Alive photographer Will Shilling and I just got back from the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, which recently received recognition as a really bad-ass habitat for birds and other wildlife.

It was my first time to the Ohio State facility, but I'm sure that those who ride the Olentangy Greenway Trail are quite familiar with this park, which wraps around one of the wetland cells that attract such a rich diversity of creatures. There's a pair experimental wetlands, a great observation platform, paved and unimporved trails and an info center.

There are a bunch of tours and activities listed here. I'll have more info in the Nature Notes column in the paper on May 22.

Will and I saw a bunch of turtles, snakes and a young deer. Also, birds were flying everywhere. Here's what I saw in order:

Red-winged blackbird Song sparrow American robin American goldfinch Chipping sparrow Northern cardinal Tree swallow Northern rough-winged swallow Killdeer Mallard Baltimore oriole Orchard oriole Turkey vulture Yellow warbler Brown-headed cowbird Canada goose Blue-gray gnatcatcher Gray catbird Great blue heron Carolina chickadee Common grackle

A full list of what has been spotted over the years at the wetland can be found here.