Notes From The Field/ Mitchell Memorial Forest

The local Audubon Society organized today’s Winter walk, and I was certainly looking forward to it. Being my first group field trip of the year, I just really love hiking in the woods on a cold day. Call me insane, I don’t care. Mitchell Memorial Forest was our destination.

I arrived a little before 8 am, and meet up with the trip leader and a couple of other people I recognized from previous trips. All told we had about 13 people with us. Which is a pretty good crowd considering it being Winter and a Sunday morning.

A portion of the group scoping out the Evergreens, which were plentiful, for Winter birds.

Small stone shelter at the overlook.

View of the Great Miami River from the stone shelter house.

I had never been to Mitchell Memorial Forest before, so I was certainly impressed with the park. It wasn’t nearly as developed as Winton Woods, or Sharon Woods, which is kind of nice. Since there isn’t a lot of man-made attractions, it keeps the park a little more pristine. There are picnic areas, and some nice trails which extend back into the woods. There’s even a Mountain Bike Trail for those who enjoy 2 wheel adventure.

One of the hiking trails. It’s so quiet that the only sound you here is the crunch of the snow beneath your feet.

Typical view of the snow covered forest floor.

The park had 2 bird feeders stocked with feed and they were the hot spot for all the woodland birds. I can’t remember seeing so many Dark-eyed Junco’s in one day. And Cardinals were definitely in abundance. As you can tell by the only bird picture I took, there were some Mourning Doves feeding on the ground. Some day I’ll get better taking pictures.

However the best surprise for the day wasn’t my new life bird, it was the amount of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’s there were. I counted at least 7 different birds. For me, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them. It re-news your faith in the health of the forest.

Having been so cold for such a long time now, even the small pond at the park was frozen over.

We re-grouped and then proceeded onto another trail which would lead us into a different part of the park. This was the trail that produced so many sapsuckers. There was a small frozen over pond in the back which I’m sure supports some Wood Ducks when the weather is a little more favorable. Hence the name, Wood Duck Trail.

It was a nice loop trail, which had the only running water on it. A small stream which lead down to the small frozen pond. They had built a dam to create the pond, and the spillway had frozen water all over the down stream side.

It would be interesting to see how many animals come to drink from this spot. This was the only water in liquid form we found.

After we returned to the parking lot from this portion of the hike, I had decided to take a side trip over to Lost Bridge to see if anything was happening. There is a gravel pit over there that is owned by Martin-Marietta, and from what everyone says, they don’t take kindly to trespassers. So I parked by the side of the road and stood by the fence and peered in. WOW. Enormous amounts of Canada Geese and Mallards. However, what I was looking for I found. My Common Merganser. Number 365. For a bird with “Common” in it’s name you would think that it’s fairly common. Don’t be fooled. It seems like I’ve been searching for the bird forever. I also had some great side by side comparison of 2 Cackling Geese. Unfortunately I forgot my camera  to record the sight of all those geese. It was a great day though, and whenever I get a new life bird, it’s a happy day.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Dark-eyed Junco
  2. Northern Cardinal
  3. Common Crow
  4. Red-shouldered Hawk
  5. Downy Woodpecker
  6. Carolina Chickadee
  7. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  8. House Finch
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. American Robin
  11. White-breasted Nuthatch
  12. White-throated Sparrow
  13. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  14. Mourning Dove
  15. Northern Mockingbird
  16. Brown Creeper
  17. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  18. Hairy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Eastern Towhee
  21. Mallard
  22. Canada Goose
  23. Cackling Goose
  24. Northern Pintail
  25. Common Merganser-Lifer

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