December 26, 2011. Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio

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Cincinnati Christmas Bird Count. With Dad and Jack S. On abandoned Christmas tree farm. Hilly terrain. Steep ditches. Cross through muddy irrigation pond via a deep, sheer ditch. Over and up other muddy side grabbing roots and branches to pull selves to top. Then walk rows of dying and thinning pines. Few birds. Last year was better. Look at dilapidated house and outbuildings. Walk Ross Road east until it too reaches abandoned and dilapidated state. The road is closed between here and Roudebush Lane. Watch scores of Black Vultures coming off the power lines to the east. Visit Mr. K_'s family home on Roudebush Lane. Admire enormous Sycamore along the creek at the top of the driveway. The house is one story, redwood, and comfortable. I've been inside it, though this year Mr. K_ and his wife are not home. Numerous Chickadees, Titmice, Downies, at feeder stations. A Towhee calling from the hillside. Jack S. leaves us to join his dad for rest of day. Dad and I continue walking on Roudebush toward the Little Miami. The road is falling apart. In a way, it's as much hillside as the hillside it lies upon. The outline of the foundation of the K_ family ancestral home is bordered on the south side by a stand of bamboo. There are a couple utility poles along the road which once served the home. The home was torn down after its water and sewer lines were destroyed by the dynamiting work done during the construction of Route 32, the James A. Rhodes Appalachian Highway, to the south. Paul W. and I met Mr. K_ and heard his family stories and saw the family scrapbook three years ago during this count. We're up on the history of Roudebush Lane, Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio. Follow Roudebush Lane to a train trestle and a metal bridge crossing a narrow creek where it joins the Little Miami. Spring flooding has almost destroyed the bridge. We don't try to cross. On the other side of the bridge is an abandoned summer camp--it probably had some sort of religious affiliation. There are numerous abandoned church camps like this along different rivers and streams. This one looks just like the one near your home. If we cross the bridge, we would find some outbuildings, a couple chimneys without walls, the odd pile of cinder block and rusted whatevers. Local kids believe the area is haunted by the victims of a satanic cult. They call it "Hell's Church." You can see their videos, and watch them stumbling around in the night while searching for the "Alter of Damnation" by going to YouTube and searching on "Hell's Church, Batavia, Ohio." The kids think the ancestral K_ family home site is haunted. It seems to make people happy to think so--to imagine blood thirsty satanists rushing up the U-shaped driveway to capture and sacrifice the innocent K_ family. But we know the K_ family left quite peacefully, though unhappily, after Gov. Rhodes' work crews made their house uninhabitable. Did they bury their hearts in the bamboo stand? We don't find any ghosts or satanists, today, that we recognized. And not many birds either. It is sunny, cold, and getting windy. We go to Skyline for lunch with other birding friends taking part in the count. It's nice to chat with everyone and compare our morning lists. "When you find few birds, eat many oyster crackers." I read that in the Upanishads.