Gilmore Ponds is steeped in local birding history and at times can be among the most productive birding sites in our region. Gilmore Ponds is a roughly 270 acre seasonal wetland located within the Hamilton city limits in Butler County, Ohio. Gilmore can be very wet or fairly dry from year to year or season-to-season depending on the amount of rainfall the area receives. When it is wet it can teem with water related species. The dense brushy borders and edges and the wet woodlands are always great for warblers and other migrant songbirds during spring and fall migration. This is one of the wet years so we can expect a diversity of species on this trip, which is scheduled smack dab in the middle of fall migration.
At one time Gilmore Ponds was privately owned. During the 1980’s the Gilmore Ponds Conservancy, a citizen’s conservation group, was formed to try to protect the area from development. The Conservancy had some success, acquired some land and got the attention of the Butler County Park District, who eventually took control and now owns the property. Today Gilmore Ponds faces a new set of threats but for the time being it is still a wonderful birding site.
Our trip leader Mike Busam is a past President of the Gilmore Ponds Conservancy and remains a vigilant protector and advocate of that site. Mike knows as much, or more, than anyone about Gilmore Ponds past and present. Mike will tell us some of Gilmore Ponds history and answer any of our questions. Mike also happens to be an exceptional birder and naturalist. So come and join Mike during the peak of fall migration. Warblers and migrant song birds should abound and a variety of shorebirds, herons, egrets and other water birds are expected to be present.
Gilmore Ponds has a rich history of rare bird occurrences. Over the years Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons have nested off and on at Gilmore, but more recently Great Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants are also nesting in the heron rookery. To my knowledge these are the first breeding records of Double-crested Cormorants in the southern half of Ohio. A pair of adult Yellow-crowned Night-Herons has been present most of this summer and an immature bird was seen in late August. While this doesn’t prove breeding at Gilmore, it is still very suggestive.
This is scheduled as a half-day trip, which will consist of walking the trails around the ponds. If you expect to see birds you will need binoculars. While the terrain is flat, Mike warns that the walking can at times be a bit on the rough side as some trails may be overgrown and we may have to walk over some damp and muddy spots to reach some favored spots. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear. We also recommend bringing water, sun screen and insect repellent to make your trip more pleasant. Unfortunately there are no restrooms available at Gilmore Ponds. But for those of us who don’t mind stomping the brush there will be plenty of birds to see and a unique habitat to explore. If you have any questions feel free to contact Mike.
Directions: To reach Gilmore Ponds from I-275, take the Route 4, exit # 41, and go north on Rt. 4 for about 2.5 miles. Turn right onto the Route 4 Bypass and go about 1.5 miles to Symmes Road. Turn left onto Symmes and go about ½ miles to the Gilmore Ponds Symmes Road parking lot on the right, directly opposite Bilstein Boulevard.
Link to Butler County Parks:
Link to Gilmore Ponds website (including map):