Ohio Reunion Part III: Wetland Birding Adventures and Class Reunion
On the evening of August 24th after arriving in Tiffin, I decided to drive north to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, where I hoped to bird the next morning. However, I heard on the radio that a tornado was spotted near the refuge and was headed south towards me. The wind howled, debris blew across the road, lightning illuminated the night sky and I sped back to Tiffin to spend the night in my car. Rain poured all night but I managed to get a few hours sleep before heading back northward to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. August 25th marked my third trip up to this birding hotspot and despite being an August morning, the weather was cold and misty.
I first walked around Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk in search of the elusive American Woodcock. I was unsuccessful in locating the bird, so I decided to run loops around the pools and then traverse the landscape over to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. This area is south of Lake Erie, surrounding the Crane Creek Estuary and is home to hundreds of thousands of birds. The refuge and surrounding area was once a part of the Great Black Swamp. The 8100 acre refuge was established in 1961 under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
Following my 10.5 mile run around Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge I continued up the Lake Erie coast to Maumee Bay State Park. The weather was still cloudy and misty and the wind began blowing strong from Lake Erie. I ran 6.1 miles around the park which features a wooden boardwalk, sandy beach, prairie, woodlands, and a large out of place hill. This was the site of one of my favorite high school cross country invitationals – Cardinal Stritch 5K. I took a trip down memory lane and retraced the steps of my teenage self. Most of the trails were under water on this particular occasion and I was drenched by the time I finished up the run. The 1336 acre Maumee Bay State Park was established in 1975 and makes up a small portion of the former Great Black Swamp as well. The Great Black Swamp was once 120 miles long and 40 miles wide and even though it was once compared to the Everglades it is now only a small coastal strip to the south of Lake Erie.
Birds from Ottawa NWR and Maumee Bay State Park: Trumpeter Swan, Canada Goose, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Northern Harrier, Coopers Hawk, Killdeer, Ringbilled Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Tree Swallow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird.
After my adventures at Lake Erie, I drove back to Tiffin and walked around Tiffin Stadium and the old Calvert field house before meeting up with some old high school friends for the evening. On August 26th I woke up early and drove to Springville Marsh to again look for the American Woodcock and after two loops around the marsh boardwalk I gave up on the search. Springville Marsh is 267 acres and is the largest inland wetland in northwest Ohio. Following my Springville Marsh outing, I drove back to Tiffin and ran 10 miles around Hedges Boyer Park. I retraced the old Tiffin Cross Country Carnival course, my second trip down high school cross country memory lane.
Following the run I met up with Craig, Emily, Goose, Paige, and Joe (Old Man) at the St Joes Gym (my old grade school gym) and played several pick up games of basketball and volleyball. Following the open gym, I met up with my Aunt Deb and Uncle Jerry and we visited my uncle Billy in Clyde. Finally in the evening I attended my 15 year high school reunion at the Train Depot. Although the nature trips were amazing, the main purpose of my trip was to visit with family and friends and I am grateful that I was able to reconnect with so many of them.
Birds from Tiffin: American Goldfinch, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Canada Goose, Snow Goose, Domestic Goose.
On my last day in Ohio, I woke up very early again and drove to Springville Marsh where in the predawn hours, I walked around the boardwalk in search of the American Woodcock. I finally found the bird that has occupied my thoughts for several years at 0638 and followed it along the boardwalk for several minutes before it disappeared into the marsh. Then, for the second time I assisted with Tom and Paula Bartlett’s bird banding and we had a great day with 22 unique species. After bird banding, I began my drive back to Cleveland International Airport. However, on the way I finally stopped at Findley State Park.
This state park had been on my list to visit for 15 years, because I used to pass it each time I drove to and from college. Findley State Park is 838 acres and is heavily wooded with pines and hardwoods. The central feature of the park is Findley Lake and the trails around the lake meander through woodlands and meadows and it also connects to the Buckeye trail. I did a quick 6.1 mile circumnavigation of the park and finally ended my summer trip back to Ohio.
Springville Marsh Bird Banding Stats: 9 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee, 2 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 1 Warbling Vireo, 26 Gray Catbird, 20 American Goldfinch, 1 Orchard Oriole, 6 Ovenbird, 1 Northern Waterthrush, 3 Black-and-white Warbler, 2 Tennessee Warbler, 5 Common Yellowthroat, 11 American Redstart, 11 Magnolia Warbler, 5 Bay-breasted Warbler, 2 Chestnut-sided Warbler, 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 1 Canada Warbler, 1 Northern Cardinal, 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 2 Indigo Bunting, 1 American Woodcock.