Sunday, November 26, 2006

Glacier Ridge Metropark

On this unseasonably warm afternoon, Megan and I trekked out to Glacier Ridge Metropark, near Dublin, Ohio, in northwestern Franklin County. The first time I heard about this park was from John Watts, Natural Resources Manager for the Columbus and Franklin County Metroparks system. I was just a student then in Oxford, and he came to our agriculture and ecology seminar class to tell of a wetland restoration project at one of his areas. This was Glacier Ridge. We arrived there today about 1:00 p.m., and it was very warm, at least 65. The park sits up high. The setting is former agricultural fields. Flat agricultural fields, surrounded by huge houses. We pulled into the driveway and noticed the gargantuan steel and wood observation tower, probably at least 2 stories high. Cool. It stood out like a beacon. The wetlands created had some open water areas, and these areas were surrounded by narrow leaved cattail. Not exactly the most diverse place, but these wetlands have only been around for 5 years or so. Right away I noticed something very cool. Some type of Meadowhawk dragonfly. These guys are fairly common even in the most disturbed wetlands, but seeing them 4 days before the start of December was very cool. Altogether we saw two individuals flying about the parking lot, landing on the asphalt walking path and the wooden benches, trying to warm up in the low, afternoon sun. I thought to myself, what other cool stuff would we see?

As we walked to the large restroom/deck area, I peered over the railing, across the 20 feet of water, to the line of cattails. On several cattails sat perched bullfrogs. I counted 4, Megan saw a fifth. Pretty cool to find these guys so late in the year, but since we have had almost a full week of warm temperatures combined with sunny skies, I suppose this was not all that surprising. We saw about 20-30 mallards fly overhead, a few decided to drop down and into a distant, shallow wetland. A biker on the trail noticed my binoculars, and asked us if we were birders as he pedaled by with his kids. After saying yes, he told me about some shots of a hawk he had taken, I will presume a red-tailed hawk, about 30 minutes earlier. It was eating the remains of a furry rabbit, I presume an eastern cottontail. Pretty cool. I've never seen a hawk eating anything, let alone a rabbit!

Megan and I headed back to the car. We saw three American Coots diving in the open water of the cattail wetland. Not a bad little walk.


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