Friday, April 3, 2015

Ohio Ornithological Society annual conference!

 Many visitors to the fabled Shawnee State Park in southern Ohio's rugged hills will soon see this banner - or something like it - welcoming birders to the (song) birdiest region of Ohio. The weekend of April 24th thru 26th marks the 11th annual conference of the Ohio Ornithological Society. As it did the first two years of its existence, the Society is holding the event at Shawnee. If you haven't yet signed on, I'd encourage you to do so. There, in my opinion, is absolutely no better place to be in late April. See all the details, and GET YER TICKETS HERE!

In addition to a fine cast of speakers, there are field trips galore. In fact, the emphasis is very much on getting afield. At least 100 species of birds breed in 65,000 acre Shawnee State Forest and the nearly adjacent 17,000 acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve. Expert guides who know the intimate nuances of this vast landscape will guide trips to the most productive nooks and crannies.

Want to see Cerulean Warbler? Piece of cake. Some of the best populations remaining are found here. It's only one of nearly 20 breeding warbler species, and of course at this date the resident birds will be augmented by numerous migrants. That's one of the great things about late April in Shawnee and vicinity. Nearly all of the locally breeding birds are back and especially easy to see as leafout is usually not yet very advanced.  The following two weekends one can to head points north, such as Lake Erie and Magee Marsh, and catch later waves of migrants.

Prairie Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will's-widow - all of these and scores more are there for the viewing. As an added bonus, an incredibly rich wildflower flora, including a number of rare species, will be putting on a show. Shawnee and the Edge is a truly magical region, especially in early spring.

Here's one of the field trip groups from the inaugural OOS conference at Shawnee in 2005. It features many well known birders, not the least of whom is a very young Ethan Kistler, standing just left of the tree. Ethan now guides birding trips in South Africa.

If you can get away, I'd highly recommend attending. These conferences are always a blast, and generate lots of exceptional birding. We welcome all levels of skill, ESPECIALLY newer birders! Again, CLICK HERE for complete details and registration.

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