Monday, May 25, 2009


You can view the web album for our trip to Maggee Marsh

In mid-May, for the first time since 2003, I went north again to a wonderful place near Sandusky, Ohio called Maggee Marsh, for some of the best birdwatching in North America. Right on Lake Erie, this area (and the surrounding Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge) is a bottleneck for warblers and other migrants heading to their breeding grounds in Canada. While some will stay and breed, many make a pit stop in the resource-lush wetland habitat to gorge on emerging caterpillars, spiders and other creepy-crawleys, before crossing the large body of water.

The weather the night before was ominous...lots of rain and strong winds (later we found out there had been tornado warnings)...and I wasn't sure setting the clock for 6:30 am was really a good idea. But watching out the back window of the camper van in the morning, the storm gradually settled down to a windy, overcast day, and off we went.

We could not have asked for a better day! The storm left the air clear, and the gusty winds kept the birds low in the trees, rather than up in the crown. We saw or heard a total of 66 species in over a day and a half. It was amazing!

The boardwalk makes birdwatching an easy hobby for bird enthusiasts, as well as photographers and those with disabilities. Capturing a warbler with a camera is no small feat...they move fast and often only stay within viewing a brief moment. We did our best...enjoy!

You can view the web album for our trip to Maggee Marsh at:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009




Pink Lady's Slipper

Wild Comfrey

Hoary Puccoon

Wild Geranium

Columbine and Rock Cress growing on Dolomite Rock

Bluets in the Prairie

American Columbo
Can grow up to 25 years before blooming once and dying



On the way up to my favorite ridge for morning birding, I caught a glimpse of movement high in a tree and fairly far away. Usually I don't bother when something is that far off in the distance, but I had gotten a late start, so I wasn't going to be choosy. I'm glad I looked, because I faintly made out a male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Two days before she had visited the feeder, and he, just yesterday, when I snapped a few photos of the handsome and colorful dude.

Also, on the way up, I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (yes we have this exotically named bird), a Red-eyed Vireo, Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds, Wood Thrushes and a Wild Turkey. By 9:30 most of the action had ceased, but I decided that maybe I should just sit for another half-hour. Maybe with all the chatter and fluttering over, something singularly interesting might happen...and it did. Sitting on the same spongy log I perched on last year...when two fawns sauntered by and we exchanged glances...two yearlings walked by again. Did I have my camera? No. But the scene replayed itself. They stopped, looked at me (or towards me), browsed some vegetation and moved on down the well-worn path. I could have stood up, walked three steps, and petted them.

What I love about nature is its rhythms and predictability...and also the occasional unpredictable anomaly. While I'm not overly sentimental about deer (i.e., hunting them), any face to face with a wild creature does stir the heart and soul. But this encounter, while rare, is not all that strange. Like most animals, deer have certain territories and ways of getting around those territories for resources and refuge. So if I went up to the ridge every week and sat on my cushy log, odds are I would encounter the same two deer on a regular basis.

I've already been fantasizing about putting a camouflaged swivel chair up there to take in all 360 degrees of bird songs and those deer and I may become well acquainted by the end of summer.