Central Indiana Birding Opportunities -Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve
Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve is made up of 127 acres of forest, prairie, and wetland that provides shelter for a variety of migrant and breeding songbirds within one of the fastest growing communities in Indiana.
The park’s restored prairie is an excellent place to become immersed in the sounds of displaying American Woodcocks during March and early April and provides cover for an abundance of sparrows during migration.
In March, the blackbird trail near the parking lot leads to a small cattail wetland, where Sora and Virginia Rails can be heard and occasionally seen. From early March through early April, this is one of the more reliable places in central Indiana to see Rusty Blackbirds. They gather in trees around the wetland near dusk, usually mixed in with the more abundant Red-winged Blackbirds.
Where the forest meets the prairie, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole, and Willow Flycatcher can often be found during the spring and summer months. The beech hollow and hickory trails are home to breeding Yellow-throated Vireo, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, and Wood Thrush from April through August, while the swamp trail and boardwalk are excellent for a variety of migrants. In late May, the swamp trail consistently holds an Alder Flycatcher or two.
The park is usually quiet in the winter, but 5 species of woodpecker, Eastern Towhee, Winter Wren, and the occasional Sharp-shinned Hawk may break the silence.
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|FISHERS WEATHER //|
10410 Hague Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Ownership: Ritchey Woods is a state-dedicated nature preserve owned by the city of Fishers.
Admission: Admission is free. There is a gate but it remains open unless the parking lot or trails are being repaired.
Restrictions: Visitors must remain on the trails at all times, and pets must be on a leash. Bicycles are prohibited in the park.
Parking: There’s a gravel parking lot with ample parking spaces, but the weekends are sometimes crowded.
Nearby Amenities: The park has heated restrooms with running water. A small building adjacent to the parking lot has information about the park, including maps. The nearby cities of Fishers and Castleton offer many options for lodging.
Accessibility: There is a small boardwalk, but otherwise all of the trails are dirt or gravel. The terrain is level, with the exception of the Beech Hollow loop. In the spring, the dirt trails are sometimes very muddy or even under water after heavy rains.
Phone Number: (317) 595-3111
Written by: Nick Kiehl
Photo by: Carol Johnston