Sunday, December 22, 2013
The 15-mile diameter count circle is quite diverse, including large tracts of woodlands, numerous ponds and wetlands, and vast grasslands. It's a lot of ground to cover, and we don't have too many people to deploy. If you enjoy bird counts, put the Chandlersville count on your calendar for next year.
the Wilds, a sprawling 10,000-acre large animal conservation and research facility. The Wilds, and thousands of acres of surrounding lands, were cleared and flattened in the course of coal strip mining. Diverse mixed mesophytic forests were destroyed, and in their place, "reclamation" resulted in expansive rolling grasslands. But to make lemonade from lemons, the new and utterly artificial grasslands have proven to be beneficial breeding habitat for a declining suite of grassland birds, and good wintering grounds for a variety of raptors.
Susan Nash and I were paired with Win Fox and Rachael Glover, who are apprentices at the Wilds. They were fabulous hosts and excellent spotters, and shuttled us though the core of the Wilds. Once inside the fence, one will quickly be reminded who the VIP's are. These Bactrian Camels were reticent to move from the road as we approached.
The Wilds also works with Cheetah, Fringe-eared Oryx, Greater One-horned Asian Rhino, Persian Onager, Giraffe, African Wild Dog and many others. Seeing strange beasts such as these as one birds the place is a rather surreal experience. Be sure and take a tour of the Wilds sometime. It is one of the most interesting outdoor experiences that one can find in Ohio. CLICK HERE for details.
In spite of the nonstop rain, we did fairly well with the birds. Our team tallied 46 species, including plenty of waterfowl, a count first Double-crested Cormorant, two Ruffed Grouse, three Short-eared Owls, gorgeous examples of both light and dark morph Rough-legged Hawks, and much more.
If you want an interesting wintertime immersion into the Wilds, consider signing up for the Ohio Ornithological Society's annual foray on January 18th. We've been doing this event for a decade, and about 150 birders usually show up. It's a blast, with lots of interesting birding. Details HERE.