I went birding with Kevin Rysiewski and Tom Heatley today at Stoney Creek Metropark… We met at Eastwood Beach at first light… A Horned Grebe swam near the beach and Pied-Billed Grebe were scattered about the lake… Several Canvasbacks were seen on the lake as well as some Ruddy Duck… Lots of Ring-billed Gulls and American Coots… Right as we were about to leave a Mature Bald Eagle flew right by us as it scoped the beach for fish to eat… At Mt Vernon Picnic area we spotted two Sharp-shinned Hawks…. From there we headed over to the East Lake trails to look for Ruffed Grouse… We worked the thick Vegetation through out the whole area with no luck…. Kevin and I got separated from Tom and as we were making our way back toward the trail we spotted something large land in the trees above our head…. a Barred Owl!! Sweet… I had heard them in the Spring on the Habitat Trail, but I finally got to see one in the park… we called Tom, and he had seen it right before us and it flushed our way… Kevin and Tom were both able to get photos… I had left my camera back in the car because I knew I would be swamp hiking looking for the Grouse and didn’t want my camera damaged… shoot, I just got it back from the repair shop…. We saw Wild Turkey, multiple Red-tailed Hawks and a Turkey Vulture… There was a huge influx of migrating Robins in the park… hundreds of them…. the most I have ever seen in one place….
We made our way back to the cars and Tom left for Wetzel and Kevin and I decided to hike the Osprey Trail…. within several minutes of being on the Osprey trail we heard a hawk calling…. It sounded like a Red-shouldered Hawk, but not as loud and rapid as they usually call… we looked and could not locate the source of the call, so we continued on… we stepped down to a lookout onto the lake and all of a sudden out of no where a Red-shouldered Hawk flew right at us at tree level, saw us and turned sharply and disappeared over the trees…. Kevin and I hi-fived because that was a new bird for him for the county and put him at 225 county species for the year…. very cool… we called Tom and told him and then we moved on hoping to relocate it and gets some pics….. as we moved through some thickets, Kevin spied an American Woodcock walking under some thick brush…. I switched the camera to Manuel focus and increased my ISO hoping I could have enough light to shoot into the dark looking underbrush…. I focused on the Woodcock’s head and shot a couple of pics before it walked off…. It was very cool…. The lake off of the Osprey trail held Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Wood Duck, Mallards, Black Duck and Blue-winged Teal.
It was breezy and a perfect day for Hawks… Sharp-shinned, Coopers, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle and a Barred Owl…. Not too shabby!!