Battelle Darby Metro Park- Dyer Mill Trail

Every October or November I walk a particular trail at a park I like, making a day out of it.  I am looking for migrating sparrows, but I also enjoy the landscapes and varying environments along this trail.

Battelle Darby Metro Park is 7,100 acres located on the western border of Franklin County.  It has a variety of habitats from wetlands, prairies, fields and riverine woodland along a national scenic river, Big Darby Creek.

I grew up not far from this park, and it’s always been a favorite of mine.  It has miles of trails to walk, and the Dyer Mill Trail is one I take every autumn looking for sparrows migrating through the area.  Here’s some photos I took of my latest hike there.

The trail goes through a field towards some woods at the start.  It was a cold and frosty beginning.

The Dyer Mill Trail is named after an historical 19th-century mill that was located nearby at the confluence of Big Darby and Little Darby Creeks.

 

 

Frost covered the vegetation.

A pair of Song Sparrows- very common year-round birds- called from cover as I passed by.

A bat roosting house sat in the field on stilts.  Parks are becoming more bat-friendly as it is realized that bats are beneficial to humans, keeping the insect population in check.

Honeysuckle Bushes were covered in berries.  These invasive plants are frowned upon by naturalists, but they do provide calories to birds in cold-weather months.

The path left the field and entered second-growth woodland consisting of younger trees.

 

Bushes and young saplings added their unique late-autumn colors to the landscape.

This Downy Woodpecker was one of many I saw in the woods.

As I walked along the path, the woods got more mature, with Oaks predominating.  some of the trees still had their leaves- this hike I missed the peak autumn color season.  Don’t worry, you can find some old posts I made about the autumn color show here and here.

Some of the Oaks still had color left in them.

This Crow was pecking at a nut it had carried up into a tree.

 

This White-Tailed Deer buck stared at me a while as I took pictures of him.

The path emerged from the woods out into a large expanse of fields.

Occasional Goldenrod was still in bloom, though most of it was brown and seeding, providing food for many birds.

Distinctive Horse Nettle berries were seen here and there in the grassy fields.

 

 

These fields were havens for the Sparrows I was looking for.  There were many White-Throated Sparrows, a common migrant and winter bird in Ohio.

This is a White-Crowned Sparrow, an immature fellow not in his full adult plumage, but handsome nonetheless.

A male Eastern Towhee, a large Sparrow living here year-round.  Often seen scratching the leaves on the ground looking for food, they can be heard calling to each other with their distinctive ‘wree’ call.

There’s a picnic table in the middle of this large remote field that I like to inhabit.  I sit down, have a snack, and read my Kindle while keeping an eye and an ear out for nearby birds.

This Blue Jay stopped by to check me out for a while.

Eventually I moved on.

I entered another wooded area, following the path through a shrubby thicket.

A Gray Squirrel kept an eye on me.

A Carolina Wren observed my progress, calling out loudly.  These small birds are very loud when they want to be.

You have to look closely to see what’s around you- this younger doe was eating foliage not very far away.

This woodland was made up largely of Maple Trees.  A week or so ago, they would have been in their full yellow glory.

This wilting Pokeweed still had some purple berries that hadn’t been eaten yet.

Occasionally I’d run across a vine that had grown to mammoth proportions, as thick as a young tree.

There was still some leafy color in the canopy above me.

I was surprised to see this Tall Bellfower still blooming!  The woods must have sheltered it from the frost.

The path passed close by Big Darby Creek.  I heard a loud splash and though I didn’t see it, I’m pretty sure I had heard a River Otter rush out of the water and into a safe space in the thickets along the creek.

Robins foraged in the woods.

A flock of Cedar Waxwings searched for berries.

This Pileated Woodpecker- North America’s largest Woodpecker- ate Wild Grapes it found high in a tree as I watched.

A small spider wandered across a picnic table along the creek.

I chatted a while with Pat, a friendly Metro Parks volunteer who was walking the trail.  He told me that the Dyer Mill Trail was a favorite of the naturalists at the park.  I understood why!  It wasn’t as heavily-used as other trails, and therefore you could see more of nature close up.  The Metro Parks system is a jewel of the central Ohio area, and Battelle-Darby Metro Park is a highlight of the park system.  I’m a big fan.