Each fall, the trail cams come down for maintenance and are rehung for the next four seasons. Paul installed the north trail through the floodplain several years ago, opening that area to bird watchers and hikers of all species. It’s a popular resting stop for migratory songbirds. Birder Deb captures beautiful photos there as they flit through.
Here are a few photos that feature the humans who passed the camera on that path. It begins with David, the master who keeps the trail cleared and curbs the further spread of invasive plants species.
The birding team of David Smith and Deb Weston are stepping up their Quarry Farm game again in anticipation of fall migration. As we watered and fed the farm animal sanctuary residents, Deb’s car passed the front gate sometime around 7 this morning. Shortly thereafter, a large heron-ish bird flew up from the nature preserve and overhead. To say that it flapped its great wings in its journey southwest just doesn’t sound like the correct adverb for such a graceful movement.
“So jazzed to see the Great Egret,” texted Deb from the trails. She said that David and his wife Julie have seen them in Putnam County. “But it was super cool to see it in the quarry actively hunting—until it saw us.”
There was a Great Blue Heron stalking the quarry wetland, not far from the egret, and one lone female Wood Duck. They heard but didn’t see the Red-breasted Nuthatch and were pretty certain that they saw an Ovenbird but neither of them felt confident enough to add it to today’s ebird list. Today’s list also included nine warblers: Black and White, Tennessee, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Bay-breasted and Blackburnian.
“Our record for fall from last year is 42 and that’s what we got today,” Deb added.
The Quarry Farm tally on ebird is now at 138 species.
As Deb waits in the leafy shadows for landing birds, she trains her hefty camera on insects. Gerald O. Coburn would be thrilled. He photographed and documented most of the dragonfly and butterfly species noted here, as well as many birds. Deb told me last week that she would have really liked my dad. I told her that I think the admiration would be mutual. Dad would have seen her car pass by his own driveway, fired up his ATV and firmly directed her to grab her camera and hop on, wasting no time to see everything that sought warmth and breakfast with the sunrise.
The last time students from Ohio Northern University (ONU) spent part of Ada Community Engagement Day, or ACE Day, at The Quarry Farm, COVID-19 wasn’t a household word. The word ‘pandemic’ prompted grainy images of people wearing masks and schools, theaters and businesses shuttered worldwide in 1918 because of Spanish flu.
Super Dave Seitz hadn’t yet taken on invasive bush honeysuckle in the nature preserve. The first incoming ONU freshman who volunteered here as part of the ACE Day tradition lopped and hauled honeysuckle from the western bank of Cranberry Run. Then Dave began his frequent pilgrimages from Columbus and rocketed our invasive-clearing program 10 years ahead of schedule. So when the ONU ACE Day committee asked if we had any projects for participants of their 10th school year—one with a return-to-normal beginning—we jumped at the chance to host a building-painting crew.
Two of the farm animal sanctuary outbuildings are over 100 years old. They are solidly framed structures that were donated to us as long as we moved them from their original sites. In their current function for storage and henhouse, they are subject to lots of perching, head-and-tail scratches, snout rubs, and general body flopping (often with a fresh splash from a mud wallowing.) They both needed a good coat of best paint to prolong their structural integrity and general all-around sightliness.
Ten people came and went to work. The morning was coolish and sunny so the animals were ever-present. Paint cans and brushes were lofted to keep curious bills, beaks and muzzles out. Silkie the Donkey insisted on being a third wheel—rather, a second head atop a shoulder—and had to be encouraged to move along. The Canada geese wrestled with paint can lids and drips. Bruce the Bronze Turkey kept one young man very close company by planting himself directly behind his knees.
“He’s like a shadow or a ghost,” said one person. I explained that Bruce had claimed a new human friend and was making sure that turkeys Edgar and Bernard knew it.
In just an hour and a half, both buildings were covered except for the highest peaks and one big pig-sized full-bodied mud rub and a snout print. One person was surprised that goats weren’t “more involved”. Other than a few shirt-sleeve nibbles, the bovids were interested but unaffected by the whole procedure.
“This was the best site,” commented the ONU faculty who worked alongside the Polar Bear undergrads. “After a long week, ‘Painting with Animals’ was very therapeutic.”
Storm clouds gathered and spilled an hour after the ONU van drove south down 7L. The rain was not quite strong enough to wash Nemo’s nose-and-thigh art from the buildings, but there’s a solid slather of paint beneath to seal the old hardwood for good long time.