Date: 7/31/17 11:02 am
From: rob thorn <robthorn...>
Subject: [Ohio-birds] 7-31,Harrisburg-to-Shadeville: BlueGrosbeaks & Darby Creek access
Late July and early August have always been good times to hunt for Blue Grosbeaks around central Ohio. Several days ago I had one bird singing at the end of Panhandle Rd in the Delaware Wildlife Area. Today, I made a wide arc along lower Darby Creek, starting at Youngs Rd & the Swaco landfill, and hitting several spots along Darby Creek south of Harrisburg, and finishing on Island Rd in Circleville (which has had them in past years). No luck at any of these spots, but I found one at the Hibbs Rd canoe launch of Scioto Grove MetroPark on the way home. It was a male only a short ways north of the canoe lunch parking area along the Mingo Trail.

Aside from the Grosbeaks, the trips generated some other interesting sightings, including:

Ospreys - one pair nested on a silo elevator along Island Rd, and had a big juvenile in the nest today. Kudos to this farmer for allowing the birds to use the inactive elevator.

Green Herons - 1-2 birds were around the ponds at the Pleasant valley portion of Battelle Darby MetroPark

Yellow-billed Cuckoos - good habitat, but they were scarce; the only one I saw was at the Commercial Point bridge over Darby Creek

Purple Martins - small numbers at many locations, but a large roost of 45+ birds was along the London Road south of Darbydale

Bank Swallows - small numbers in many spots, but a flock of 50+ along Island Rd was noteworthy

Cliff Swallows - still a large flock of 40-50 birds hanging out around the River Road bridge over the Scioto River, where there was a sizable nesting colony

Savannah Sparrows - 1 was singing at Youngs Rd, while 2 more were in a grazed area along London Rd south of Darbyville

One disturbing feature of my travels this morning was how Pickaway County has quietly eliminated access points to lower Darby Creek. I did this area for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas almost 10 years ago, and there were many informal access points along creek bridges for fishermen and canoeists. No longer. The new Commercial Point bridge is a monstrosity, leveling much of the riparian habitat and set up with guardrails to discourage parking. The Darbyville bridge is similarly restricted, while the McLean Mills Bridge is closed, and the St.104 bridge rest area has been conveyed to local property owners and closed. I suspect that it's equal parts legal concern by the county and discomfort by nearby property owners, but wiping out the creek access from public rights-of-way seems ethically questionable, especially along a State Scenic River. One would almost think that they're trying to hide something about the Creek here.

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