Get to Know a Naturalist and Discover All Kinds of Nature

February 16, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve lived in Washington DC for 30 years, but I’m from Sandusky, Ohio and I know a lot about that area. Sandusky is located along the Lake Erie coast, in Erie County Ohio, making it home to many migrating birds in spring and fall. For me, this means good bird photography. In fact, there’s a few areas in Sandusky that are considered by the experts as birding Hot Spots. There's even a bird festival in the region during spring migration because the birding is that amazing. Before a recent trip to the area, I was researching birding areas in Erie County and surrounding locations. My research unexpectedly brought me across Martyn Drabik-Hamshare; who is a Naturalist with Erie MetroParks.  I like to say Martyn arrived in Ohio via England and South Africa -- he was born and raised in England and studied in both the UK and South Africa.  Not all of us know what a Naturalist is – in a few words -- Naturalists observe nature and communicate the importance of our natural resources using various programs and activities. Martyn does his work with the Erie MetroParks, which encompass 12 public parks, 30 miles of trails, and more than 300 free public programs each year. I’m excited to have Martyn on the podcast and hear about his experience and insights on all kinds of nature.


Below are the questions Martyn answered.  Listen to the podcast here.


  • You were born and raised in England, studied in both the UK and South Africa, and now you work in Sandusky, Ohio – a mid-size city that sits on Lake Erie and is probably best known as the home of Cedar Point -- an amusement park in operation for over 150 years that features a world-record 71 rides and world-record-setting roller coasters. Martyn, start us out by unraveling the interesting story of your worldwide study and travel and what brought you to northern Ohio.


  • What’s a day in the life of an Erie MetroParks Naturalist like?


  • Tell us about the most surprising thing (or things!) you’ve learned during your explorations or work in Erie County Ohio.


  • As you’ve certainly learned, we Americans love our bald eagle. On a recent episode of the Erie MetroParks podcast, “Off Trail”, you noted that there were 46 Bald Eagle nests in Erie County, as of the last census. How do you go about conducting a census of bald eagle nests?


  • The last time I was in the Sandusky area (Fall 2021), I made a trip up to Maumee Bay State Park (an Ohio state park) which was about an hour by car along the Lake Erie Bay shore from my location. On that drive, which was about 60 miles, I saw 14 adult bald eagles.I was really shocked and never remember seeing anything like that in that area before.What do you think contributes to that region being – apparently -- good habitat for bald eagles?


  • Ecologists often study and explain how human actions affect other living things and their environment. What kinds of activities that you’ve been involved in with Erie County MetroParks fit that description?


  • I’m pretty sure I would never have visited Pipe Creek Wildlife area in Sandusky (managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources) had I not seen some of your posts about the birds and other wildlife in that area. While I’m familiar with the part of Sandusky where Pipe Creek is located, I was never familiar with this area as a birding and wildlife area. North central Ohio is really a top birding destination. What are some of the other best places to see nature and wildlife in Erie County, and the surrounding areas?


  • Have you ever encountered any issues with wildlife crime (poaching, etc..) or was that ever discussed in your studies or job?


  • Do you have a favorite species?



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