As the name suggests, this was a long one! With Donna Kuhn as the fearless leader, there was only myself as a participant on this trip. We hopped into one car and headed south before first light. Although our first destination was the Crown City Wildlife Area, we got a lucky bird before we even arrived: a Common Raven flew over the road, flanked by two harassing American Crows! It was shaping up to be a good day.
When we arrived at the Wildlife Area we were a little unsure of the best place to start; at over 11,000 acres, it’s a big place to bird! We decided to head down Mercerville Road first in the hope of finding some woodland birds. We weren’t disappointed! American Redstarts seemed to be everywhere, and other warblers with them; we found Kentucky, Cerulean, Blue-winged, Yellow-throated, and more. A young family of Red-shouldered Hawks disturbed a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, and a Louisiana Waterthrush fed from the banks of a creek. We submitted our first checklist with 39 species on it after only an hour!
We moved along to the grassland part of the Crown City WA that makes it popular for Ohio birders. Here we quickly found Yellow-breasted Chat, Henslow’s Sparrows, and Grasshopper Sparrows. The Henslow’s Sparrows, normally a very skulky species, seemed to have no fear of us and sang a short distance from our car.
These birds are as stealthy as the quail, and have much softer songs; it had been about two years since I’d seen one, despite them being Ohio residents. However, the singing bobwhites never showed up!
For the past several years, the kites have been nesting near the Calvary Apostolic Church in Chillicothe. We hardly had to wait a moment before we saw one of the kites cruising through the air! Since it happened so quickly, we decided to wait for better looks. A Black Vulture on top of the church kept us company while we were treated to a variety of raptors; including the kites, we also saw Cooper’s Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk! A friend had recommended that we stop at the Casa Del Taco, so we enjoyed some Mexican fare before heading back south.
Our plan was to visit the Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, a great place to hear nightjars after sunset. We stopped on the way for the Eurasian Collared-Doves in Waverly, and then at an old barn near the preserve. As I opened the door, I caught a glimpse of the resident Barn Owl as he scuttled away into the cupola! Unfortunately, he didn’t reappear, but it was good to know that the owl is still there. Working our way through the preserve, we were able to get great looks at Scarlet Tanagers in the treetops! These brilliant red birds are somehow able to conceal themselves in the canopy, so they’re much more often heard than seen. As we racked up Prairie Warblers and Indigo Buntings, I got to help a third Box Turtle across the road!
87 Species for the long, very fun day:
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow