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.”
Ah-ha! A Great Blue Heron peers from behind a fallen tree.
Today we revisited a couple of places favored by birders: Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve, and Old Woman Creek Nature Preserve, both near Huron, Ohio. Sheldon Marsh was quiet, with Northern Cardinals peeping about, and a Great Blue Heron, nearly invisible as it stalked through tall reeds. The place was lovely to visit and gave us pleasant, green, shady wooded walking, but a bit too quiet. Later, we visited Old Woman Creek and a wonderful vantage point over a wide, open wetland. After some patient waiting, Great Blue Herons and a Great Egret provided some photo ops. Of course there are always the “ones that got away.” Still, I got a couple of “keepers.”
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website, “Old Woman Creek is one of the state’s few remaining examples of a natural estuary. As a transition zone between land and water, the site contains a variety of habitats including marshes and swamps, upland forests, open water, tributary streams, barrier beach and near shore Lake Erie. The Reserve supports a diverse assemblage of native plants and animals representative of freshwater estuaries. Old Woman Creek Reserve is managed as a cooperative partnership between NOAA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Old Woman Creek is also an Ohio State Nature Preserve.”
Too quick for me was a Kingfisher’s dive into the open water to emerge and shoot into flight with a good sized fish in its beak. I got a couple of shots of the little guy speeding off with his lunch but nothing good enough to show here. The heron shown above also managed to make good its escape without my properly documenting it. Dang! Must… go… back! Will do so in another month or so.
A Great Egret seeking Better Fishing.