Sunday, August 26, 2012

Birding Ohio at Pipe Creek

Social Media meet birding, in a big way.  All across Ohio birders came out to share their interests and learn from one another. We made new friends, promoted birds and birding with "the Pledge to Fledge."  

OOS had a group meeting up at Hoover Reservoir and a bumper crop of Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Toledo Naturalists' Association, Ottawa Refuge and Magee Marsh Wildlife also had fabulous events to encourage new birders and old birders who love to bird!  Don't you love it when a plan comes together?  

 The Birding Ohio Facebook group gathered at Pipe Creek in Sandusky, Ohio. We met up at McDonald's (join Facebook page  here to see the photo of the full group.)

Greg Miller (center).

I came along for the ride with my buddy Greg Miller. He is a wonderful bird mentor and a great friend.  Yes, I knew Greg (in the pre-Jack Black days) before he was rich and famous... well, OK, famous.  He is a great guy and we love talking politics. We may see things from different perspectives, but we have intelligent conversation- which puts us way ahead of either of our political parties!

Kim and Kenn Kaufman ready to BIRD!
The Birding Ohio group arranged several great guides for this trip, including Kim and Kenn Kaufman. Kim was quick to claim she is no shorebird pro, but Kenn has it covered.  Kenn is a wonderfully patient teacher and if you weren't able to join us on this trip, I encourage you to buy the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding.  Carry Kenn in your pocket!  Or better yet, pull him out of your pocket and read the chapter on shorebirds.  He will help you make sense of these madly, confusing birds.  He generously allows that shorebirds- with all of their various plumages- are a challenge!

So the beginners got to see their first Dowitchers, and we intermediates felt better about not knowing if they were Long-bill or Short-billed Dowitchers.  Greg led us through the process of looking at their back-ends for the barred feather patterns.

We were working it!  Photographers, birders and general naturalists were on a Pipe Creek free-for all.

If you are like me and the intense study of plumage is not your main interest, the beauty of this wetland provided many other opportunities for enjoyment. Numerous Great Blue Herons and a two Little Blue Herons worked the shoreline next to a Snowy Egret. A Great Egret and Red-necked Phalaropes also put on quite the show.  That white speck in the center of the photo is a female Phal in outstanding plumage.  These birds who feed by swimming in crazy, erratic circles are standouts among the shorebirds and easy to share with beginners.

Habitat wise, the flowering Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, is an invasive species which degrades wetlands, but it was handy for the butterflies and pollinators utilizing it.  Scanning across the wetlands with binoculars provided an endless supply of dragonflies, bees, and butterflies to discover.

How can we tell this is a Bull Frog?
Wetlands and frogs, beautiful things.  Frogs make tasty food for the herons, who don't even care if this is a bull frog or green frog.  However, we know it is a bull frog because it lacks the dorsal lateral folds on its back.  See that smooth back- no lines?  That is a bull frog my friend.   Or shall I say, "That is a bull frog, my friend!"?

Thanks again to the Birding Ohio folks and all the friends who made this day special!  

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