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.
Pickaway County Birding Drive
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This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in Pickaway County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.
Slate Run Metro Park
1375 OH-674 North
Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110
From US-33, take the OH-674 exit toward Canal Winchester. Turn right onto OH-674 and drive 2.4 miles. At the traffic circle take the second exit onto OH-674 and go .7 mile. Turn right onto OH-674 and drive 4 miles. Turn right into Slate Run Metro Park and continue keeping right for 1.6 miles to the main parking area.
The entire park is “birdy” and, during the last twenty years, over 200 species of birds have been identified here! Check the Ohio Ornithological Society website for ideas on where to find birds for each of the seasons. Also, a description of specific habitat locations is included there. If you have time, visit the Kokomo Wetlands Trail and the Five Oaks Trail.
Slate Run Metro Park isn’t resting on slate rock — settlers mistook the dark soil for 350-million-year-old slate. It’s actually shale, a soft rock made from clay deposited by water about 350 million years ago. Slate Run features a variety of habitats ranging from the open areas of grasslands, wetlands, and meadows to the forested areas of beech, oak, hickory and sugar maple. Red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, indigo bunting, belted kingfishers and numerous other birds and wildlife can be seen at the 156-acre wetlands. More than 70 species of birds have been spotted there.
The park features Slate Run Living Historical Farm where visitors can learn about and help with chores on a working 1880s farm. About 12 miles of trails wind through the fields, forests, ravines and grasslands. Visitors will cross a restored 1800s covered bridge on one of the trails.
From Slate Run Metro Park webpage
Stages Pond State Nature Preserve
5300 Haggerty Road
Ashville, Ohio 43103
From Slate Run Metro Park, turn right onto OH-674 south and drive 5 miles. Turn right onto Ashville-Fairfield road and drive 4.8 miles. Turn left onto Walnut Creek Pike for .5 mile. Turn right onto Campbell Road and go 1 mile. Turn left onto Ward Road and arrive at Stages Pond State Nature Preserve on the left in .4 mile.
Stages Pond is an example of one of the distinctive features of glaciated areas, a kettle lake. As the glacier receded from this part of present-day Pickaway County, an immense chunk of ice broke free and remained behind to be covered with accumulating sands, gravels and other glacial debris washing off the melting glacier. When the land-locked ice mass finally melted, it left a great depression in the landscape.
Today, some 30 acres of this 64-acre depression lie under water with two adjacent marshy low areas in the central and southern parts of the depression. These areas, coupled with adjacent field and woodland areas, offer an opportunity to explore a number of habitats, each with its own unique array of species.
In the spring and fall, Stages Pond is a refuge for a wide variety of waterfowl which stop during migration to rest and feed on the pond and marshy areas. Summer residents include a nesting community of great blue herons and many species of shorebirds. The oak-hickory uplands and open fields support populations of songbirds, quail, pheasant, and several hawk species.
Stages Pond is equally diverse botanically. Aquatic, field, woodland, and marsh species abound from April to late October, although the spring season offers the most variety in the form of colorful native wildflowers.
From Stages Pond State Nature Preserve webpage
A. W. Marion State Park
7317 Warner Huffer Road
Circleville, Ohio 43113
From Stages Pond, drive south on Ward Road for .7 mile. Turn left onto Hagerty Road and drive 1 mile. Turn right onto Walnut Creek Pike and go 1 mile. Turn left onto Bell Station road and drive 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Winchester Road and go .9 mile. Turn left onto OH-188 for .2 mile. Turn right onto Bolender Pontious Road and go .6 mile. Turn let onto Warner-Huffer Road for .4 mile. Turn right onto Riegel Road for .2 mile. Turn left onto Wesley Park Drive, turn right again on Sharon Drive, and arrive at the main parking for A. W. Marion State Park.
A. W. Marion State Park, located in Pickaway County, can attribute its natural wonders to glaciation that occurred more than 12,000 years ago. As glaciers advanced over more than two-thirds of Ohio, vast amounts of rock and soil (or till) were deposited over the landscape. This till had a direct effect on the natural vegetation that occurs at A. W. Marion. The surface of the park is fairly level and the soil very fertile.
The area is diverse with woodlands, plains, and prairie. Ohio’s prairies, products of an ancient dry climate, are really small versions of the most extensive grasslands in the western United States. This eastern portion extends into Ohio and is part of the prairie-forest border or tension zone. Within this zone, the grasslands increased in size during droughts, only to be reinvaded by forests during wet periods. Before settlement began, scrub oak barrens, dense thickets formed by this shrub, were common in the region but have since been cleared for raising crops.
The nearby floodplains of the Scioto River are adorned with a variety of wildflowers. Wildlife indigenous to the area includes fox squirrel, ring-necked pheasant, a variety of songbirds, red fox, and white-tailed deer.
From A. W. Marion State Park website
Circleville, Ohio 43113
From A. W. Marion State Park, exit the park on Sharon Drive. Continue on Wesley Park Drive which turns right and becomes Riegel Road. Turn left onto Warner-Huffer Road for .4 mile. Turn left onto Bolender Pontious Road and drive 1.5 miles. Turn right onto US-22 west and follow US-22 for 3.3 miles. Turn right to merge onto US-23 south and drive 4.9 miles. Turn right onto Radcliffe Road. Less than a mile ahead, the wetland lies on either side of the road in a swale.
Less than 10 acres in size, most of it inaccessible without trespassing, Charlies Pond is a small remnant of the prairies of the old Pickaway Plains. This patch of wetland includes a cattail-ringed area of open water on the north, and a swampy area with tussocks, puddles, and small trees on the south. There are no trails, and the area cannot be legally explored beyond from the road without permission. Traffic is minimal, and the area can be surveyed by pulling off to one side of the road and looking around. Look for waterfowl, swallows, a few shorebirds, and blackbirds, in the proper season and the usual denizens of agricultural areas in nearby fields. One interesting spot lies further west: take Radcliffe to its termination less than a mile ahead, turn right, and proceed a few hundred yards to a culvert where a canal extends to the right, with a marshy area on the left. Waterfowl, such as Mallards and Hooded Mergansers, have bred here, along with Virginia Rails; decent numbers of shorebirds appear in migration, along with pipits, etc. The whole area was once productive for Smith’s Longspurs, but none has been reliably reported here for more than 25 years.
From Ohio Ornithological Society website
Deer Creek State Park
20635 State Park Road 20
Mount Sterling, Ohio 43143
From Charlies Pond, drive east on Radcliff Road for .9 mile. Turn left onto US-23 north and drive 4.5 miles. Take the US-22 and OH-56 exit toward Circleville. Turn left onto US-22 west and drive 1.2 miles. Turn right onto OH-56 west and drive 4.6 miles. Make a slight left onto Yankeetown Pike and drive 3.9 miles. Turn right to stay on Yankeetown Pike and drive 7.2 miles. turn left onto Waterloo Road for .7 mile. Continue onto Waters Road and drive 2.1 miles. Arrive at the main parking lot for Deer Creek State Park.
If time permits while you are in the park, look for birds at the Beach, if it is not too busy, and at the Egypt Pike Wetland.
Deer Creek State Park lies on the eastern edge of the great till plains of Ohio. These plains receive their name from the glacial debris, or till, which is a mixture of sand, silt and gravel that was deposited by the glaciers. As glaciers advanced across the northern two-thirds of Ohio, most hills and valleys were covered and filled in by the till, leaving this part of Ohio relatively flat.
Today, these rich plains in the park’s region support corn, soybeans, and wheat. The first settlers to the area did not find these open fields. Except for a few small prairie openings, the region was covered by dense woodlands. A regrowth of the original woodlands can be found scattered along the ridge tops and creek bottoms of the park.
Wildflowers abound in the fields and woodlands of the till plains. In spring, common flowers are Dutchman’s breeches, rue anemone, trillium, spring beauty, and bloodroot. Summer months produce thimbleweed, wild lettuce, jewelweed, and daisy fleabane. In autumn, the most abundant flowers are aster, goldenrod, and chicory, whose roots were used by settlers to make a coffee-like beverage.
The best-known animals of the Deer Creek area include amphibians such as the chorus frog, spring peeper, and American toad. Reptiles include box and painted turtles, black rat snake, and eastern garter snake. Numerous mammals inhabit the park. Most of them are small and include the red fox, raccoon, opossum, woodchuck, skunk, rabbit, deer mouse, and white-tailed deer. Deer Creek is known for its population of ring-necked pheasants. Other birds of the area include eastern meadowlark, song sparrow, cowbird, eastern bluebird, barn swallow, and woodcock.
From Deer Creek State Park website
Deer Creek Wildlife Area
Mount Sterling, Ohio 43143
From Deer Creek State Park, exit the park on Waters Road and continue on Waterloo Road. Turn left onto Yankeetown Pike and go .9 miles. Continue onto Cook Yankeetown Road for .7 mile. Turn left onto OH-207 south and drive 5.1 miles. Turn right onto Egypt Pike and go 2.5 miles. Arrive at the Middle Wetland on the left.
From the Middle Wetland drive southwest on Egypt Pike for .7 mile. Turn left to continue on Egypt Pike for .3 mile. turn left onto Walnut Street and go to the intersection with East Street. Arrive at the East Street Wetland.
The 4,220-acre wildlife area is in central Ohio, four miles south of Mount Sterling on OH-207 and adjacent to the 1,277-acre Deer Creek Lake.
The topography is flat to slightly rolling. The soils are mostly well drained and of medium to high productivity. Approximately 1,000 acres of row crops and small grains are under cultivation annually. Controlled burning and native warm season grass plantings have also been introduced as part of the wildlife management program.
About 25 percent of the wildlife area consists of second growth hardwoods and brush in advanced stages of succession. The timber stand is mainly on the east side of Deer Creek It includes oak, hickory, elm, black walnut, ash, maple, locust, sycamore, and cottonwood. The uncropped remainder of the area is in permanent meadow, reverting fields, wildlife food plots, and prairie grasses.
Wildlife management plans provide for the maintenance and protection of existing woodlands, establishment of field sizes and crop rotations beneficial to wildlife, improvement of open fields for wildlife nesting, and the establishment of annual food patches for general wildlife use. Permanent wildlife cover has been provided through the planting of native prairie grasses such as switchgrass, big blue stem, and Indiangrass.
From Deer Creek Wildlife Area webpage