FROM DONNA KUHN: We took off from the Shoppes at Worthington Mall at 5:30AM in the hopes of seeing the Red Crossbills at Oak Openings in their early morning appearance. Some of us even skipped the traditional morning coffee/restroom stop, but traditions die hard, and others stopped, albeit briefly. Temperatures were in the 20s and ice formed on the inside of the backseat car windows, reducing visibility on the drive to Toledo.
On our arrival to the lodge parking lot, the group reconnected and some took off for the restrooms. We heard an unfamiliar call and discovered a male Red Crossbill singing at the very top of a pine tree in the parking lot. Everyone made it out of the restrooms in time to see the male and a female or immature male Red Crossbill before the birds flew out of sight. Life bird for 3 participants! This winter has been an irruption year for this species, giving many in Ohio their first look at this bird.
The park was crowded with over 500 runners, but we took a walk in the woods from the Lodge to the Window on Wildlife where we observed Pine Siskins and other winter birds at the feeders.
Our McDonalds stop could not be denied at this point. There we were treated to free pies, although a few missed them while using the facilities. House Sparrows were observed in the parking lot as usual.
As we drove into the Ottawa Interpretive Trail a Red-tailed Hawk was perching about 20 feet away and posed for pictures, as we observed from the car. We saw Ring-billed Gulls, a couple Bufflehead and Mallards on the water and 100s of blackbirds on the power lines by the landfill.
The Northern Shrike on the Magee causeway was initially seen in the field, then flew and landed on the double yellow line in the middle of the road! It quickly decided that was not a safe place, and repeatedly flew between the edge of the road and a bush about 30 feet from the road. It attracted a big audience of birders, as it showed off its black mask and hooked bill.
Our final stop was Big Island were we had hundreds of ducks and a trifecta of Swans. Tree Swallows were catching insects on the fly. Ducks included both Scaup, Redhead, Ring-necked Ducks, Black Duck, Canvasback, Bufflehead and Ruddy Ducks.
We returned to Columbus around 6PM with 63 species for the day:
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
American Tree Sparrow