Neo-tropic song bird migration, while still underway, begins to dwindle in early October. However the fall migration of one family of songbirds, sparrows, doesn’t really get underway until the month of October in our region. The cattails, sedges, grassland and brushy areas that dominate the Shaker Trace tract of Miami Whitewater Forest, provide the perfect habitat for a host of common and not so common sparrow species.
Nelson’s Sparrow, an otherwise extremely rare migrant through our area, has become an annual and regular migrant at the wetlands, and is seen fairly often here during the first half of October. We have a good chance of finding one or two of that elusive species. Lincoln’s Sparrow, an uncommon migrant in our region, is also expected at this time of the year. Many other species of winter sparrows could also begin to trickle in by the first of October. A long shot, but the right habitat and near the right time of the year, would be the rare LeConte’s Sparrow. Based on past experience we can expect some surprises and a mixed bag on this trip. Lots of migrant passerines, shorebirds, early waterfowl, raptors and even early winter residents are all possible on this trip to one of our area’s finest wetlands
Sparrow ID can be a little tricky but our trip leader, Ned Keller, an expert birder and the current President of our Audubon Society, will help us sort them out. Ned has a wide interest in all aspects of nature and will not ignore any interesting flora and fauna we see along the way. The weather might prove to be the star of this trip as early October usually produces mild temperatures and pleasant weather. Fall color will also be underway and will make a picturesque backdrop to what should be a pleasant morning walk.
The trip will consist almost entirely of walking. The walking will be fairly moderate (slow) over level terrain. But the trails through the wetlands are not paved and can be damp and muddy at any season, so wear appropriate footwear. This trip should end around noon. If time permits, Ned may make a quick visit to nearby Fernald Preserve. If you expect to see birds binoculars are necessary. There are no restroom facilities at the Miami Whitewater wetlands, but they are available nearby in the main park. A Hamilton County Park pass is required ($3.00 daily, $10.00 annual) at Miami Whitewater for each vehicle.
Directions: We will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the wetlands parking area on Baughman Road. From I-74, take the Dry Fork Road exit # 3, and turn right (north). Continue past the intersection of West Rd, and stay on Dry Fork until it ends. Turn right onto New Haven Road. At the first stop sign, turn left onto Oxford Road, and then immediately left again onto Baughman Road. Go about .7 mile to the dirt parking area on the right side of the road, just past the bike trail crossing. Contact Ned to answer any of your questions.
Directions to Miami Whitewater as well as maps and other information can be found at the following website: