Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ohio's best grassland birding-

May has swooshed by in one amazing fog!  Your blogger has traipsed all across this state and into another!  I admit, these blog posts got a bit behind as I was just running too hard and having too much fun to sit down to write.
Greg Miller birding with Ronnie and Sharron from Nova Scotia
My friends and I traveled from  Shawnee State Park (Flora-Quest) and Forest, to Maumee Bay (Biggest Week in American Birding), to Mohican State Forest, Byers Woods, Hocking Hills, and Cranberry Glade, WV.
Sharron and Ronnie- doing what birders do.
 We found nice, quiet spots off the beaten path, where we enjoyed both birds and botany throughout Ohio.

The Greater Mohican Audubon Society spotted Cerulean Warblers from the Mohican Covered Bridge.
Some of these travels were "pay back birding."   Ronnie was my birding host when I visited Nova Scotia in search of Atlantic Puffins last year.  In return, I promised to help him find Cerulean Warblers.  This photo was from the day we saw at least four Ceruleans singing their hearts out along the Clear-Fork River in Mohican.  Debt paid in FULL!

Sharron Marlor, Luisa Martinez and Ronnie D'entremont at Byers Woods, a landfill- turned bird sanctuary.
Of all our jaunts, Ronnie spent the most time working his photographic charms at Byers Woods.  He was amazed at the numbers of Bobolinks we found there.  In addition to numbers, the shear proximity to these grassland birds is a bit mind boggling.  You don't even need binoculars for the most part.

Bobolink with landfill vent in the background, photo by Ronnie D'entremont
This stunning in-flight photo of a Bobolink was taken by Ronnie.  We counted over forty Bobolinks in flight- calling across the grassland looking for love.  Most Bobolinks land in all the WRONG places- farm acreage that will be mowed or harvested before the young are able to fledge from the nests built on the ground.

Bobolink in grassland repose, photo by Cheryl Harner
By now the Bobs have found their mates, built nests on the ground and may well be incubating their eggs.  It could be tough to see much activity during this quiet period.

Welcoming sign at Byers Woods
We know this timing well, because the Greater Mohican Audubon Society hosts a festival to celebrate the Bobolinks at Byers Woods each year. Join us on June 22nd and you'll be likely to see some active Bobolinks feeding young in their nests.

Join us for a fun free event. You'll see more Bobolinks than you can shake a stick at!  We have come a long way with 6 years of conservation.  Go to the GMAS website for more details.  This is your opportunity to go on a walk with Jim McCormac, Lisa Rainsong, or take the beginner's walk with local expert Tim Leslie.  Greg Miller will also be there to help you see a Bobolink in a spotting scope.

Bobolink numbers have been in great decline all across the country.  It is not just Ohio that has seen changes in their numbers.  For more information, the University of Connecticut has a Bobolink Project for the protection of Bobolinks.  

It seems we have been leaders in conservation right here in Ashland County!  Thanks to all of their friends in Greater Mohican Audubon and the Ashland Park District, central Ohio's Bobolinks have a place to call home.

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