Looking for a way to explore nature? Birds are everywhere and birding can become a great skill and a fun hobby. Through my own travels exploring the sights and sounds of birds, I’ve discovered the scenic Erie Islands in Ohio.
Pack your binoculars and soak in the beautiful trees and skies. May is an especially good time to visit the Erie Islands, which are a major migratory route for warblers.
On my adventure to these islands, expert birders led us through true sanctuaries, including the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, a 2,200 acre state wildlife refuge near Put-in-Bay, Ohio. We also took a one-day field trip to South Bass Island, just off Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada.
This Road Scholar learning adventure is designed for a small group of eager learners and seasoned birding enthusiasts, and is led by a very experienced and knowledgeable naturalist and birding expert.
My group included nine participants and two or three experts for each walk. Our birding experience ranged from myself, a novice, to three avid birders, a few other newcomers and several who were eager to hone their birding skills. We all worked together to help each other find and identify those little warblers flitting around in the middle of trees.
One of the highlights of the trip was exploring alongside researchers. They used bird banding to identify and report on birds. The team used a mist net to capture the birds for examination and banding. They weighed the birds, measured their body fat and recorded their sex before banding them and releasing the birds back into the park. I learned some fascinating things — did you know that the common red wing black bird has orange wings for his first two years?
This Road Scholar learning experience included the history and ecology of the Bass Islands. With Put-In-Bay as our home base, we also visited a winery, a nature center and other islands.
If you are a birder, this is a trip you should put on your must-do list for next spring. By the way, it fills up quickly, so plan ahead!
Patti Phelps has embarked on over a dozen Road Scholar learning adventures. She is a retired teacher, administrator and fundraiser who has worn many hats through her career. After raising her family in Colorado, she moved to North Carolina with her husband after retirement so they could pursue their love for sailing.