An American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), waits.
The weather hasn’t been very conducive to nature walks of late, that is if you don’t like getting stuck in mud! Over several recent days, however, there has been enough break in the rain to make trails more passable and skies a bit more cheerful. On a walk on the Buckeye Woods Park, Chippewa Inlet Trail we heard and encountered a number of birds I’d not seen before; most escaped my lens. My shot of the day, however, didn’t bear wings: it was a common American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus). I was delighted by the position of the frog amongst wetland reeds and how the scene led from light to shadow — a beautiful arrangement. The frog, perhaps to avoid being noticed, held perfectly still while I photographed. I’m quite pleased with the results.
A female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) at Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, Huron, Ohio
On Memorial Day we visited the Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve — a spit of land in Huron, Ohio that extends into Lake Erie. Wetlands line the paved trail and the area, though small, provides habitat for many varieties of bird, and a rest and refueling stop for migrants. Bird songs filled the woods, and wildlife was easy to see, including two snapping turtles laying their eggs in holes they excavated along the paved footpath! My shot of the day at Sheldon Marsh was a beautiful female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). The bird alighted on a low bush and furiously shook and preened itself while I watched and shot photos. Then, all sorted off, the blackbird shot into the woods to go about her business. It was wonderful, in the truest sense of the word, to get out and explore everyday natural beauties.
A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) Perched Atop a Nest Box
UPDATE: The original version of this post mis-identified the location of the Tree Swallow photograph. While there was much activity at Sandy Ridge Reservation, the nest box bird portrait was actually made at the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, Huron, Ohio.
On Monday we ventured to Lorain Metro Parks’ Sandy Ridge Reservation for a walk and to see how wildlife activity was going. In short, the protected wetland is becoming busier all the time. We saw Canada Geese sitting on their mounded nests, some just a step off the trail, and we spotted the first goslings of the season … all ready! A flock of Coots floated in one area, and four widely-separated Great Egrets waded, looking for prey. Tree swallows zoomed over the waters, between hollows in trees. We even spied a water snake catching some rays, that unusually warm afternoon!
We also visited the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve in Huron, Ohio. Tree Swallow activity was very high there, and finding a bird that would stay perched for more than a minute was pretty rare. One swallow, however, stayed put — perched on a nest box — for several minutes, providing a great photo op! Among the numerous shots I made of the little bird was the one shown here: my best ever of a Tree Swallow, showing off its beautiful iridescent head and back. Although I have other good shots, the one of a little bird looking into the sky is my pick of the day!
Great Egret Walking
We made a quick visit to the Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve in Huron. Watching for bird activity at the estuary we were treated to sights of a Great Egret fishing from the trunk of a fallen tree. The big bird, one of five we could see from our vantage, caught only a few small fish before taking flight; this shot was made only a few moments before takeoff. As you can see in this tightly-cropped image, the egret had been banded. From the Ohio Division of Natural Resources website: “Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of a network of 28 coastal reserves connected nationally through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address state and regional coastal management needs through research, education, and stewardship. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System uses its network of living laboratories to help understand and find solutions to crucial issues facing America’s coastal communities.”