31 December 2019

I missed last year’s end of year hike due to illness. Luckily the Christmas virus caught me over Christmas so I was healthy and ready for the hike this year. It was lead by Angela, the new naturalist on staff at the preserve. I am looking forward to learning more from her. Forgot to take the phone with me, so no pictures.

The Setting

We started at 08:00 this time, a little earlier than previous years. It should have made spotting the crepuscular animals easier. Except for the wind that kept everything that relies on hearing laying low. I saw a few snowflakes on the drive to the preserve but none while we were hiking. It was 37 degrees when I arrived with a wind chill of around 20.

The Hike

We walked out through the northwestern wetlands to look at the beaver habitats. The beavers thrive here. Several lodges are found on the preserve, some with muskrats cohabiting the lodge. I always thought the muskrats moved in after the beavers had moved on, another learning for this year.

We picked up the Hickory trail after checking out the beaver meadow and were surprised by a bald eagle overhead. That was my first at the preserve. I usually see one or two along the Great Miami River. I figured the red tail and Cooper’s hawks had Fernald to themselves.

Entering the woods around 10:30 we could hear each other better. Much warmer with the trees breaking the wind. Walked through the hardwoods and up to the hickory grove on the north line. We saw some red-bellied woodpeckers, kingfishers and a couple gray squirrels. Surprising few deer, but it was noisy for them.

The group returned to the visitor’s center for a warming break and to figure out how to get everyone to the lodge pond at the entrance before returning to climb the on-site disposal hills. My knee was pounding so I oped to head home for a knee wrap. The car showed that it had warmed up to 39, although I cannot say that I could tell the difference.