I’m going to do the occasional travelogue post that chronicles a trip I take, because it’s fun. Here’s a recent all-day trip I took.
Hoover Reservoir Park and Nature Preserve
and various other birds with a couple of plants thrown in for good measure
Hoover Reservoir is a substantial body of water just to the northeast of Columbus, Ohio. It was created in 1955, the third and largest reservoir to supply water for Ohio’s growing capital city. In addition to being a water resource, it is a popular boating, fishing and recreation area, not to mention a notable wildlife preserve in central Ohio. This spring, I decided to drive around the 8-mile long reservoir and stop to see the various natural areas along the shoreline. The Ohio Ornithological Society website gave me some nice tips on what to look for. Here are some of the sights to be seen- warning, this is a big post, there was plenty to photograph!
Hoover Dam holds back 5 square miles of water along the Big Walnut Creek watershed. That’s 20 billion gallons of water on hold for central Ohio households. Not to be confused with a more famous dam of the same name out west, this Ohio dam was named for brothers Charles and Clarence Hoover who had distinguished careers in the City of Columbus Waterworks Department.
Here are some views of the dam and the surrounding reservoir.
I went climbing on the rocks and saw lots of spiders hopping quickly in and out of crevices. I think these are some kind of Fishing Spiders.
A banded Canada Goose hangs out in the park area.
Turkey Vultures hung around early in the morning; they took off soaring low over the dam causeway once the breeze picked up.
A Killdeer tried to lure me away from the area by the waters edge- that means juvenile birds were close by. Sure enough, there were 4 of them.
The water that comes over the dam filters down through a marshy area to continue on as Big Walnut Creek, 8 miles after the creek had been turned into a reservoir.
Mud Hen Marsh
A nature preserve area with bluebird boxes and a series of ponds near the reservoir. Keep an eye out for Bald Eagles nesting in the area, and deer are common here.
This House Wren sang furiously on the edge of the small parking lot.
Ground Ivy is a handsome ground cover wildflower, particularly if it isn’t mowed 🙂
That’s one well-escorted gosling!
This pair of Mourning Doves were taking a stroll ahead of me on the path. Funny how birds like paths as much as humans do.
This island in the reservoir is connected by a narrow causeway that can be subject to flooding. It’s a popular place for fishermen and birders alike. A great waterfowl spot.
There are narrow paths along the shoreline. In March, I saw large amounts of Yellow-Rumped Warblers here.
This Palm Warbler was singing on territory, and aggressively chased off other birds that got too close.
There are some nice houses in the area, as well as some older houses that have been around a while.
Hoover Meadows Park
Hoover Meadows is a former cow pasture that was turned into a 75-acre park in 1990. Many volunteers helped get this park into shape. It now features fields, treelines, a pond, wetlands and succession wooded areas, with a liberal sprinkling of bluebird nesting boxes. The highlight of my visit was an American Woodcock that flushed out of the wet woods just feet away from me in an explosive rush of wings. It happened too fast to get a photo, unfortunately.
Waterfowl here included Canada Geese, Mallards, Blue-Winged Teal and a pair of Wood Ducks. They were rather vocal about me showing up!
Here comes the Blue Jay crew!
Butterweed- a frequent sight in fields and wet areas in spring.
This Eastern Towhee sang constantly.
A Field Sparrow in its favorite element.
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows staked out nesting boxes. House Sparrows looked interested as well.
An American Goldfinch hangs out near a caterpillar nest.
The last places I visited were all in the little town of Galena, located at the northern end of the reservoir.
Weise Road Greenway Trail
This greenway is a part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, a work in progress whose aim is to cross the whole state.
At a rest stop, sponsors who helped build the trail had bricks with messages on them under the benches.
A Belted Kingfisher flies overhead towards the reservoir, its loud rattling call distinctive.
A Starling sings near its nesting hole in a dead tree. Bald Eagles have been seen perching here.
This area is a bridge of land between the reservoir and a flooded woodland area. This is a prime area that volunteer Charlie Bombaci placed Porthonotary Warbler nesting boxes in (250 of them and counting). When you see Prothonotaries at Hoover, thank Charlie! This area is full of interesting things to see.
This little fella was digging in the watery mud for lunch.
The causeway is occasionally flooded.
This is a popular place for fishermen and birders. One fisherman told me that last year he had a Prothonotary Warbler that would come up to his car and look at its reflection in the side mirrors!
The Prothonotary nesting boxes are out in the flooded woods.
A male Prothonotary has his box picked out. Now to find a mate!
This has to be one of the most beautiful birds in North America.
Back at the parking area:
A young starling buzzes in a tree. This is the season to hear those odd calls.
Galena Mudflats Boardwalk
Finally, this boardwalk goes out onto the reservoir for a good look at life on the lake. There’s all sorts of things to see.
This fisherman had caught 4 fish so far when I asked him.
This rather large fish was on the other side of the boardwalk, keeping away from the rods and reels!
An Eastern Phoebe on territory nearby. Catch all the mosquitoes you can!
This Common Loon got fairly close to the boardwalk. They are solitary diving waterfowl- there’s been a lot of them around this year.
A seagull with a fish in its beak.
There’s a lot of water out there.
Suddenly, a Common Tern streaked by.
A Cormorant- a familiar sight around reservoirs.
An Osprey flew by with a fish in its talons. It was headed to its nesting platform to feed a nestling.
I headed back.
A flock of Great Egrets flew overhead.
A Tree Swallow was on the rail of the boardwalk, and didn’t seem to be too worried about me and other passers-by.
Over on a nearby perch, a pair courted.
The rail swallow flew acrobatically, even weaving in and out of the boardwalk fencing. Talk about an expert flier!
What a great day, and a great trip.