Crane Creek: Where Time -- and the Birds -- Stand Still

By Mike Mencotti

Macomb Audubon's field trips can go a long way in proving that Einstein was right: Time can get a little warped under certain circumstances. It may not be gravity that pulls people to Crane Creek in early May; it's the warblers. But force can be just as profound, and a lot more fun.

About 12 birders with reckless tendencies descended on the Ohio state park on May 1, defying the Weather Channel's prediction of all-day rain. What a great decision as only a spattering of rain dampened the day, but certainly not the enthusiasm. The boardwalk at Crane Creek is a one-mile loop tops. But it took this group about 4.5 hours to walk it, certainly not the amount of time it would normally take anywhere else. And you don't have to be an Einstein to figure out why.

This slow-poke pace was quite rewarding, with more than 20 species of warblers observed, including a Kentucky and a Hooded. Other highlights had to be a Whip-poor-will that was "staked out" horizontally on a branch, an Eastern Screech Owl that moved from a thick tangle to a knot in a tree, and a couple of Black-billed Cuckoos that sat in the open for so long that we almost got bored looking at them. That boardwalk loop rarely fails to turn up great views of wonderful birds, often 3 or 4 vying for our attention at any given time.

On to Ottawa NWR next door. This was quite soggy, but we were able to get "learning looks" at the differences between Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers. What a great way to sort of those subtle differences! All in all, the group tallied more than 90 species for the day.

Now, if the early bird gets the worm, then the persistent birder gets that extra warbler, as Ken and Heather Slayton drove that extra mile on their way home to stop at Metzger Marsh to investigate a small tract of woods there. They were rewarded with a Prothonotary in a bunch of knee-high warblers.

Einstein may have thought of that time-warp theory first, but I'll bet we had more fun than he did.