WCAS Virtual Field Trips offer up a multi-faceted learning experience by blending individual initiative, live experience in nature, building skills in digital media scrapbooking, and over time, grow community relationships through new, shared online experiences.
Virtual Field Trip Report
By Michelle Brosius, WCAS Board Member & Field Trip Co-Coordinator
In July 2020, Western Cuyahoga Audubon kicked off the Virtual Field Trip series of bird walks, designed to be enjoyed independently or with members of your household. There are up to two ways to participate in the program. You can visit the month’s designated field trip location and report back to myself regarding your experience. These reports can take the form of bird species lists, journaling, photography, etc. I will then compile your submitted items into a digital scrapbook that is published on the wcaudubon.org website and shared across our social media platforms. The second way to participate is to join me for the virtual meetup on the WCAS Virtual Conference Center during which I present the scrapbook and encourage discussion. Since the program began, we’ve had people participate in both events or just one or the other, depending on availability, mobility, or interest.
Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve (CLNP) was our October location in which participants searched for fall warblers, kinglets, and sparrows. The kinglets and warblers were easier to find earlier in the month, though present throughout, whereas sparrows were plentiful throughout. We had six participants visit CLNP during the month to provide content for the scrapbook that was shared on social media and at the virtual meetup for discussion. Three participants scored lifers! Al Rand saw a Sedge Wren and Purple Finch, Shaun Missig saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet and a Saw-whet Owl, and I saw a beautiful Marsh Wren for the first time. Nancy Howell was the month’s overachiever for visiting the preserve seven times and tallying a total of 79 species!
In November, five virtual field trip participants visited Richfield Heritage Preserve in search of Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. Corey Ringle, President of Friends of Crowell Hilaka, was WCAS’s guest speaker at a Speaker Series earlier in the year and piqued my interest in visiting the preserve. Therefore, when virtual field trip participant, Mary Ann Henderson, requested this location I was more than happy to oblige, and November with its fall colors seemed to be the perfect month to showcase the location. The preserve has a very interesting history as most of the land was formerly owned by inventor James Kirby for many years before it was purchased by the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio. The land served as a Girl Scout Camp for 80 years before becoming a preserve managed by Richfield Joint Recreation District in 2014. We enjoyed hearing about Mary Ann’s experience at the location, which was nostalgic as she camped there as a Girl Scout and as a leader! Tom Fishburn was granted an off-trail permit and took some beautiful photographs of Kirby’s Mill and “Secret Falls” that he shared. Overall, the location was gorgeous and birding was what you would expect for November. Woodpeckers and Nuthatches were seen by most, and Eastern Bluebirds and a Belted Kingfisher were a joy to see.
December’s location was Sandy Ridge Reservation in which participants hoped to see the American Tree Sparrow and winter waterfowl; e.g., American Black Duck. Preliminary reports from participants indicate these species were, in fact, seen; however, the submissions are still being received and the scrapbook is still in development at the time of this article.
Upcoming Virtual Field Trips
Note: All programs are hosted at the WCAS Virtual Conference Center
Virtual Field Trip February 2021
Dates: February 1-28, 2021
Location: Cleveland Metroparks: Bradley Reservation, White Oak Ln, Westlake, OH 44145 Park Map
Featured Bird Species: Black-capped Chickadee
Notes: This location is considered a swamp forest and includes a walking path around a lake and over two miles of hiking trails.
Virtual Field Trip March 2021
Dates: March 1-31, 2021
Location: Cleveland Metroparks: North Chagrin Reservation. Suggested site: Oxbow Lagoon, accessed just south of Squire's Castle off Chagrin River Road Park Map
Featured Bird Species: Red-winged Blackbird
Notes: Your visit can include anywhere in North Chagrin Reservation, but we are looking for Red-winged Blackbirds which are found at Oxbow Lagoon. Squires Castle is also a fun site from which you can observe birds. The Nature Center is closed, but the surrounding trails, Sunset Pond, and Sanctuary Marsh nearby are a great place to look for birds.
Virtual Field Trip April 2021
Dates: April 1-30, 2021
Location: Lucia S. Nash Preserve, 16429 Snow Rd, Burton, OH 44021 Park Map
Featured Bird Species: Sandhill Crane and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Notes: Owned by the Ohio Nature Conservancy, this preserve opened in Summer 2020 and no historical eBird data exists for the month of April. Let's change that! You can walk the Barbara A. Lipscomb Snow Lake Trail in search of our target species and much more!
Above: Watch WCAS Virtual Field Trip to Richfield Heritage Preserve November 2020 Meetup Recording
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