This trip requires two blogs, one here at WPWB, another at Two Talons Up to cover the fantastic birding activities.
After some solo trips, and a few overnighters together, this trip would be our first multi-day multi-campsite adventure. As we continue learning about teardrop camping, we continue to make small adjustments and improvements. On this trip, we developed a better food plan, managed our refrigeration better, and agreed our bedding needed upgrading. We also learned how to keep our stuff clean(er) and dry(er) and how to better manage gas mileage.
We stayed at four different campgrounds over eight days and improved our efficiency setting up and breaking camp.
On the way home through Ohio, we stopped by NuCamp and got a tour of the factory where our little "Puff" teardrop trailer was manufactured. Very cool. They do such quality work.
Pilot Mt. State Park
We decided to make our first leg of the trip short, very short, helping us to get settled into a routine before heading into Ohio. Pilot Mountain is something I have often looked at while driving north into Virginia so this was a good opportunity to take a closer look. It was also a good opportunity to get some preliminary birding done, especially the hunt for spring Warblers. Good practice.
The campground was nicely laid out, each site being a decent distance away from the next. and plenty of shade. There are no electric sites so we relied on our battery power. The 3-way frig comes in handy when we camp without power, the frig works nicely using propane.
We took a leisurely approach to packing up the next morning, taking time to bird and have a good breakfast.
Salt Fork State Park
Towing a trailer for hundreds of miles is more tiring than normal driving, so we chose Salt Fork State Park to break up our drive to Lake Erie and Magee Marsh.
Salt Fork is a very large Ohio state park, with an equally large campground. It also has a golf course and lodge. Very birdy!
Salt Fork State Park is a public recreation area located six miles north of Lore City in Guernsey County, Ohio. It is the largest state park in Ohio, encompassing 17,229 acres of land and 2,952 acres of water.
We had a nice relaxing time, both visits, one headed north, the other headed home.
Maumee Bay State Park, Magee Marsh and surrounding area
Our destination! You can read more about why we came to Magee Marsh at Two Talons Up. In short, the southeastern shoreline of Lake Erie attracts thousands upon thousands of migrating warblers, most headed up from Latin and South America, and the Bahamas. They rest and refuel at Magee and surrounding areas before heading into Canada and their breeding grounds.
Each year there is a festival put on by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ohio DNR, and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. It is called the Biggest Week in American Birding.
We camped at Maumee Bay State Park for 5 nights, 20 miles west of Magee, and each day explored nearby birding "hotspots", especially Magee Marsh and Ottawa NWR.
The frequent rain and cool temperatures did not slow us down, much. We just kept an eye on the radar and went where and when the rain was not.
Magee Marsh has a LONG (about 1 mile) boardwalk through the swamp, and as you can see in the photo, there were lots of people on it. Everyone was so polite and considerate of others. Depending on environmental conditions, the warblers can sometimes be very low and close.
We can't wait for next year to return for another walk on the boardwalk of Magee Marsh.
Magee Marsh, situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, is a prime stopover for North American warblers during spring migration. Every year thousands of birders, photographers, and nature lovers flock to this location in spring to witness the unforgetable spectacle of large songbird concentrations preparing to migrate across the great lake toward their breeding grounds in the north. Many birders make the trip annually. Some have been doing so for twenty five or thirty years. Magee Marsh is just one of those special places that you have to come back to year after year.
What do you get when, instead of strict regulations, you allow small and big agriculture to self-police? - GREEN LAKES! Works for St. Patricks Day, but as you can see by reading the sign in the photo, it ruins recreation, fishing, the entire ecosystem collapses.
A thick layer of green slimy algae covered Lake Erie last week, expanding hundreds of square miles and raising water quality concerns among scientists.
These algae blooms are not new, they've occurred several times since the early 2000s but appear to be increasing in both size and frequency. This has caused repeated concerns over the environmental ramifications in the lake, which is used for everything from recreation to irrigation to drinking water. In total, 3 million people rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water. FORBES
Video highlights of campgrounds
For a complete report of our birding please go to TWO TALONS UP
Last stop, Stony Fork Campground, Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
Sheree suggested we find a place to camp a little further from home than Pilot Mt. State Park. I had feelings of deja-vu as we followed the brown National Forest campground signs off of I-77 into Jefferson National Forest. I remember Dad relying upon national forests for many of our campsites.
This one was just perfect for weary travelers - quiet, shady, with a lovely mountain stream winding through.
We can't wait to go back. Now, please click over to Two Talons Up to read and see more of the birds of northern Ohio in May.