Join us for this unique field trip, the general theme of which is nocturnal vocalizations. This has become an annual trip because it has proven to be quite popular over the past few years. If you’re looking for something different you might not want to miss this one. Join our trip leader Brian Keene for what should be a leisurely evening/night walk around the Miami Whitewater Wetlands known as Shaker Trace. Brian is a Zoology Professor at Miami University and is a past president and current board member of our Audubon Chapter. Brian is a skilled naturalist and an expert in vertebrate zoology. His goal on this night will be to find and identify a variety of wildlife by ear.
Brian plans to begin the trip with a leisurely walk around the marsh for about an hour before sunset. On our walk around the wetland, we should see several species of waterfowl, Wilson’s Snipe, Northern Harrier, other hawks and songbirds. There is an outside chance that we could even see a Short-eared Owl, although it is getting a little late for that winter visitor on this date. At dusk we will listen for the raspy flight calls of snipe and the “peenting” of American Woodcock. Once woodcock are located by sound we will be able to watch their courtship displays, at least until it gets to dark to see them. We should hear many and see several. Once darkness has completely fallen we will turn our attention to the amphibian chorus which should be quite loud in this wetland habitat. American Toads, Spring Peepers and Chorus Frogs should dominate the musical, but Wood Frogs and Leopard Frogs might be heard as well. Other species that might possibly be heard during our walk would be our resident owls. There is no guarantee here, but Great Horned, Barred and Eastern Screech are all locally present. Even howling coyotes are possible as they are becoming quite common in our rural areas. We are still a week or two early on this date for rails and bitterns, but they are known for their nocturnal vocalizations as well. So come out and join Brian for what will most certainly be a fun and interesting trip under a night sky.
Note that sunset on March 17th is 7:47 PM and Civil Twilight ends (becomes dark) at 8:14 PM. The trip will consist of level, moderate walking. However the trails through the wetlands are not all paved and can be damp and muddy, so wear appropriate footwear. Heavy rain at the time will cancel this trip but we have set a rain date for the following evening, Saturday March 18th, same time same place.
This trip should end a couple hours after sunset, around 09:45 PM. There are no restroom facilities at the Miami Whitewater wetlands, but they are available in the main park area nearby. It can be very cold in mid-March, especially in a marsh at night, so dress accordingly. Binoculars are not essential on this trip but are highly recommended. A Hamilton County Park Motor Vehicle Permit is required ($3.00 daily, $10.00 annual) at Miami Whitewater for each vehicle. If you have any questions feel free to contact Brian.
Directions: We will begin our walk at 7:00 p.m. sharp from the wetlands parking area on Baughman Road, so try to arrive a bit before 7:00. From I-74, take the Dry Fork Road exit # 3, and turn right. Continue past 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 .6 of a mile to the dirt parking area on the right side of the road, just past the bike trail crossing.
For a park map, directions and other info visit the Miami Whitewater/Great Parks website.