Tuesday, September 25, 2018 Elyria 70°
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Outdoors

Winter is for the birds -- watching them, that is

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    A cardinal enjoys the warm weather this week at Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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For nearly a full month, most days offered us freezing temperatures, snow and the inability to go outside without wearing multiple layers.

Figuring this week would be more of the same, I planned to go ice fishing with a couple of friends with the hope of sharing the experience of catching big walleye in this week’s column.

But with the temperature topping 60 degrees Monday, finding good ice became tough. So with a temporary break in temperatures, I decided to go outside and hike, having the luxury of simply doing so in springlike weather.

I headed out to Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville hoping to find some neat photo opportunities while also enjoying the rare warm day in January. There was a decent amount of people out. I had my camera handy but didn’t find much to shoot other than our state bird, the cardinal, some ducks and geese.

I was able to photograph some of these birds as I’ve started to enjoy bird watching more and more. After investigating the snowy owls in a column I wrote before Christmas, birding has caught my interest. Before then, my extent of birding around Northeast Ohio stopped and started with the hummingbird feeder I put up in my front yard every April, or the great horned owl hooting outside my bedroom window every night.

After picking up a park magazine, I started browsing and couldn’t help but note the opportunities and events that cater to bird watchers and those interested in birds of all types.

Lorain County Metro Parks has the events on its website, including Lake Erie birding tours, hikes looking for owls and other raptors and educational seminars. In the coming weeks there are also shorter- distance hikes lasting about an hour that focus on finding and photographing winter birds.

You can get a full listing of the hikes, birding events and other happenings online at www.metroparks.cc. These events are not exclusive to particular locations and are spread out across multiple reservations in the Metro Parks.

The birds I encountered on my hike are birds we usually see on a daily basis. But observing them in nature and enjoying a 60-degree day in January is something we can’t always do.

Anyone from Northeast Ohio is fully aware the warmer weather won’t be the norm in the coming weeks. The snow will fall and temperatures will drop again. Don’t put away the winter gear just yet.

Winter Days

Winter Days at the Carriage Barn of the Vermilion River Reservation will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Without much snow on the ground and rain in the forecast, it may not completely feel like “winter,” but the park is making accommodations to move some things indoors.

Winter Days will still happen with a full run of events for the whole family to enjoy.

The Carriage Barn and Benjamin Bacon house and shelters will be used for the sled dog events and some of the ice carving activities. Some of the events are cooking demos, sled dogs and some ice displays. There will be food for purchase, too.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.

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