Fairfield County Birding Drive

Ohio Birding Drives
Ohio Birding Drives are routes for birding trips which can be accomplished in one day, stopping to walk and bird at various eBird hotspots. For each birding drive, a Google map is provided with the route and suggested stops at eBird hotspots. You may save the link to the Google map on your smartphone or tablet, or print a copy on paper to take with you. Links are provided with information about each eBird hotspot. Follow those links for more information about birding each location.

Fairfield County Birding Drive
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This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in Fairfield County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.

Fairfield County

Blacklick Woods–Nature Center and Trails (Fairfield County)
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068

From I-70, use Exit 110 for Brice Road north toward Reynoldsburg. Merge onto Brice Road and go north for .7 miles. Turn right onto Livingston Avenue and drive 1.1 miles. Turn right into Blacklick Woods and drive 1.3 miles to the Nature Center parking lot.

The Franklin/Fairfield county line basically follows the western and northern boundaries of the Walter A. Tucker Nature Preserve — areas north (Ashton Pond) and west (Picnic areas) are in Franklin county, and the preserve itself and areas farther south and east are in Fairfield county (see maps).

This 55-acre swamp Tucker State Nature Preserve in Blacklick Woods honors Walter A. Tucker, one of the founding directors of Metro Parks and one of the individuals who helped establish the state nature preserve system. It is designated a National Natural Landmark.

The 100-acre beech-maple forest is one of the least disturbed in Central Ohio. As you meander along the trails amid the beech and sugar maples, you might spy a fox sizing up a meadow vole or watch a white-tailed deer browsing before sundown. Visitors can also enjoy wildlife from the open meadows and fields while picnicking at the park. Seasonal ponds host abundant aquatic and plant life. Blacklick Creek flows south along the eastern boundary of the park. The park features more than six miles of trails for hiking, biking, and jogging.
From Blacklick Woods webpage

Pickerington Ponds–East (Fairfield County)
Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110

From the Blacklick Woods Nature Center, drive 1.4 miles to exit the park by turning right onto Livingston Avenue. In .7 mile turn right onto Baltimore-Reynoldsburg Road and go 1.2 miles. Continue straight onto Hill Road for 1.9 miles. Turn right onto Diley Road and go 1.5 miles. turn right onto Wright Road and enter Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

Pickerington Ponds straddles a county line. Franklin County is on the west side of the park and Fairfield County is to the east. There are several eBird hotspots set up to receive your bird checklists while visiting this park.

Designated as one of Ohio’s Important Birding Areas by Audubon Ohio, Pickerington Ponds is a premier spot for observing more than 260 species of birds. The combination of seasonal ponds and rich wetland vegetation, with bordering woodlands, serve as a magnet for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and land birds.

Located on the southeast side of Ellis Pond is a great blue heron rookery that has held up to 50 nests during the breeding season.

More than 400 acres of the site have been dedicated as a nature preserve. White-tailed deer, beaver, red fox and other wildlife can be seen near the ponds and adjoining woodlots and fields.

Osprey established a nest at Pickerington Ponds in 2008 and have had babies there from 2009 onward. They return in March each year and can be viewed from the observation deck at the Glacier Knoll Picnic Area on Bowen Road, which has a spotting scope.

Take some time to enjoy the colorful nature mural, created by students from Pickerington Elementary School, at the Bowen Road entrance.

Four miles of scenic trails wind through the fields and around the ponds. Bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts can hop on a 0.8-mile section of the Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail at the Glacier Knoll Picnic Area. From Glacier Knoll, the trail extends nine miles west and south to Three Creeks Park. Also from Glacier Knoll, it extends 1.25 miles east to Refugee Road, and from Refugee Road another 2.25 miles to Blacklick Woods Metro Park.
From Pickerington Ponds webpage

Chestnut Ridge Metro Park
8445 Winchester Road Northwest
Carroll, Ohio 43112

From Pickerington Ponds, drive east on Wright Road for .7 miles. Turn right onto Diley Road and drive 3 miles. Continue straight onto Hill Road, in .2 mile turn left onto Waterloo Road, and drive .9 mile. Turn left onto Winchester Road Northwest and drive 2.4 miles. Arrive at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park on the right.

The ridge at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park rises more than 150 feet — reaching an elevation above sea level of 1,116 feet — and is 4,500 feet long. It is considered the first ridge in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, featuring many outcroppings of ancient Black Hand sandstone bedrock. From an observation deck at the high point of the Ridge Trail, visitors can easily see the Columbus skyline, some 19 miles away. Black oak, shagbark hickory, and northern red oak trees grow on the upper slopes of the ridge and enhance the woodland beauty of the 486-acre park. Sugar maples and American beech are plentiful on the lower slopes.

More than 70 species of birds have been counted at the park in a single day. Wood ducks, green heron, and mallards flourish in the park’s wetlands and 2-acre pond.

Chestnut Ridge provides a quick getaway from the noise of the city. Located southeast of Columbus, the park provides hiking trails, picnic areas, fishing for children aged 15 and younger, a playground and—most importantly—peace and quiet. The observation deck is just a short hike from the parking lot and puts you above the treetops for an excellent view.

The park features 2.4 miles of trails.
From Chestnut Ridge Metro Park webpage

Clear Creek Metro Park–Prairie Warbler and Tulip Tree Trails
Rockbridge, Ohio 43149

From Chestnut Ridge Metro Park, turn right onto Winchester Road Northwest and drive 2.8 miles. Turn right onto US-33 east and drive 8.2 miles. Take the US-22 exit west on US-22 and drive .9 mile. Turn left onto Delmont Road Southwest for .6 mile. Continue straight onto Stoney Hill Road Southwest for .9 mile. Turn right onto Hopewell Church Road Southwest and drive 3.8 miles. Turn left onto Clearcreek Road Southwest and follow the road for 3 miles. Turn left on the access road to the Prairie Warbler and Tulip Tree Trails and arrive at the trailhead parking lot in .6 mile.

Clear Creek Valley is one of the most pristine and secluded natural areas in Central Ohio. Variations of land surfaces, soils and climates have produced a medley of habitats that harbor more than 800 plant species and 150 species of birds, many of them rare.

You may catch a glimpse of turkey, deer, ruffed grouse, coyote, black vultures or even see the traces of the elusive bobcat along the park’s 12 miles of trails.

Centuries of glacial flooding have cut the valley through the Black Hand sandstone leaving an array of scenic cliffs and rugged rock formations overlooking the creek.

Oak and hickory forests interspersed with giant hemlocks and ferns, along with the last remaining Ohio colonies of rhododendron, provide the perfect backdrop or a getaway from city life.
From Clear Creek Metro Park webpage

Wahkeena Nature Preserve
2200 Pump Station Road
Sugar Grove, Ohio 43155

From Clear Creek Metro Park return to Clearcreek Road Southwest, turn right and go 1.5 miles. Turn right on Revenge Road Southwest and drive 2.4 miles. Turn right onto Barnaby Road Southwest and go 1.1 miles. Turn left onto Bunker Hill Road for .2 mile, then turn left onto Pump Station Road. The Wahkeena Nature Preserve is on the left in 3 miles.

Wahkeena Nature Preserve is open from late March to early November, Wednesday through Sunday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

As a nature preserve located at the very edge of glaciations, Wahkeena has a unique position in Ohio. The Hocking Hills region is made up of Blackhand Sandstone, which held back the flow of ice during the age of glaciers over 14,000 years ago. However, one lobe of ice extended down the Hocking River valley to Sugar Grove, 1 mile east of Wahkeena, and on the north, the glacier halted .5 mile from the preserve.

As a result of this unique positioning, the hills, and valleys of Wahkeena support plants that would normally be in a more northern climate and also some southern species. The hemlock trees which line the Shelter Trail are the most notable northern examples, while rhododendron and mountain laurel represent the south.
From Wahkeena Nature Preserve webpage