This time of year in Ohio is the time to look and listen for Ruffed Grouse drumming in southeastern Ohio, the closest area to Cincinnati. I was really tired from the early start at 3:00 am to Friday, to be able to meet Steve, Dave and Harris at 4:25 am to go for the Spotted Redshank. I got awake naturally at about 3:30 or 4:00 am on Saturday, and after a quick breakfast, started driving to Shawnee State Forest and arrived there at shortly after first light.
I listened at four or five locations on Odle Creek Road but heard only Wild Turkey gobblers apparently strutting their stuff for hens. However, this area is great for early spring birding. First, I heard a Brown Thrasher singing, repeating each phrase twice unlike a Northern Mockingbird. Then while driving with my windows down to listen, I heard the sweetly downward slurred song of Louisiana Waterthrush. It is always a thrill to hear this song near the end of March, signaling that Spring really is here! Shawnee State Forrest is one of the best places to find this bird in late March. Then, while walking along the road and listening for grouse drumming, I heard some distinctive sharp calls of a wren, but there were too many notes unlike the two-noted calls of Winter Wren. I thought these calls were probably from a Carolina Wren, a common species in southern Ohio. However, soon a Winter Wren started singing the long series of melodious trills that are flute-like. The Brown Thrasher, Louisiana Waterthrush and Winter Wren are new for the year bringing the total to 200 species. Winter Wren is a bird I was concerned about, because I am headed west and south after this, and could miss this bird in the winter in the east, requiring a chase to their breeding grounds in June or wait until the fall migration. That was a satisfying find.
I continued driving and stopping on Odle Creek Road, but did not hear or see Ruffed Grouse. Last year I saw a Ruffed Grouse on Forest Road 2 just after the intersection with Odle Creek road, but not today.
I drove to Pond Lick Road off of Rt. 125, another road that has been productive in the past for Ruffed Grouse, but without success and continued on to Forest Road 2. I got out and walked a logging road off of Forest Road 2 for about a mile, but did not hear or see any Ruffed Grouse. I drove Forest Road 2 to Twin Creeks Road and drove that to Rt. 125. I did not see a Ruffed Grouse, but by that time it was getting too late in the morning. On Forest Road 2 off of Pond Lick Road, I encountered a displaying tom Wild Turkey in front of two hens. Quite a sight, but no camera out of its bag. They were in the middle of the road until I drove up. Later, I heard and saw two singing Pine Warblers, one near the parking lot along Rt. 125 at the entrance to the lodge and another in the campground area. These are nice confirmations of my heard bird yesterday at Winton Woods Park in Cincinnati.
On my way back home, I stopped at Bass Island to look for Rough-winged Swallows again, but did not find them. At the end of this entry, the total still stands at 200.