Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Looking forward to Headlands

OOS' 6th annual Conference is this weekend and I am so looking forward to returning to Mentor Headlands Beach. This is one of Ohio's most scenic birding locations and too good of an opportunity to pass up!

When the beach is this beautiful...

and you are birding beside one of Ohio's historic lighthouses, it is worth the trip. Life is good when you are sharing the day with friends, enjoying some botany and last year- we even saw a "life" mammal!
Harry- the Hairy-tailed mole was skittering around in the beach sand. His fuzzy white tail made for a quick ID. Maybe he just wanted to take in the scenic view as well.

And just a couple miles down the road from the beach you find Wake Robin Trail.
It provides perfect sparrow habitat and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows were seen in numbers here. We got our binoculars trained for several good looks at the skulkers found here last year. That is when we formulated a little Sparrow logic: if is was perched up- it was a Song Sparrow, if it dove down and tucked into the weeds- that was the likely Nelson's.

And what does a sparrow to eat while migrating? Smartweed seeds. Several species of smartweed, including Pennsylvania Polygonum pensylvanicum, Water-pepper Polygonum hydropiper and Arrow-leaved Tearthumb Polygonum sagittatum grow along the boardwalk, providing seeds for the little skulkers.

Another smartweed aficionado, a Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar makes good use of the leaves of these same plants.

So whether we get any rare birds this year, or not, it is never a wasted day when we are able to enjoy some of nature's ample offerings. Good birding, and more, to you. Hope to see you at Headlands!

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