“On The Road” #286 & #287

Glacier Ridge & Honda Wetlands Metro Park

4:15 am is a time for sleep, unless your pumped about visiting a wetlands habitat that is producing phenomenal rail activity. For the past several weeks the Ohio Listserv has been a buzz in regards to all the rails being seen here, especially a King Rail. In the first place, rails are difficult to see. They skulk about in marshy, wetlands amongst the tall grasses and cattails. However this King Rail has been seen almost everyday. So I called my birding companion John Marvin yesterday evening and persuaded him to join me. As a matter of fact I think he was kind of excited about the trip, since neither of us have a King Rail on our life list.

So we hit the road at about 5:00 am with little or no traffic to speak of to hinder us. Fog settled in as we got  North of Caesar Creek. Driving when it’s dark and foggy makes driving a little tense, but we passed the time catching up on our lives and past birding experiences since the last time I birded with John.

With the park being located on the North West portion of the city, it took us about 90 minutes to get there. The beauty of getting up early is getting there first, which is just how it happened. The only other person awake was the park ranger.The entire park covers 1,036 acres and the restored wetlands is 250 acres. A jewel in our nations dwindling wetland habitat.

The following map will give you a good idea of how the park lays. The Honda Wetlands is in the Southern part of the park.

Gathering our gear we made our way towards the observation tower which is the focal point and a great viewing platform.

Honda Wetlands Education Center

The views were great, and provided a panoramic view of the wetlands. Most of our attention was given to a certain area to the South of the observation tower. From our perch we were able to see, even without our binoculars Soras and Virginia Rails feeding in the mud flats.

The view looking South and the little bit of water and mud where we were finding the rails. The tall grass and cattails on the left side where the water is, was where the rails would run back and forth.

A terrible picture of a Virginia Rail in the fore ground and a Sora behind him.

The view West

The view North West. The foot bridge offered some great views of Least Bitterns and a very cooperative Marsh Wren who lighted upon the bridge for a few brief seconds before darting back into the reeds.

The real surprise was when a Least Bittern took flight and landed in this tree. I was able to take yet another crappy picture of it before it flew off.

The King Rail finally made it’s appearance after it called a couple of times. We waited for about an hour before it came out to feed. We had a very bad angle to see him since the grasses he was coming out of was closest to us. We were able to see him only after he cleared the grass, then he would run back into hiding. He ran back and forth for several minutes till we were satisfied with our new life bird.

Since it was still early I mentioned to John that there was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron rookery near this park on the East side of Columbus. So we talked to a couple local birders and got directions to their nests. So about 30 minutes later we’re driving down this street that reminds me of a real nice section of Hyde Park in Cincinnati. Big old homes, with well manicured lawns, and very old, tall trees lined both sides of the street. Making our first pass we didn’t see anything. So we turned around at the end of the street, pulled over and parked the bird mobile. It was a good thing it was a Sunday morning. Not to much going on, or people to notice 2 birders walking down the road looking in the Sycamore trees looking for a birds nest. We found the 2 nests and noticed just 1 heron perched motionless on a branch. So that was good enough for us, so before anyone called the police on us we made our way back to the highway and made it home before my youngest was even out of bed.

A great trip and 2 new life birds. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Notable birds for today include:

  1. Common Grackle
  2. American Robin
  3. Red-winged Black Bird
  4. Northern Flicker
  5. Downy Woodpecker
  6. Pied-billed Grebe
  7. Mallard
  8. American Coot
  9. Great Egret
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Green Heron
  12. Least Bittern
  13. Sora
  14. Virginia Rail
  16. Marsh Wren
  18. Red-tailed Hawk
  19. Common Yellowthroat
  20. Yellow-throated Warbler
  21. Eastern Wood Pewee
  22. Bank Swallow
  23. Tree Swallow
  24. Barn Swallow
  25. Mourning Dove
  26. Song Sparrow
  27. Spotted Sandpiper
  28. Killdeer
  29. Eastern Meadowlark
  30. Eastern Bluebird
  31. Field Sparrow
  32. Eastern Goldfinch

One response to ““On The Road” #286 & #287

  1. King Rail

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