Youth Conservation Corps – Week 2 Roundup

Week 2 of the Youth Conservation Corps is complete! We had a fun-filled learning experience, packed with adventures in Wildwood Metropark, Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve, and Kitty Todd Nature Preserve.

20140624_113311On Tuesday we took a geology field trip at Wildwood Metropark with Dr. Timothy Fisher of the University of Toledo.

20140625_104837Ryan Schroeder, the local district preserve manager of the Ohio Natural Resources Department, gave us an exciting tour of Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve on Wednesday.

20140625_105126We found all sorts of interesting critters in the water at Irwin Prairie, including crayfish, tadpoles, and snails!

20140626_100622We visited Kitty Todd Nature Preserve on Thursday. Ryan Gauger of the Nature Conservancy gave us a great trek through the savanna and prairie at the preserve and showed us several rare plants!
20140626_095739 We learned a lot about the role of fire in the Oak Openings. The kids also got to see what kind of safety gear practitioners of prescribed fire wear on the job.20140626_110950After the nature walk with Ryan, we worked hard to clear away encroaching woody plants on the preserve.

This year’s program is already halfway complete! We are striving to get kids interested in nature by immersing them in our local natural areas and creating positive, memorable experiences for them. Through hands-on activities and instructive lessons, we hope to make the Oak Openings region a more meaningful place to our youth.

Youth Conservation Corps – Week 1 Complete!

The Olander Park System’s Youth Conservation Corps is underway! This program runs for 4 weeks from June 17th to July 10th. It aims to teach middle school children about environmental conservation and increase their awareness of the Oak Openings Region. Here are some photos from the first week of activities. More to come!

Learning how to prepare and plant a native bed at Olander Park

On Tuesday we learned how to prepare and plant a native bed at Olander Park.

On Tuesday we thinned encroaching plants around newly planted saplings!

On Wednesday we thinned encroaching plants around newly planted saplings at Sylvan Prairie!

On Thursday we planted native plants at Pacesetter Park

On Thursday we planted native plants at Pacesetter Park…

On Thursday we also rescued native plants from a property that is likely to undergo development.

And also rescued native plants from a property that is likely to undergo development.

Next to come: Adventures during Week 2!

Loon & Horned Grebe

There is again a Common Loon swimming around on Lake Olander!

We also saw a Horned Grebe on the Lake today!  That’s the first time we’ve seen one of those here!

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe photo by black_throated_green_warbler [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bald Eagle Pair

From late fall to late January, we had a pair of bald eagles visiting Olander Park almost every day. One day in late fall / early winter, we saw three eagles at Lake Olander! But then one of them chased another one away. This was likely territorial behavior … getting the newcomer to stay away from the pair’s territory.

Bald Eagle Flying

by John & Karen Hollingsworth / USFWS

When Lake Olander started freezing over this winter, the eagle pair was here every day, perching over the small holes of still open water,  watching the ducks and geese and occasionally eating one! Then once the lake froze over completely, we stopped seeing the eagles. Where did they go?  We had learned that they had been hanging out at Camp Miakonda a lot in the fall and winter. We had also seen them at Sylvan Prairie Park. But in February, we figured out that they had picked a spot to build a nest along Ten Mile Creek! One day we saw them lining their large stick nest with soft materials, and then we saw them mate!

We’re not sure if they will successful lay and hatch eggs this year. But we’ll be watching, and we’ll let you know! We aren’t the only ones watching. Toledo Metroparks has a volunteer Breeding Raptor Monitor program that shares the information they gather with state officials and the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas.

You can learn more about Bald Eagles and their nesting habits from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Ice on Lake Olander is OPEN for your use

The colder temperatures have made the ice stable again. Green flags are flying now, indicating that the ice is thick enough for ice fishing and skating. But check to make sure the red flags (indicating unsafe ice) aren’t up before you go on the ice.

Rules for using the Ice on Lake Olander

Rules of the Ice

Holiday Hours


Olander Park will be CLOSED on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and will only be open 7am to noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

On all of those days, the Quarry Ridge Bike Trail, Sylvan Prairie Park and Fossil Park will be open from sunrise to sunset. However, the south (back) parking lot at Sylvan Prairie and the bathroom at Fossil Park will be CLOSED all of those days. Note that the fossil piles at Fossil Park are closed until spring.

Christmas Bird Count 4 Kids

We had a lot of fun at Olander Park’s Christmas Bird Count for Kids last weekend. It was snowing and blowing! But we got GREAT views of a Bald Eagle. It perched for a long time for us,and we even used a spotting scope to get close-up views of its talons and beak. We also saw American Coots, Juncos, and, of course, Canada Geese and Mallards.

If you want to learn about birds and get involved in TOPS birding programs, contact Robin to find out about our upcoming birding events. rparker (at) or 419-882-8313 x34

Participant Alex gets a great look at the Bald Eagle. With Volunteer Birding Expert Diane Deyonker.

A young participant gets a great look at the Bald Eagle. With Volunteer Birding Expert Diane Deyonker.

CBC4K Olander 2013-12-14

A young participant, her Grandfather, and Diane Deyonker, keeping the snow off the spotting scope.


Olander Bird Walk 4/20

This morning’s bird walk at Olander Park was fabulous! Lots of warblers sighted! The warblers were on the ground looking for insects instead of high up in the trees so viewing was easy. They were just feet away!

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia warblers

Pine warblers

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Tree Swallows

Barn Swallows

Yellow Shafted Flickers

Chipping Sparrow


Hooded Merganser

We caught sight of a female Hooded Merganser on Lake Olander today! We thought we saw two males with her, but by the time we got our spotting scope aimed in their direction, we only saw the female. We also had about 10 Pie-billed Grebes, 5 Ruddy Ducks, and many ever-present American Coots.Hooded Merganser