Birdathon 2018 Report: Calamus Swampers

Prothonotary Warbler center - Photo Earl Harrison
Calamus Entrance Sign - Photo Trudy Brandenburg

The sign at the Calamus Swamp parking lot. Photo Trudy Brandenburg

This year’s report should be entitled the “Calamus Swamper” (no “s” at the end) because I was the only team member who could make it this year!

I solicited a newer birder this year to accompany me at Columbus Audubon’s crown jewel for a unique habitat Birdathon. We were to meet at 5:30 and I arrived early. I heard a Barred Owl and dawn songs while waiting, but my acquaintance did not show. Oh well….

The first Calamus Swamp BioBlitz had been held the previous day, so I had inquired about current conditions re: water levels. They were reported as the highest ever seen, but I made the decision to tackle the swamp single-handed wearing my gum boots! What did I have to lose? I could always turn back.

It took a minute to get my “sea legs”. The water was multiple inches or a foot above the board walk. This was a unique experience: wading through the deep water in the dark surrounded by lush vegetation and singing birds. Cool! Singing Great Crested Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Indigo Buntings were everywhere, along with a Prothonotary Warbler proclaiming his territory by belting out his “sweet sweet” song.

Linda Benner

Linda Benner scans the birding trail.

This day is etched in my memory for the above exhilarating experience and also for another unexpected one. The last sections of the boardwalk were unevenly free floating. This was a slightly challenging but fun and my sea legs didn’t fail me — but as I walked I discovered that the board walk surface was slippery. Instantly one leg flew out from under me and I enjoyed a surprisingly warm partial dunk!

I didn’t participate in a big or a deck day, nor did I see a rare specie or a large number of birds. But I had a grand experience which now is a fond remembrance, one that brings a smile to my face.

The perfect finale to this Birdathon day was at 6:00 pm. My acquaintance texted me, inquiring if I was coming. He was waiting…since 5:30….pm!

Lots of laughs! Great day! Everyone is invited to join me next year.