“On The Road”

Deer Creek State Park and Wildlife Area

It seems like it’s been forever since I went birding. There are so many conflicting and scheduled appointments that trying to plan anything just a week in advance is next to impossible. And if you’re not out birding then it really becomes difficult to write a blog about birding. However there was always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Case in point, yesterday morning bright and early at 0700 hours. Jon arrives at my house for the 90 minute drive to Deer Creek S.P. and Wildlife Area. Situated in a very rural part of Ohio, this 8,600 + acre park has a lot going for when it comes to birding. Besides the lake and the surrounding wetlands which is ideal for waterfowl birding, you probably know by now from some of my past blog posts that it’s fabulous for those skulking sparrows that inhabit marshy/grassy southern portion close to New Holland Ohio.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Jon, so the long drive was perfect for us to catch up and plan our day.  Our thought was to make for the beach first thing and see if any shorebirds might be there before non-birding park visitors arrive.

IMG_1184Overlooking the lake is the lodge at Deer Creek State Park

Jon starts to scan the beach before I get close and tells me that there are Black Terns on the beach. Now this kind of excites me since the only time I’ve seen Black Terns is during the Spring at Metzger Marsh. And this was only at a distance where you see mostly black shapes feeding way out into the marsh. So I hurried back to the car and grabbed my camera (don’t ask me why I left it there) and made my way back towards the edge of the beach where I quickly found the Terns.


IMG_1187As you can see by these 2 pictures how they’re not in the usual breeding plumage. There were only a few sitting on the beach, but when you scanned over the lake you saw more as they swooped around looking for food.

Deer Creek isn’t your traditional kind of state park. Granted there aren’t a lot of hiking trail in the park, however you are allowed to go anywhere you want. Most of the designated trails (which are few) is in the vicinity of the lodge north of the lake. If you plan on birding anywhere else you either have to bushwhack in, or hope the park has mowed a path through wherever you are.

As we drove from place to place during the morning, it couldn’t help but notice just how lousy birding was. There just wasn’t a lot of birds considering that it’s migration time. We would soon find out the answer as we hiked a park road back towards the wetlands/ grasslands area of the park. A green pick-up truck was driving towards us with a ranger from ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources). Well it seems we came on the worst possible weekend. It was Dove hunting season and opening day for Teal, which would explain all the shotguns going off around us. And if I was a migrating bird this would be one place I’d want to avoid.

IMG_1197There may not have been tons of birds to see, but there were plenty of Leopard Frogs that would scatter from the water holes along the park road.

So with all this hunting going on this changes the complexion of how we go about birding. Do we stay, or do we go? We stayed and did the best we could under the circumstances.

IMG_1198Savannah Sparrow

Despite our best efforts we were becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of birds. And as the morning waned into the afternoon we decided to cut our loses and head back home. And as you reflect on a day like yesterday there is always tomorrow, because a bad day of birding is always better than a good day at work.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. American Crow
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mallard
  4. Mourning Dove
  5. Osprey
  6. Red-tailed hawk
  7. American Kestrel
  8. Ring-billed Gull
  9. Black Tern
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Black Vulture
  12. Common Yellowthroat
  13. Magnolia Warbler
  14. White-breasted Nuthatch
  15. Scarlet Tanager
  16. Song Sparrow
  17. Savannah Sparrow
  18. Great Egret
  19. Great Blue Heron
  20. Green Heron
  21. Belted Kingfisher
  22. American Goldfinch
  23. Double-creasted Cormorant
  24. Eastern Bluebird
  25. Killdeer
  26. Semipalmated Plover
  27. Horned Lark
  28. Gray Catbird
  29. Eastern Kingbird
  30. House Sparrow
  31. Chipping Sparrow
  32. Northern Flicker
  33. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  34. Downy Woodpecker
  35. Carolina Chickadee
  36. Carolina Wren
  37. Northern Cardinal
  38. Chimney Swift
  39. Willow Flycatcher
  40. Eastern Towhee
  41. Indigo Bunting
  42. Eastern Phoebe
  43. Eastern Wood Pewee
  44. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  45. Northern Mockingbird
  46. Solitary Sandpiper
  47. Warbling Vireo
  48. Barn Swallow
  49. Cedar Waxwing
  50. American Robin

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