Not raining, but still foggy as we assemble in the parking lot at Shawnee (Photo: Earl Harrison)

Not raining, but still foggy as we assemble in the parking lot at Shawnee (Photo: Earl Harrison)In many ways this outing was a lucky one. We chose the only rainless day, in April, or at least so it seemed.   It was a day when many breeding birds were on territory, but also when many migrants bound for points north could be found. The leafing out of trees was late enough that it was easy to find birds once we heard them. Ours plans were ambitious. A group was to meet on Friday after dinner for a foray after night-calling birds; owls were not cooperative, but we easily enough found whip-poor-wills and chuck-will’s-widows singing close by. The following morning nine Avids from Columbus joined the night-birders and folks from other locations for a morning spent with the avifauna of the Shawnee State Forest. We loaded up eight vehicles and set out at 8:30. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, except for a few carloads of bemused turkey-hunters and a vanload of obsessed botanizers.

Looking treeward at one of many warblers for the day (Photo: Earl Harrison)Our gang of 27 was a mix of vets and newbies, and all were pretty satisfied with our results by the time birdsong slowed and clouds gathered around noon. Also cloudy, however, were reports that filtered in to us from Kentucky, where some of us had planned to go to see Swainson’s warblers at the Red Rock Gorge the following day. A birder from Cleveland, returning from the Gorge that morning, reported the Swainson’s had not yet returned, or at least were not singing yet. This agitated an undercurrent that had been swirling all day, involving a confirmed report of a garganey, a very rate teal from the Old World with only one previous record in Ohio,  found at a pond in a decomissioned atomic-bomb plant near Cincinnati. We decided a determined group willing to spend most of the rest of the day driving could go see the garganey and still reach the Gorge before nightfall, but the apparent lack of Swainson’s was enough to persuade nearly everyone that a side-trip to Cincinnati on the way home, deferring Kentucky till another time, was well worth the effort.

We all returned to the rendezvous at the marina, re-sorted ourselves into vehicles, briefed one another on directions, and set off on the most expeditious route to Fernald Preserve and the garganey. A few took peeks into their field guides along the way to refresh their recollections of the field marks of this attractive waterfowl. By 3:30 all 23 of us had arrived at the appointed pond, overwhelming the numbers of Cincinnatians present, and quickly scoped the garganey for some extended ogling. Afterward we greeted local friends and studied the other birds in or near the pond.  We all arrived home in time for dinner, many with a life bird on the old list, a remarkable result for a trip another species had almost disrailed.

Your chronicler, among his many sins, neglected to bring or compile a checklist, so I asked more responsible persons to add to my trip list, now totaling 124 species for this memorable outing.

Canada goose
Mute swan
Wood duck
Mallard
Blue-winged teal
Garganey
Pied-billed grebe
Double-crested cormorant
Great blue heron
Great egret
Green heron
Black vulture
Turkey vulture
Bald eagle
Northern harrier
Coooper’s hawk
Broad-winged hawk
Red-tailed hawk
American kestrel
Ruffed grouse
Wild turkey
Sora
American coot
Killdeer
Semipalmated plover
Lesser yellowlegs
Solitary sandpiper
Spotted sandpiper
Least sandpiper
Pectoral sandpiper
Stilt sandpiper
Ring-billed gull
Rock dove
Mourning dove
Yellow-billed cuckoo
Black-billed cuckoo
Chuck-will’s-widow
Whip-poor-will
Chimney swift
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Belted kingfisher
Red-bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Northern flicker
Pileated woodpecker
Acadian flycatcher
Great crested flycatcher
Eastern kingbird
White-eyed vireo
Red-eyed vireo
Yellow-throated vireo
Blue-headed vireo
Blue jay
American crow
Horned lark
Purple martin
Tree swallow
N. rough-winged swallow
Cliff swallow
Barn swallow
Carolina chickadee
Tufted titmouse
White-breasted nuthatch
Carolina wren
House wren
Marsh wren
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Eastern bluebird
Hermit thrush
Wood thrush
Gray catbird
Northern mocking bird
Brown thrasher
American robin
European starling
Blue-winged warbler
Tennessee warbler
Nashville warbler
Northern parula
Yellow warbler
Chestnut-sided warbler
Black-throated blue warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Black-throated green warbler
Blackburnian warbler
Yellow-throated warbler
Pine warbler
Prairie warbler
Palm warbler
Blackpoll warbler
Cerulean warbler
Black-and-white warbler
American redstart
Worm-eating warbler
Ovenbird
Louisiana waterthrush
Kentucky warbler
Common yellowthroat
Hooded warbler
Yellow-breasted chat
Scarlet tanager
Eastern towhee
Chipping sparrow
Field sparrow
Song sparrow
White-throated sparrow
Northern cardinal
Rose-breasted grosbeak
Indigo bunting
Red-winged blackbird
Eastern meadowlark
Common grackle
Brown-headed cowbird
Orchard oriole
Baltimore oriole
Purple finch
House finch
Pine siskin
American goldfinch
House sparrow