Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cold Birding, Ohio Style

Thursday, January 14, 2010
Marc Nolls of the OOS birding at The Wilds.

This Saturday, January 16, the Ohio Ornithological Society will hold our annual winter birding trip to The Wilds. In the good news/bad news department, the trip is already maxed out at 150 participants, with a waiting list of 30+. This is surprising to me given the weather we normally have for this outing: think Arctic Circle. No matter what the weather person predicts, it's always 20 degrees colder at The (wide-open) Wilds. If you're coming along, wear everything you've got and activate the hand warmers.

We're hoping to see some specialty birds there. Among the highlights in past years have been golden eagle, northern shrike, prairie falcon, snow bunting, and white-fronted goose. More likely (though not guaranteed) are northern harrier, horned lark, rough-legged hawk, and short-eared owl.
Rough-legged hawk.

Even if we don't see many birds, we'll still be treated to some mammal watching and the omnipresent Canada geese.

Our group will split into smaller car pools to cover all the prime birding spots. Jim McCormac (shown above demonstrating the effectiveness of his deodorant) always attracts a big crowd with his mad birding skilz. Even when the birding is slow, we still have a good time. We're hoping it's cold enough to keep the mud frozen, but not SO cold that bodily extremities are frozen.

The Wilds is 20,000 acres of recovering strip mine: prime habitat for grassland birds year-round. Poor habitat for trees, as this photo indicates.

And at the end of the daylight hours, if we are lucky, we might catch a glimpse or two of a short-eared owl.

A short-eared owl in the low light of a January dusk.


On January 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM Anonymous said...

Looking forward to it, BOTB!

On January 14, 2010 at 7:27 PM Heather said...

Bird on, dude. See you there!

On January 14, 2010 at 9:34 PM Dave Lewis said...

The last time we went, my lens froze. Really, 20 below.
Dressing warm is an 'under' statement!

On January 15, 2010 at 9:02 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Dave: There are ways to keep your lens warm, you know....

Heather: See you there!

Anon: Me too!

On January 18, 2010 at 8:15 AM Felicia said...

I found the most inspirational line in your report "recovering strip mine". So cool that nature can recover from its injuries that well, and that people sometimes have the common sense to let this happen!

Just out of curiosity, HOW does one keep a lens from freezing in those temps?

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