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.
Watching from a small tree, a male Red-Winged Blackbird sits in shade, its red shoulder markings hidden.
The Red-Winged Blackbird announced itself from the branches of a small tree nearby. He allowed visitors to approach only so much, then flew off. Repeating.
Too close! A male Red-Winged Blackbird rockets from one tree to another.
Male Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
It’s nesting time and the Red-winged Blackbirds raucously declare the boundaries of their territories! Whether perched upon a tree, a reed, or chasing trespassers, red-wings are an aggressive and busy lot. This one was spotted at the Sandy Ridge Reservation of Lorain Metroparks, North Ridgeville, Ohio.
Female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) with captured dragonflies.
Birds gotta eat, I know. Still, it seemed unfair. A female Red-winged Blackbird had captured a meal. I photographed her perched on a swaying tree branch at the Columbia Reservation of Lorain County Metroparks. I could see, clutched in her beak, the shining gossamer wings of a dragonfly. I’m a fan of dragonflies and of Red-winged Blackbirds too, for that matter, so had a little remorse over the fate of the dragon. Birds gotta eat, I know. Preparing this photograph for posting today, however, brought out unexpected details in the picture. The tangle of dragonfly in the bird’s beak contained two dragonfly abdomens and, yes, two heads, and too many wings — the blackbird had captured two dragonflies. How could that happen? I can only think of one way. The insects were mating in flight, as they do, when caught. It seemed somehow unfair that they should die in that last embrace.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) running across a tree branch arch.
I decided to take some time to see if I could capture a better portrait of the skittish Green Heron I watched the other day. So I revisited Medina County’s Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary. Today I arrived armed with my wonderful 400mm telephoto lens and began stalking heron. I looked along the boardwalk, no heron. I checked the banks of the wetland and in the trees… nope. Red-winged Blackbirds aplenty but no heron. I looked around the smaller pond above the wetlands and still found no little heron. Oddly, this day very few dragonflies were visible either. Disappointed and about to give up hope, I spotted “Little Green” on the banks of a very small and shallow pool near the large wetlands. The heron was scuttling along the edge of the water, apparently looking for prey from upon the muddy banks. He hiked up and across a fallen tree branch that formed an arch, then back to the mud. I managed to squeeze off a few shots but then my quarry took off. No, I hadn’t spooked it… another Green Heron was flying over and mine gave chase. I stuck around for quite a while after that but the birds did not return. So I took off, myself.