There was a great human turnout, as a group of over 15 people met at 3:00 pm at the parking for the Wet Prairie access at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Columbus. The birds did not pitch up like they usually do, though, as there were hardly any ducks or other wildfowl (the opposite to last year’s similar outing when these birds abounded). We did scope a nice little flock of Northern Shovelers though. And everyone enjoyed the two “gray ghosts” – male Northern Harriers – along with at least three brown female ones and a nice rufous immature one. While I’d seen a Short-eared Owl a few days prior, this species also did not pitch up today. Most people got views of a Ring-necked Pheasant as it took off from right next to the Teal Trail.
Since waterfowl were so scarce today, most of us decided to go to the feeders at the Cedar Ridge section of the park, less than a mile’s drive from where we were in the wetland area. This turned out to be a brilliant decision as we saw some really great birds from the comfort of our cars (it was really cold outside!). A beautiful little Red-breasted Nuthatches (along with quite a lot of White-breasted Nuthatches) and two Fox Sparrows were arguably the highlights, but these were accompanied by large numbers of more common species; the feeders were excitingly active!
This free outing was led by Chirs Lotz of Birding Ecotours, with much-appreciated help from Christopher Collins, Jacob Roelaf, and Michael Lamont. The group was excellent fun despite there being few birds in the wetlands today, and despite it being very cold with some flooding on the first part of the trail because of the heavier than usual recent rains.
Columbus Audubon thanks Birding Ecotours for leading field trips that remain free and open to the public in the central Ohio region. Birding Ecotours also offers similar outings occasionally in other parts of Ohio. For information about future trips in the central Ohio area, see the Events Calendar on the CA web site or the CA Facebook page. For information about these and other Ohio trips, see the Birding Ecotours newsletter.