In collaboration with

Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon College
and the
Mission Oaks Gardens

The events have been arranged especially to illustrate and to highlight natural features of the land and waters of the Knox County Area. Please attend as your interests and schedules permit, and bring your friends and family. If you have suggestions for future activities or places to visit, please call 740-392-6952.

Directions can be found at the bottom of this page.

  • spring birdingApril 3 (Saturday)
  • Spring Birding at Knox Lake
  • Knox Lake - Locations 1a, 1b, 1c
  • Time: see below
  • Leader: Howard Gratz

Connect with nature in a socially-distanced observation of early migrating birds along the shores of Knox Lake. Repairs to the Knox Lake spillway have lowered lake water levels and exposed much of the bottom of the lake. The exposed mudflats provide an attractive rest stop for shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl migrating northward from early March to mid-May. Observations can be made any time at three public sites, but the peak migration for waterfowl is usually March-April, with shorebird migration a bit later, early April to mid-May. Binoculars and/or a spotting scope will be necessary for best viewing. One or more naturalists will be present to help you find and identify birds at one or more of the locations (see email announcement for times and locations). We will be observing Department of Health recommendations for masking and COVID safety.

  • virtual wetlandsJune 13 (Sunday)
  • Virtual Wetlands of Knox County
  • Location: your computer
  • Time: 1:00 p.m.
  • Leader: Ray Heithaus

Learn about the amazing aquatic resources of Knox County through a virtual tour. Please reserve a "Zoom" spot by contacting OCC's consultant by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

  • prairie burnEarly April, exact date to be announced
  • Prairie Prescribed Burn
  • Location 2: Brown Family Environmental Center
  • Time: to be announced
  • Leader: Ray Heithaus

Learn how fire is used to manage Ohio's oldest habitat. A prescribed prairie burn can be spectacular, but the timing is critical; wind speed and direction must be just right, and the moisture levels appropriate. Prior registration will allow us to notify you about the day, time, and location for the burn (usually with just hours or a day advance notice). Email your interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call us at 740-392-6952, or send us a message through our Facebook page (Owl Creek Conservancy Ohio).

  • chimney swift 1September 18 (Saturday)
  • Flight of the Chimney Swifts
  • Location 4: Bladensburg old elementary school
  • Time: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
  • Leader: Kim Davidson and Ray Heithaus

We have our own bird migration spectacular here in Knox County, as hundreds (maybe more) migrating Chimney Swifts fly to a night-time roost in Bladensburg. Experience this event of natural history to learn more about bird migration and natural history, and to enjoy the company of fellow members of the Owl Creek Conservancy. The event can be observed from your vehicle for COVID safety if you wish.

  • Mission OaksApril through September
  • Mission Oaks Gardens
  • Location 3: Mission Oaks Gardens
  • Time: flexible
  • Leader: self-guided

Enjoy self-guided tours of a stunning urban garden with a renowned collection of conifers, a woodland garden including majestic mature white oaks and numerous perennials, a small bog, pond and waterfall. The garden is designed for seasonal displays of blooms and is open to the public seven days a week, dawn to dusk. Information may be obtained at 740-455-8237 weekdays (9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.). E-mails will be sent near peak blooming periods throughout the coming spring - fall. Sturdy shoes are recommended.

  • october picnicOctober (TBA)
  • Picnic on the Kokosing
  • Location: to be arranged on a private Protected Property
  • Time: to be announced
  • Leader: Richard Stallard

Be immersed in the splendor of autumn noontime. From high above the Kokosing River, see sky reflecting in the water and hear the flow, while having lunch. A date will be set depending on weather and harvesting. Prior registration is recommended so potential participants can be notified via email. Email your interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call us at 740-392-6952, or send us a message through our Facebook page (Owl Creek Conservancy Ohio). Each participant will need sturdy shoes, a sack lunch and a sit-upon.

  • kokosing gap birdingMay 8 - 14
  • Kokosing Gap Trail Birding Challenge
  • Location: Kokosing Gap Trail segment of your choice
  • Time: flexible
  • Leader: Self-guided.

On a self-guided walk any time during this period, see how many species of birds you can find along the Kokosing Gap Trail. Choose any segment of the KGT and record the species (and the number for each if you are ambitious!) of any birds you can identify by sight or sound. Send your results, along with the mile-markers you pass in an email to Ray Heithaus (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). This should be the peak of spring migration, so be sure to take along a bird ID guide or smartphone app. Results will be shared with all participants.

  • Christmas birdsDecember 19 (Sunday)
  • Christmas Bird Count
  • Location 2: Brown Family Environmental Center
  • Time: 7:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
  • Leader: BFEC staff

The Christmas Bird Count is a long-standing national initiative of the Audubon Society. Help us identify and count birds in different areas of Knox County. Volunteers can count birds at home feeders or in the field. If you are a beginner birder, you can learn with volunteers in the warmth of the BFEC Resource Center. Lunch is provided at noon at the BFEC for all participants. Call 740-427-5052 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register. Participation time is flexible in start and duration.

Meeting Locations

Directions are from Mount Vernon

Location 1a. Knox Lake, Old Mansfield South access: Take Mansfield Road north from Mount Vernon. After crossing Armentrout Road, stay on Mansfield Road to the dead end in the parking lot at the south side of Knox Lake. Total distance from the Public Square is 8.5 miles.

Location 1b. Knox Lake, Prairie Run: This viewing point is on the extreme east end of Knox Lake along Knox Lake Road. Take Mansfield Road north, turn right on Armentrout Road to its end, then turn left on Knox Lake Road. There are three or four parking spaces where the road crosses Prairie Run. The lake will be on your left.

Location 1c. Knox Lake Marina and Boat Launch: This viewing area is on the north side of Knox Lake along what was once Old Mansfield Road. Take OH 13 north from Mount Vernon, then turn right on OH 95. Follow OH 95 northeast out of Fredericktown. Before reaching Ankenytown there will be a sharp curve to the left, with Mishey Road entering from the right. Turn right on Mishey Road and then immediately make another right turn onto Old Mansfield Road. Look for the Knox Marina sign. Follow Old Mansfield Road to the dead end in the public parking and boat launch area.

Location 2. BFEC Resource Center: Take SR 229 east to Laymon Road. [SR 308 turns left at this intersection.] Turn right and go southward 0.5 miles to parking lot on the right.

Location 3. Mission Oaks Gardens, Zanesville: Take SR 586 (Martinsburg Road) southeastward 30.6 miles to SR 146. Turn left on SR 146 and go 11.7 miles to Maple Avenue (SR 60) [In Zanesville SR 146 becomes Adair Avenue.] Turn left on Maple Avenue. Go 0.5 miles, keeping right and exiting to the right on Dresden Road. Proceed northward a short distance and turn right on Yale Avenue and then right on Euclid Avenue. Head south on Euclid about a half mile to entrance to Mission Oaks parking lot on the left. The entrance is well marked. An entry into the Garden is on either side of the parking lot. Allow about one hour for travel from Mount Vernon.

Location 4. Bladensburg old elementary school: Take OH 586 (Martinsburg Road) south out of Mount Vernon. After 10.6 miles, turn right onto North Market Street, then after 0.1 mile turn left onto OH 541. Drive for 3.9 miles to 25821 New Guilford Road (on the left).