Spring Migration & Wetland Biodiversity

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 in south central Butler County. 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 seasons so we can expect a diversity of species on this trip, which is scheduled at the peak of spring 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.

Migrant and resident warblers (this is a great Prothonotary Warbler spot) and other songbirds should abound. The wetlands should hold shorebirds, rails, bitterns, herons, egrets and teal. Many marsh species which normally breed only in the northern half of the state have been recorded breeding here over the years during wet spring and summers. Over the past few years the resident Great Blue Heron colony has been joined by nesting Great Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants. These are both unprecedented breeding records for our region. Black-crowned Night-Herons are also expected breeders. Osprey and Bald Eagles may put in an appearance. We expect to find a great diversity of species and almost any species that passes through our region can be expected here.

Gilmore Ponds has a long loop trail, with several shorter side trails, and a few observation decks. Our trip leader Charlie Saunders is an excellent birder, an all around naturalist and a long-time ASO advocate. Charlie lives nearby and has spent countless hours birding and exploring Gilmore Ponds over the years. Charlie has a great interest in all facets of nature and will encourage botanizing and identifying butterflies and other wildlife we may see. A short side trip to the nearby Ellis Lake Wetlands (2 miles) may be undertaken if time permits.

This is scheduled as a half-day trip and will end around noon. It will consist of leisurely walking the trails around the ponds. While the terrain is flat, Charlie warns that the walking could be a bit on the rough side as the trails can become overgrown and there may be a few wet or muddy spots. To make your walk more comfortable we recommend waterproof footwear, wearing long pants and bringing sunscreen, insect repellent and water. There are also no restrooms available at the preserve. 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. Butler County Parks requires non-residents to purchase a Motor Vehicle Permit ($10 annual, $5 daily). They can be purchased from Park Rangers if you see one. So why not come out and join Charlie for what will be a great day afield and well worth the effort. If you have any questions feel free to contact Charlie.

Location: Gilmore Ponds is located in Fairfield in south central Butler County. Gilmore Ponds proper is bounded on the south by Symmes Road, on the east by the Route 4 Bypass, on the west by North Gilmore Road and on the north by the Butler County Regional Airport. There is a small parking lot on Symmes Road and a larger parking lot on N. Gilmore Rd. just south of the RR tracks. We will meet in the N. Gilmore parking lot. There are several ways to get to Gilmore Ponds. One way is described below.

Directions 1: 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 1 mile to N. Gilmore Road. Turn right onto N. Gilmore Rd. and go about .6 of a mile to the Parking Lot on the right just before the RR tracks.

Directions 2: You could also take the I-275 Winton Rd exit # 39 and go north on Winton Rd. Be aware that Winton Rd. changes its name to South Gilmore Road in Butler County. Continue north on S. Gilmore Rd to the intersection/stop light at Rt. 4. Go straight, crossing Rt. 4 and immediately turn left at the first light which is N. Gilmore Rd. Go north on N. Gilmore Rd. for about 1.6 miles to the parking lot on the right just before the RR tracks

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