Scouting Trip: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio
Sunny, mid 80s, blue skies
My husband and I took a spur of the moment road trip a couple hours over to Ohio this weekend to scout a potential monarch migration site, and we were once again delighted with our find.
Ohio’s state parks have always been a family favorite for us. Most of them have lovely lodges with huge fireplaces and views of lakes or forests, and the hiking is consistently rewarding.
ONWR, though not a state park, was as divine as any place we’ve visited. If all national wildlife refuges are designed as well as this one I may have to add more to my monarch migration journey.
The beautiful 3-story visitors center looks brand new, though I overheard a staffer telling someone it’s now twelve years old. Front and center was a monarch rearing station where I observed a caterpillar and newly eclosed female.
A wonderfully informative man named Doug showed me his personal photos from last year’s rare roosting event that occurred at the corner of North Estuary Avenue and Trumpeter Trail. Doug is a volunteer Friend of ONWR whose enthusiasm for monarchs was exciting to experience.
Just through the back door of the visitors center is the monarch waystation, filled with ironweed, asclepias, coreopsis and many other native plants in bloom. I found my first free-flying monarch of the day there.
Because this weekend was the International Butterfly Blitz my husband and I counted monarchs as we hiked out to Lake Erie on a trail that borders Pool 1 (the trails are not named).
The plentiful asclepias was blooming, some with pods already formed. Most visitors to the flower heads were dragon and damselflies– I have never seen so many! The butterflies were moving briskly, making my picture taking difficult.
We counted 19 on the way out but later as I check my photos I noticed one was a viceroy. I couldn’t capture every one on my camera so I’m not certain how many we may have mistaken for monarchs.
After our hike here we drove the short distance to Maumee Bay State Park for lunch and a brief but lovely hike along the boardwalk through the wetlands and woods. Maumee Bay has a monarch waystation area adjacent to its nature center, but our count on the trail amounted to only four. By this time of day the temperature had reached into the 90s, so perhaps the butterflies were having an afternoon siesta.
We hadn’t been here in a dozen years but it was as well-kept and user-friendly as ever.