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.

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