What a superb day of birding this was! We started early (6:00 am) and, strictly speaking, this was meant to be a morning outing. But we were all so excited about the birding — getting life birds, year birds and just enjoying the good weather — that we only stopped around 3:00 pm! It’s not only the birds, of which we recorded 88 species, that made this such a great day. It also was the people; it was such a fun group of twelve and we worked well as a team. Having so many eyes and ears also helped make the day successful, seeing almost all our target birds.
We started the day at sunrise at the parking for the wet prairie section of the massive Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near the Teal and Harrier Trails. A couple of folks who arrived early were treated to a Common Nighthawk flying over the parking lot. We then slowly walked the first half of the Teal Trail. Our early start was intended to maximize our chances of getting visuals on Sora and Virginia Rail. We were not disappointed, as we got close-up views of both of these near the start of our walk!
American Bittern abounds here. We heard the weird call of this species all along the trail, but only a couple of people ended up getting excellent views of one in the cattails. This is the first time I’ve visited this site without seeing at least one of these skulking herons in flight. Least Bittern is always tricky to see, but we did hear one. A member of the group waited back while the rest of us continued, and he was eventually rewarded with excellent views of this beautiful little heron! Marsh Wrens were highly vocal but very skulking in the reeds; with some patience we managed to get good views of a few of them. The open water had more lingering winter ducks than I expected for late May, and we saw species such as Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Duck, lots of Blue-winged Teal, etc.
We then went to our Sedge Wren stakeout on the nearby Harrier Trail and were rewarded with incredible views of a constantly singing individual. (There was also a second one nearby as well). Henslow’s Sparrow was also much in evidence at the same site. This is a beautiful bird when seen well, even though its “song” is ridiculously simple.
Ronnie Clark kindly gave us a location for Kentucky Warbler at the Indian Ridge section of Battelle-Darby less than 2 miles away, so that’s where we headed next. And the intelligence was spot-on; we were rewarded with really fantastic views of this beautiful warbler as we walked through the woods. We saw a few other nice warbler species as well, even though the bulk of them had already migrated through Ohio earlier in the month. Acadian Flycatcher, a late migrant which is passing through Columbus in some numbers right now, did put in an appearance. So did the scarce Hairy Woodpecker, which always is a treat to see.
Most of us then headed to the OSU livestock facilities near the OSU airport. Here, one of the main targets was Upland Sandpiper, and we found three of them. Savannah Sparrow, Bobolink, and Dickcissel were also all seen well. Grasshopper Sparrow was also around but didn’t provide such good views. A Red-headed Woodpecker sat on a post and we managed to scope it.
Our final destination for the day was Woodside Green Park, where Bob and Elaine McNulty had reported hearing a Connecticut Warbler. We were unable to relocate it, but we did find quite a few other good birds including another Hairy Woodpecker, a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk with prey in the tree right above the trail, and various others.
Thanks so much to the great folks who attended this outing, making the whole day such wonderful fun. And thanks to the birds for pitching up and co-operating so well!
The complete e-bird checklists for today’s outing can be seen at:
I really look forward to the next outing – I’m planning one about a month from now in late June.