Southwest Lorain County Circle Birding Drive
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.
Lorain County Southwest Circle Driving Tour
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in southwest Lorain County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio. This is a good drive to do during the winter.
Thanks to Patricia A. McKelvey for designing this birding drive.
Lorain County Regional Airport–Russia Road
44050 Russia Road
Elyria, Ohio 44035
Starting at the Lorain County Regional Airport, park in their small pull off along fence on Russia Road and scan the airport grounds and check for birds perched on fencing. In the winter, this is a good place to scan the open fields across the street from airport for Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and winter raptors.
Please view birds from the roadside only. Do not enter the airport property. Birders have been arrested for doing so. Infractions could close the area to bird watchers.
43885 Parsons Road
Oberlin, Ohio 44074
From the airport pull off, turn right on Russia Road and take the first left on Oberlin Road. Scanning open farm fields and road edges, take Oberlin Road until it ends at Parsons Road. At Parsons Road, turn left and go until you reach Oberlin Reservoir on the right.
The Oberlin Upground Reservoir, also known as Parsons Reservoir, is number 38 on the Lake Erie Birding Trail. From late fall until the reservoir freezes, huge numbers of gulls, ducks, and geese often congregate. Their ranks can include nearly every species of regularly occurring diving ducks, as well as many species of dabbling ducks. Hundreds of Ruddy Ducks and American Coots often gather.
At the Reservoir, check for waterfowl and gulls on the water as well as Bald Eagles in the surrounding trees.
18207 West Road
Wellington, Ohio 44090
From Oberlin Reservoir, turn left on Parsons Road and take the first left on West Road. Take West Road until it “jogs” left and then right at Kipton Nickle Plate Road, continuing to scan open farm fields and road edges along the way, until you reach Caley Reservation on the left.
Caley is a semi-developed park reserved for wildlife and nature study. Its 507 acres include wetlands, forest, fields and two large ponds. Wellington Creek runs roughly through the middle of the reservation. In addition to bird watching, two popular activities include wildflower hikes and fishing, but visitors are welcome to simply come and enjoy the quiet and natural beauty of this unique park.
At Caley, you can take a trail, check meadows, or check pines for birds.
From Caley, turn left back onto West Road and take it until it ends at Webster Road, continuing to scan open farm fields and road edges along the way. Turn right on Webster Road and take the first left on Hawley Road. Take Hawley Road until it bends to the right at Pratt Road and bends to the left back on Hawley Road. At this point you’re skirting around the back side of Findley State Park and will see many pines. Take first right on Bursley Road until it ends at OH-58 and turn right on OH-58. The first road on left will then be Griggs Road where you can access Wellington Wildlife Area or, continue on OH-58 and Findley State Park entrance will quickly come up on the right.
The 200-acre Wellington Wildlife Area area is 2.5 miles south of Wellington and is bounded on the east by OH-58, on the north by Griggs Road, and on the west by Clark Road. Topography ranges from gently sloping to nearly level. The soils are well drained and of moderate to high fertility. Three parking lots are situated off Griggs Road and one off of Clark Road. A wheelchair accessible trail is located off Griggs Road.
Findley State Park is 838 acres are mostly forested and support an excellent diversity of woodland breeding birds. Noteworthy nesters include the Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Veery, nine species of warblers, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A nearly 100-acre lake in the center of the park often attracts loons and various diving ducks in migration. Mature pine plantations sometimes lure boreal irruptive species in winter, including Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, and both crossbills. The park’s woodlands can be fabulous in May and September for songbird migration.
There are several places to view Findley Lake, including the swimming beach, picnic area, and boat launch. Nearby Wellington Reservoir attracts more ducks and geese than this small lake, but it is worth checking. In the winter the campground often harbors Red-breasted Nuthatches.
From Ken Ostermiller
From Findley State Park, turn right back onto OH-58 and take the first left on Jones Road. Take Jones Road until you reach Wellington Upground Reservoir on the right and Wellington Reservation on the left (across the street from each other).
A spotting scope is especially helpful at this reservoir. There is parking for handicapped placarded vehicles at top of the drive to the boat ramp. You can observe birds from the boat ramp with a scope. The 2-mile walking trail around the reservoir can provide closer views of birds.
From Ken Ostermiller
Wellington Upground Reservoir is known primarily for the large numbers of waterfowl that stop in fall migration. Nearly every species of diving duck can be seen, sometimes at one time. Massive numbers of American Coots and Ruddy Ducks also gather in late fall. Common Loons can be expected, especially in April and November. Osprey and Bald Eagles are regular visitors.
The 550 acre Wellington Reservation was developed in 2005 through collaboration between the Metro Parks and the Village of Wellington and provides opportunities for hiking, biking, strolling, fishing, boating, and wildlife observation. Over 4 miles of paved and crushed stone trails meander through the Wellington Reservation’s grassland fields and wetland habitats. The loop trail system can be used for non-motorized activity and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Each loop highlights a different section of the park providing visitors with a variety of vistas across the lake, from atop an elevated observation mound, and throughout the intermittent wetlands in the grassland prairies.
The Killdeer Loop and Prairie Circle trails give access to excellent wetland habitat. Park in the south end of the parking lot and access these crushed stone trails from the paved Lakeside Loop trail. Birding here involves a bit of walking but the habitat is excellent providing fairly close views to birds. It is not necessary to carry a spotting scope.
From Wellington Reservation, turn left back onto Jones Road, checking open field and pines across street from Wellington Reservation for Bald Eagles and their nest in pines. Take Jones Road to Quarry Road, turning right onto Quarry Road. Take Quarry Road from Wellington to Oberlin, scanning farm fields and road edges along the way. In Oberlin after crossing US-20, take the first right onto West Hamilton Street and take first left onto South Pyle-Amherst Road. From South Pyle-Amherst Road you can access Pyle Road Reservoir and Wildlife Area, or continue on South Pyle-Amherst Road and take first right onto Morgan Street. From Morgan Street you can access Westwood Cemetery or Oberlin Arboretum.
Pyle Road Reservoir and Wildlife Area is the site of the former Oberlin city water supply. Park at the golf course next to the nature preserve. From the parking lot, take the gravel lane toward the woods and come back out of woods at the base of the reservoir. Walk along the base of reservoir dike until you reach a small path leading back into woods. There are tall pines, shortly after entering back into woods., where Long-eared Owls sometimes roost.
From Patty McKelvey
Westwood Cemetery was dedicated on July 16, 1864, and is Oberlin’s only cemetery. It is located in southwest Oberlin on Morgan Street. Westwood is owned and operated by the City of Oberlin and contains about 9,200 burials. Today many residents walk, jog, and bike the pathways of this peaceful and picturesque memorial park.
The Oberlin Arboretum is the southernmost point on campus: a beautiful preserve with trails, creeks, bridges, and, of course, trees. Along with the wooded section, the Arb also has a reservoir, split into two lakes. The sides of the reservoirs make perfect sledding hills during colder months. Each season is lovely in the Arboretum: crocuses bloom in early spring, grass thickens in summer, leaves burst with color in the fall, and snow blankets the area in winter. Varied academic departments—biology, rhetoric, environmental studies, and photography, to name a few—use the Arboretum to collect data and have field lessons.
Oberlin College purchased the 17-acre Ladies’ Grove in 1892 to develop it as a nature preserve. At the time, the grove was considered one of the only places appropriate for women to walk and enjoy nature. Alumnus Charles Martin Hall bought 77 acres of the property surrounding the grove to establish a full-fledged arboretum. Since then, the Arb has become a favorite of runners and stargazers, hikers and birdwatchers, as well as anyone who wants to take a long walk in the woods.
From Westwood Cemetery or Oberlin Arboretum, taking a right back onto Morgan Street and following it will take you back to OH-58 and even work your way back to Lorain County Regional Airport to complete the circle.