2021 Self-Guided Fall Nature Hike Series
Self-Guided Fall Nature Hikes
This fall we’re excited to announce a series of 4 self-guided birding hikes throughout Columbus parks. Our self-guided hikes will give you all the information you need to get on the trails, learn the birds, and find the species you’d like to see. Visit any time at your convenience and be sure to let us know what you find!
WBU Self-Guided Fall Nature Hikes 1/4
Late August-Early September
Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park – Teal Trail
- What you’ll need:
Binoculars - A spotting scope is also helpful but not necessary
Insect repellant and/or long pants – ticks and mosquitoes can be prevalent
*Remember to always keep your optics away and covered while using insect repellants. The spray can severely damage the coatings on both the glass and barrels of your binoculars.
Waterproof boots – the trail can be muddy or the grass wet, boots can also help keep ticks at bay
Water – always hike with plenty of water
Sunscreen and/or hat
- Where to go:
The trailhead parking lot is located at 1378 Darby Creek Drive. You will start on the Harrier Loop and the veer left onto the Teal Trail. The Teal Trail is 1.5 miles of mowed grass trail. If you do not wish to do the full loop, you can walk out along the water’s edge and turn around after you pass the main pond viewing access. This trail is in full sun, and there are no resting points.
- What to look for:
Shorebirds: Look for shorebirds in muddy patches, shallow ponds from rain, and harvested farm fields on your drive into Battelle Darby, and along the left side of the Teal Trail. Some shorebirds look similar, so it is helpful to study before you go. Know what field marks and behaviors to look for on certain species. For example, Spotted Sandpipers this time of year may not have spots, but they often bob their back half as they walk. Look for Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Wilson’s Snipe, and Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers.
Waterfowl: When you reach the pond, and flying overhead, you may observe a variety of ducks and waterfowl. Keep an eye out for Wood Ducks, Mallards, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, and American Black Ducks. Wood Ducks may call in flight, listen to their call before you arrive.
Marsh Birds: Along your way, listen for the following marsh-loving species: American Bittern, Least Bittern, Green Heron, Sora, Virginia Rail, and Marsh Wren. Use the Merlin app, Sibley app, or Xeno Canto website to study the calls before your trip to familiarize yourself with these species. Remember to never broadcast calls loudly or attempt to use recorded calls to try to attract the birds, especially while they may be nesting. If you hear bird calls that you’re unfamiliar with or cannot remember in the field, it is acceptable to quietly play the call by holding your phone to your ear or using headphones.
You may see the following swallow species while you’re hiking: Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Purple Martins, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Bank Swallows, and Cliff Swallows. Watch the skies for Common Nighthawks and Chimney Swifts who are gathering to begin their migrations.
Sparrows, Finches, and Warblers: It is also helpful to study the calls of sparrows before visiting Battelle Darby. By studying the common species, you’ll be able to easily pick out something unusual, should you happen to find something like a Henslow’s Sparrow. Familiarize yourself with the songs and calls of Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Field Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow, as these will be the most common species you’ll encounter. Study your field guide ahead of time to know what field marks, such as wing bars, eye rings or lines, bill color, streaking, etc. to look for. American Goldfinches are common in the prairie areas, especially feeding on wildflower seeds.
Raptors: Red-tailed Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks are common, and throughout September, Northern Harriers should begin arriving.
- Helpful materials for studying ahead:
Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America by David Allen Sibley
*The Sibley Birds 2nd Edition app is also extremely helpful for comparing birds in the field with your smartphone and learning calls
The Shorebird Guide by Micheal O’Brien, Richard Crossley, and Kevin Karlson
Beginner’s Guide to Shorebirds by Donald & Lillian Stokes
Sparrows & Finches of the Great Lakes & Eastern North America by Chris Earley
eBird – eBird can be helpful in seeing what has been recently seen at the location you’re planning to visit. Remember that eBird reports are from birders, just like you, and while reports can be extremely helpful in knowing what to expect, not all reports are exhaustive or always accurate.