Birding at Pipe Creek Wildlife Area

Sandusky, Ohio

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Pipe Creek Wildlife Area

General Information

Address

F St, Sandusky, OH 44870. This is near the causeway to the Cedar Point Amusement Park.

County/Counties

Erie

DeLorme Page Number and Coordinates

(7th Edition and earlier) Page 39, A-4

Nearest Town or City

Pipe Creek is within the Sandusky city limits.

Directions from Nearest Town or City

Turn north off Cleveland Road (US Route 6) at Cedar Point Drive. Turn right at River Avenue (just after McDonald’s restaurant). River Avenue ends at unmarked F Street, where Pipe Creeks’ small grassy parking lot is on the right hand side. Many roads in the Sandusky area have signs directing visitors to Cedar Point amusement park. Most of these signs direct visitors to the Cedar Point causeway (Cedar Point Drive) and can be helpful in finding Pipe Creek Wildlife Area. Be aware that a few signs farther east direct visitors to the older entrance to Cedar Point, near Sheldon Marsh, which is known as the Cedar Point Chaussee.

About Pipe Creek Wildlife Area

Formerly known as the Big Island Wetlands, Pipe Creek Wildlife Area was originally developed to mitigate for loss of adjacent wetlands to private development. The 97-acre site was acquired by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in 1991. Three seasonally-flooded diked marsh areas and one open water area are surrounded on three sides by Sandusky Bay. A pumping station has been installed to enable moist soil management.

 
Water varies in depth between one and three feet, except for water-level control channels that can be as deep as eight feet. Flat-topped dikes surround and delineate each of the four areas. A short trail through a small wooded area leads to these dikes. Walking on the dikes may be somewhat difficult in places due to the large size of the gravel. Hiking boots might be a good idea.

Visiting Information

Closed hours/season

Pipe Creek is closed to all activities except hunting and fishing at night. It is also closed during teal season (early September) and again during waterfowl season (mid-October through December). Check regulations for annual dates.

Parking Areas

A small grassy parking lot is found at the entrance on F Street.

Fees/Permits

None.

Restroom Facilities

Available in the nearby McDonald’s restaurant.

Harmful Insects, Poisonous Plants, or Animals

Although harmless, large hordes of seasonal mayflies and large midges (known locally as ‘muffleheads’) can be very annoying. Mosquitoes are also present in season.

Restaurants in the Area

McDonald’s is located on River Avenue very close to Pipe Creek. Other restaurants are located along Cleveland Road (US Route 6) and on US Route 250. Restaurants offering waterfront views while dining include Friday’s on Cleveland Road and Damon’s along the waterfront in downtown Sandusky.

Other Useful Information

Pipe Creek is located near the main entrance to Cedar Point Amusement Park. During summer weekends morning traffic approaching the park may be very heavy.

Other Birding Spots in the Area

heldon Marsh State Nature Preserve is located on Cleveland Road (Rte. 6) six miles east of Pipe Creek. Several new metroparks are also under development along Sandusky Bay between Pipe Creek and Sheldon Marsh.

Medusa Marsh can be reached by heading west through Sandusky on First Street (which later changes its name to Monroe Street). You will eventually end at Venice Road (Toft’s ice cream is on the corner). Turn right and continue travelling west. Venice Road becomes Barrett Road, the stretch of road between Sandusky and Bay View, which is known as Medusa Marsh.

Within downtown Sandusky, Meigs Street Pier (behind the police station), Battery Park, Shoreline Park, Jackson Street Pier and Shelby street boat ramp (near the coal docks and Turning Point Island) are open to the public and offer good views of Sandusky Bay.

Birds of Interest by Season

Winter

Pipe Creek is closed to everyone except waterfowl hunters with a permit during fall waterfowl hunting seasons. When open, over-wintering sparrows can be found in the marshy areas and short-eared owls and harriers are occasionally present. During mild winters, waters around the perimeter remain open and a diverse number of diving ducks are often present including canvasbacks, redheads, lesser and greater scaups, common goldeneyes, buffleheads, and common and red-breasted mergansers.

Spring

Early spring at Pipe Creek is a great season for migrating waterfowl of all varieties. In late February, as ice starts to break up in the backwaters of Sandusky Bay, diving ducks become rather abundant. Canada geese are also present in larger numbers. Dabblers of all sorts move in toward the beginning of March. with gadwalls and northern shovelers in large numbers. Snow buntings and horned larks can also be found along the dikes. In April, warblers and other spring migrants may be found along the entrance trail and along the area between the water plant and the impoundments. Spotted sandpipers are often found in fairly large numbers along the outside of the dikes.

Summer

The westernmost area of Pipe Creek (open water area) is closed to the public during much of the summer and into fall to protect a colony of nesting common terns. Their floating nesting platforms can be viewed at a distance from areas open to the public. Signs are posted when restrictions are in effect. Some wading birds feed in the area and their numbers grow later in summer as young disperse from nesting colonies. Common nighthawks nest on the rooftops at Cedar Point and often can be seen. Shorebirds may also be present, depending upon water levels.

Fall

Good numbers of migrating passerines can be found along the entrance trail and other wooded areas in the fall. Large numbers of great blue herons and common egrets along with snowy egrets and occasional little blue herons are sometimes present.

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