I could go to this hotspot any month of the year and be rewarded with plenty of birds, but Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in Franklin County is especially good in October. The Teal and Harrier Trails in the Darby Plains Wet Prairie Restoration is one of the best places in central Ohio to find a rare “orange sparrow” – that is, a Nelson’s or LeConte’s Sparrow which are sneaky and rare through Ohio in migration in the spring and in the fall in late September and early October. You’re also likely to find large flocks of thousands of staging blackbirds, including Rusty Blackbirds. These can often be difficult to track down in Ohio, but are rather frequent at Battelle during certain parts of the year. Even in October, the Battelle wetlands could be a decent shot for some late-migrant shorebirds, or early-migrant waterfowl and Short-eared Owls!
The Teal and Harrier Trails are connected trails through prairies and wetlands in the Wet Prairie Restoration. The trails provide a 3-mile, moderate hike on grass.
There are ponds in the prairie restoration which are not on a designated trail. To reach the “back pond” at the southwest corner of the restoration, park at the Cedar Ridge area, carefully cross Darby Creek Drive at the entrance to Cedar Ridge, turn left and walk along the roadside and farm field for a few hundred feet then turn a right at the tree line. There is a mowed down “trail” that goes straight along the edge of the woods and the back pond is on your left about .75 mile down that trail.
Battelle Darby Creek is the largest Metro Park with more than 7,000 acres of prairies, fields and forests, and more than 20 miles of riparian forest along the Big and Little Darby Creeks. The Darby creeks are noted nationally for their tremendous diversity and abundance of both aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals.
Designated state and national scenic rivers, the creeks are home to around 100 species of fish, five of which are endangered in Ohio. Forty-four species of freshwater mussels live in these waters, eight of which are on the Ohio endangered list.
Metro Parks has restored about 500 acres of wetlands, 500 acres of wet prairies and more than 500 acres of lush flowering prairies using only seeds native to the Darby Plains. The entrance road to the Indian Ridge Picnic Area is a great place to enjoy the splendor of such beauties as purple coneflower, royal catchfly, prairie dock, big bluestem and other wildflowers and grasses.
The park features more than 18 miles of trails and several scenic areas for picnicking.
Restrooms on site.
Content from Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park webpage and Kandace Glanville, Ohio Ornithological Society