Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birding in NW Ohio

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
I knew I’d be ready for some time alone after three days with 2,000 people at The Festival of Faith & Writing (more on that in a later post), so I planned a meandering journey home with plenty of time for both planned and spontaneous birding breaks. I spent this afternoon and this evening along the coastal marsh areas in NW Ohio, stopping at nearly every wildlife refuge and natural spot I came upon.
Maumee Bay State Park
The soft pastels of the cattail marshes spread far and wide, dotted with clumps of trees, alive with a plethora of Red-wing Blackbirds singing, squawking, and flitting by. I’ve always liked the showy males with their red and yellow epaulets, but I’m finding that now I especially love the more muted, yet still striking, colors of the females. These blackbirds filled the air with their song, perched on reed and small trees throughout the marshes, watching me walk by on trail and boardwalk.              

Great Blue Herons, gulls and terns of various sorts, Egrets, and Bald Eagles fly over the marshes. At Magee Marsh this evening, there were about ten Great Egrets feeding in the pond, standing still, bill poised over the water, then suddenly striking. 

The ponds are filled with water birds, and I saw my first American Widgeon, Greater Scaup, Northern Shoveler, and Trumpeter Swan. Thirty-four Trumpeter Swans! They were dotted throughout a waterway in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, reaching under to graze on water plants, then lifting their graceful heads to look around. I didn’t want to leave, and kept stopping my car to watch them.
Trumpeter Swan
Northern Shoveler

I walked a mile or so back in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, enjoying the sights and sounds, the wind blowing so hard I couldn’t hold my binoculars steady. That wind meant few songbirds were active, but it also meant that, when I was downwind of a muskrat, it had no idea I was there and so it came fairly close, ripping grasses to carry away. Eventually he had gathered enough, then he slid into the water and swam off with a tremendous mouthful of grass.

A refreshing day of solitude immersed in the beauty of creation. From the excitement of “firsts” to the quiet wonder of watching a muskrat gathering grass, my soul was nurtured and filled as I savored God’s good handiwork.


Deb Townsend said...


Arielle said...

That sounds so refreshing and peaceful!

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