Or just a birder? Ohio, along with most of the Midwest and eastern USA, is in the middle of cold snap, our coldest winter weather in years. Just how many years depends on which weather report you listen to; I have heard 2, 5 or 15 years. Today's high was 10. Tonight's low is predicted to be -4. That is actual temperature, folks, not including wind chill factor, which is supposed to make it feel like -20 or something.
What do I have planned for my weekend off? A trip to The Wilds of southeastern Ohio, for an OOS Winter Birding Field Trip. In conjunction with The Wilds staff, the Ohio Ornithological Society has been sponsoring this trip for the last three or four years. You see, not only do the thousands of acres of wide open grassland support exotic animals, The Wilds property is also a mecca for winter raptors. A Golden Eagle is seen here nearly every year; in fact, one was reported earlier this week. Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls are practically guaranteed. Merlin is a possibility. Two years ago, a Prairie Falcon, a western species, spent the winter at The Wilds.
Besides raptors, many great passerine species can be found at The Wilds: Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and Eastern Meadowlark, name just a few, are hoped for. One of my main target birds is the Northern Shrike which occurs sporadically. This would be a Lifer for me. If there is any open water, ducks like the Long-tailed may be found.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Wait for the bad news: Despite all this great birding potential, The Wilds is one of the windiest places in Ohio. On a good day, the temperature feels 20 degrees lower than wherever you have just come from. And this weekend, with the already bone-chilling, mind-numbing frigid weather, it is gonna be, in the words of the great Science Chimp - "Brutal."
Yeah, I'm a birder. And, I am crazy. The two things are not mutually exclusive.
Wish me luck!