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Hueston Woods State Park

contributed by Joseph W. Hammond

      This state park is located approximately six miles north of Oxford, OH. It can be reached from a variety of directions and the main entrance is located on State Route 732. However, if you are coming through Oxford on your way to the park, your best bet is to take Brown Road north out of town. This road takes you past several fields and pastures which can make for some decent 50 mph birding. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was spotted along this road near Hueston Woods in January 1996 and February 1997. Brown Roa d will lead you to a T-intersection with Main Loop Road. This is the park's main road system which circles the entire area.

      Going straight through the T-intersection, you will find yourself amidst an old-growth Beech-Maple forest which is excellent habitat for the woody birds. Found here all year are BARRED, GREAT-HORNED, and EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS, PILEATED, RED-BELLIED, DOWNY, HAIRY, and RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and the other typical woodland birds. During both migrations, with spring being the most productive, this woods attracts large feeding flocks of warblers, vireos, and tanagers. Other birds tha t come through in the fall and stay through winter are YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, BROWN CREEPER, HERMIT THRUSH, and WINTER WREN. This is just a few of the species you may find while walking through this extensive old-growth forest.

      If you follow the road through the forest and down the hill, you will come to the fishing pier which provides excellent access to the lake which is about 650 acres in size. The lake gets fair amounts of waterfowl during the fall, winter, and spring. Keep your eyes peeled during the winter because you could get blessed with a look at a BALD EAGLE soaring above the water. COMMON LOONS are becoming more and more frequent during early spring with up to 30 on the lake on the right day. SURF SCOTERS were rec orded in April 1995 (1 which stayed for two weeks) and March 1996 (5 on 3/30). GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have also been recorded at Acton Lake with two individuals in late March, 1996 and five individuals during March 15-23, 1997. In addition to the waterfowl, COMMON and CASPIAN TERNS, and BONAPARTE'S GULL are occassionally seen. Acton Lake hosted a breeding plumaged adult LAUGHING GULL on April 14-15, 1996. GREAT BLUE and GREEN HERONS, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, and GREAT EGRET are present during t he summer.

      If you are coming back up from the fishing pier, Main Loop Road to the right will take you to the nature center and marina area. The nature center has two bird feeders during the winter months. The cattails by the group camp are good places to look for SWAMP SPARROW from fall to spring. A FOX SPARROW could turn up in the same vicinity. The surrounding areas are good places to look for the field and water species.

      Going back the way you came to the nature center and straight past the Brown Road intersection will take you to the dam area after going past the golf course. This is a good stretch of road to car-bird during the spring. The dam area has a nice little cedar grove which could hold unsuspected birds during the right season. There is also a wet area next to the dam embankment that is great for SWAMP SPARROW from fall to spring. The dam itself is a great place from which to view the lake.

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Ned Keller, comments03@cincinnatibirds.com