When it comes to playing in the outdoors, mid-Ohio has the woods, trails, lakes, waterfalls and awe to keep any visitor entertained. When you bring them all together in an event-packed weekend, the experience goes up a notch with 22nd annual Mohican Wildlife Weekend (MWW) – ”a celebration of wildlife, habitat, heritage and natural history.”
Recently, hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts and the casually curious descended upon the nine plus program areas in Richland and Ashland counties, giving everyone free and easy access to spring green colors, birds, waterfowl and outdoor education. There were over 40 (yes, that many) program categories for MWW 2023, distributed across the two counties.
At Pleasant Hill Lake Park (PHLP) an archery range was set up to appeal to those wanting practice and those that had never held a bow before. You could shoot at 3D foam target deer and raccoon, and for the elite, one could aim at the balloons tied to the targets. Two pre-teen boys were helping run the station, leading by example as the bows had holes to string the arrow through, to assist with accuracy.
Also at Pleasant Hill, osprey birding tours were a big hit. You can view the osprey nest live cam on their website and observe the Osprey at any time.
“We’ve sold out all day long. We did online tickets this year and people are loving it,” one of the bird tour guides said.
Gail Laux, executive director of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and one of the founders of the event, was pleased with the way the weekend was going.
“Personally, I enjoyed meeting the attendees on our birding boat tours. Many make going to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary an annual event, others it was their first time visiting, and a few families were supporting their children's interest in birding. All good sports considering the chilly, wet weather,” Laux said.
“I always enjoy learning people's stories and enjoying time together admiring the beauty around us. We saw the eagles feeding their young, osprey, numerous duck species, and a Great Blue Heron pluck a fish right out of the water while in flight, which was a first for me!”
In the open air of the wagon, visitors got an in-depth look at Ohio’s raptors and colorful water fowl that surrounded Pleasant Hill Lake.
Oh the places you can go for a Mother's Day out
On the deck of the PHLP visitor’s center, members of the Buckeye Chapter of the American Gold Miners Association were teaching kids how to pan for gold. Yes, there’s real gold in them there hills! Specifically, along the associations gold claims on the Clearfork/Mohican River.
The participants took dirt and sand deposits, sifted them though water and tried to find their own hidden treasures. Both locals and visitors can join the association for a small monthly fee and get access to the gold claims, not to mention the Gold fest that happens every year.
Inside the visitor’s center, they were making survival bracelets and crafts. Parents especially loved this as kids got to check off motor skills, history, culture, all while walking away will some new, dare I say, bling.
At Malabar Farm State Park, the horse teams were out in the fields, plowing like early Ohio settlers did in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
When the sun set, the adventurers didn’t, as participants were able to access “Big Blue,” the 36-inch telescope in Bellville. Big Blue is one of the biggest “amateur” scopes in the world and the mirror itself cost $26,000.
'Big Blue' telescope in Bellville serves as a main attraction for stargazers
Moving from one reservoir to another, Charles Mill Lake Park (CMLP) hosted a water cycle program in the Messerly Recreation Center. After a scenic drive along the lake, Messerly sits at the end of a peninsula, with great water views from all the windows. On the inside, the fire that was made did the typical cracking sound as a water table and water cycle wheel were shown to the kids.
Sure, water is around us everywhere, but the program allowed kids to track where they find water as it relates to how they use water. The “hydrologic cycle” showed the children why waste and pollution matter, and through interacting with the table, could see the impact in live time.
Learning and understanding nature happened inside and out, as programs involved combing through streams, walking the banks of the lakes and even coming face-to-face with “creatures of the lake.”
Next year, Mohican Wildlife Weekend’s theme will be “Wild Nights,” focusing on nocturnal animals and night time activities.
“Ohio Bird Sanctuary will be the site of the Keynote. We will have completed the new Avian Area and hopefully the renovations on the Visitor Center. We’re looking forward to sharing these improvements with the attendees and increasing the quality and diversity of our live bird presentations,” Laux said.
To learn more about Mohican Wildlife Weekend and get a preview of next year, visit their website.