WAYNE LAKES — The Village of Wayne Lakes, with a population of approximately 700, is also home to a great number of bird species.
As such, the community, south of Greenville, now will be host to a bird watching “hotspot,” participating in a bird study by Cornell University.
Wayne Lakes Mayor Ellen Brown said Wayne Lakes resident and birdwatcher Cindy Ploch approached her with the idea of teaming up with Cornell.
“Cindy’s been birding for years and years, and she said she was seeing so many birds in the area that she really thought we should be on the Cornell University study’s hotspot,” she said. “She told me the differences between the birds seen at Shawnee Prairie and the birds seen at Wayne Lakes.”
“As Wayne Lakes moves forward on some of our other issues, what we’d like to do is open the area up for people to come in and have bird watching. I feel like that’s a good thing for Wayne Lakes and along with our fishing, we’re hoping to promote birding and fishing as reasons to come to Wayne Lakes,” she added.
Ploch, who has been birding for nearly 40 years and is a member of the Darke County Birding Club, has kept a separate database for herself, and in the past year she said she has observed more than 100 distinct bird species in Wayne Lakes. This inspired her to get in touch with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds.”
“Back in 2002, they developed a free, online database, in which average citizens can go in and report species that they’ve seen,” Ploch said. “As of last June, there have been over 600 million checklists sent in.”
“What this means is that Wayne Lakes is a good place to come and see different species,” Brown said. “As we preserve Wayne Lakes for wildlife, hopefully within the next few years it will be a beautiful place for people to come and visit.”
Ploch said among the most rare bird sightings she’s had of late include a Cattle Egret and a Great Egret.
“We had a Great Egret in December, and it was a rare bird because it wasn’t supposed to be here in December,” she said.
Ploch is not the only area resident to take a more-than-active interest in keeping track of the area’s feathered friends.
At 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7, local photographer and bird watcher Chad Arment will give a special presentation at Shawnee Prairie on the many birds he has photographed in Darke County during the past year. Registration is required, but the program is free. Individuals can calll 937-548-0165 to register.
For more information on the Darke County Birders Club, call Cindy Ploch at 937-547-0397.
For information on the Cornell University bird database, go to ebird.org