Oxbow and Lower Great Miami River Valley

One way for birders and naturalists to beat the heat of the August “dog days” is to go out in the evening. So that’s what we’re doing on this field trip. The focus of this trip will be birds, specifically early fall migrants through the Oxbow and the Lower Great Miami River valley. That’s right, I did say fall. While the calendar and temperature tells us it is still late summer, the southbound fall migration of shorebirds (sandpipers & plovers), long-legged waders (herons & egrets) and several other species begins quite early and will be well under way by this date. So come out and join our trip leaders, son and father team Jack and Jay Stenger, for what should be a pleasant late summer evening in the Oxbow area. These two guys are skilled and expert birders who know the area inside and out.

Shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) need exposed mudflats, shorelines and sandbars where they forage for their invertebrate food at waters edge. When they find areas that have these favorable conditions during their southbound migration they will stop, rest and refuel, so to speak. During most years the Oxbow area and the lower Great Miami River provides good to great habitat for them. Late summer is usually a fairly dry season locally and the water levels in the lakes and ponds in the Oxbow are usually lower than normal at this season, exposing shoreline and sometimes creating mudflats, the preferred habitat of shorebirds and waders. The nearby Great Miami River usually has exposed sand bars at this season as well and the adjacent gravel pits, particularly the shallow pit, also attract their share of birds.

In addition to several species of shorebirds, we expect that we will find numerous Great Egrets and herons including Great Blue, Green and Black-crowned Night-Herons. This is also a great time of year to find an unusual or rare species such as Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret (but not guaranteed). Purple Martins and other migrating swallows’ can “stage” in very large numbers in the Oxbow during this month and several species of terns, Osprey, Bald Eagles and a diverse number of other early fall migrants are all quite possible if not likely. With most of our summer residents still present as well, we should find a good diversity throughout the late afternoon and evening.

Jack and Jay plan to hit several spots in and around the Oxbow including Lost Bridge over the Great Miami. This trip will end around what will most likely be a beautiful sunset. It is usually hot at this season, even at this time of day, so we suggest bringing sunscreen, insect repellant and plenty of water to make your visit more comfortable. There are no restrooms available in the Oxbow, but there are plenty of businesses nearby. Feel free to contact Jack or Jay if you have any questions.

We will meet at the Oxbow parking area which is owned by Oxbow Inc. To get there from I-275 take the Lawrenceburg Indiana/US 50 Exit # 16. At the end of the long exit ramp turn left/south on US 50. Almost immediately, within about 200 yards, turn left onto unmarked Walnut Street was is just past the Shell/Subway and before a Waffle House. Drive over the levee to where the road T’s. There will be a fence directly in front of you. Turn right and go about 100 yards to the Oxbow entrance sign. Turn left into the Oxbow. The parking area is immediately on your right. You can also use Google Maps and search for “Oxbow Nature Conservancy”.

*Note that this is a late afternoon & evening field trip.

Leave a Comment