We arrived for our second Ornithological field trip at Hope State Park in Zeleski, Ohio. I was surprised as I stepped out of the van into the brisk fall air- I realized I had been here before. There was an old furnace built into the hill, and I had camped here two years prior as part of a student group I was in at the time. Coincidently, this was the place I first met and got to know my good friend and fellow ornithology classmate Joshua Philips, and pondered the possibility of any meaning to us being at this same site now as soon to be federally certified wildlife biologists. We talked of our majors at the time when we first met here, and I remember then also of noticing the beautiful birds that inhabited this forest and what it would be like to one day know them all. The universe can act in odd ways sometimes.
I grabbed a pair of binoculars and begun to look around the morning skies for a sight of anything aerial. It was 7:40 A.M. and the first thing I heard was the cry of an American Crow. The first actual identified bird too be seen was a white breasted nuthatch, as he informed us of its order: the Passeriformes. The first bird I was actually able to get a very good look at through my binoculars was the beautiful American Goldfinch, a bird very disserving of it’s name. At around 7:45 am, A loud red shouldered hawk was heard with a loud “kaww.. kaww.. kaww”. While trying to frantically locate it, a downnie woodpecker was sighted. I also saw a bird with long pointy tail and beak, however was not able to glimpse it long enough to make identification.
Dr. Miles then led us into the brush to find some more well-hidden birds, and we followed him through the path one by one, weaving through the wilderness in silence to find Aves treasure. A great many warblers were saw here, the first of which being the orange crowned warbler with its distinct markings. However, a more exciting event occurred after the warblers when Josh thought he saw the red-shouldered hawk across the field, next to the furnace itself. The class ran over too see, and although he did indeed sight the bird, it flew off just as I was able to train my binoculars upon it. No worries though, as we had a lake too see and the spectacular birds that fancy it.
The walk to the lake was a nice one, filled with bird sightings here and there, some of which unfortunately were unidentifiable to me in their swift movement and my walking along the path. However, Dr. miles called out a Yellow Throated Vireo in the distance, and I was able to gain a very good view of it. A red bellied woodpecker was sighted by Kyle Ebenhoch, and I saw a white eyed vireo. Also sighted were:
- Townsend Warbler with a black streak on it’s throat.
- Magnolia warbler
- Yellow throated warbler
- Tufted titmouse
- Black and white warbler
- Gray catbird
- Song sparrow
By this time we arrived to the lake, and the time was 9:24 A.M. A great blue heron was sighted, as well as 5-8 wood ducks over the lake, with another huge flock sighted immediately afterwards. One of the most noticeable things seen was a hugh turkey vulture soaring high in the sky, circling the lake. More birds were seen, including:
- Cedar wax wing
- A flock of eastern blue birds
- Carolina blue jay
- Red tailed hawk
We made our way back to the vans, and once we arrived back at the field, were greeted by a park ranger. He was very interested in what we were doing, and after talking to Dr. Miles, told us of where we might be able to find some red-headed woodpeckers. Thus, we were off, our destination: the campgrounds and nature center.
There was no wind, and very sunny weather as we arrived at 10:10 A.M. to the site. Immediately, we saw the object of our desire: the superb red headed woodpecker. Not only that, but quite a few of them. Indeed, it was quite the adventure trying to spot one- our whole class was ecstatic with our binoculars skimming the skies for any movement. The sighting of one was yelled out with glee, as the whole classes clustered too see it. It started with a juvenile red headed woodpecker, and before we knew it we were in a flock with them surrounding us. Such an amazing way to end our second field experience as wildlife biologists, as ornithologists, and as nature enthusiasts.