Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sheldon Marsh in May

Apparently the southern edge of Lake Erie is an amazing place to see birds during spring migration, because northbound birds often pause in the neighboring woodlands to refuel before heading off across the lake. So now that we're in the middle of May and migration is in full swing (yay!), I'm taking as many opportunities as I can to go check out some of these areas. On Monday morning, I visited Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve -- a park with woods and marshes on the shores of Lake Erie -- and there were animals everywhere. I ended up seeing 54 bird species (which is really good for me), including 11 species of warbler. Basically everywhere I went, something was moving around in the trees!

A male Indigo Bunting was showing off his astonishing blue feathers in a small clearing in the woods:

Indigo Buntings are awesome, of course, but I got super excited when a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers showed up nearby!

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful bird. I've never seen a Red-headed Woodpecker before, and I love that sleek costume, so different from our other woodpeckers. And how cool to see two of these birds at once!

I wonder if they'll be raising a family here:

Near the marshes, a male Baltimore Oriole paused, panting, after a chase:

And an immature male Orchard Oriole (I don't see these birds very often!) was foraging not far away:

These flowering willow trees were a big hit with many of the smaller birds. Several Tennessee Warblers were going after these flowers:

Tennessee Warblers are very vaguely patterned (by warbler standards), but I was able to identify these guys because they were singing pretty much nonstop. Here's a video of one of the Tennesee Warblers at work:

A gorgeous male Yellow Warbler popped out of a bush for a quick picture and then went right back to his foraging:

This male Cape May Warbler (so pretty!) spent some time hunting directly above my head:

Hey, nice catch:

I didn't mean to take this flying-away picture, but I think it looks pretty cool:

A pretty little male Wilson's Warbler (another new bird for me) lurked in the undergrowth:

My favorite warbler sighting of the day was a male Chestnut-sided Warbler who was nice enough to come down to my level to hunt. I absolutely love this bird's costume, with those fancy brown sides, yellow-and-gray striped wings, black mask, and yellow hat:

Hello, beautiful bird:

This creature looks almost fierce from the front:

But from other angles he's just handsome:

Yes, Chestnut-sided Warblers are definitely some of my favorites:

There were some big birds hanging around, too, like this Red-tailed Hawk who soared overhead:

The birds were awesome, but there were tons of other interesting creatures around as well. A couple of Eastern Chipmunks had a standoff in the middle of the path:

And there they go!

Speaking of strange things on the path, I didn't expect to find this Crayfish making its way along the pavement; I hope it safely got where it was going:

Giant fish churned the waters of the marsh; I think these are some sort of non-native carp:

And there were turtles everywhere! Painted Turtles piled up on basking logs:

Some of the Painted Turtles were particularly small and cute:

This little turtle objected to the arrival of a bigger fellow:

It's OK, little guy:

I was also excited to see more Blanding's Turtles, which are listed as a threatened species in Ohio:

How adorable is this big Blanding's Turtle's face?

It was nice to meet you, lovely turtle:

It was quite an eventful morning! With May not even half over, here's hoping I can make it back up to a park next to Lake Erie sometime soon!

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