the place it seems. I didn't even get to go out birding this week. I know those beautiful Indigo Buntings are out there, and it was killing me to have to stay away. I hope to be back to Kelley's Nature Preserve soon. If you live in Cincinnati, add it to your places to bird list!