Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunrise on the Maumee

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lance-leaved Violet

Friday we counted Lance-leaved Violets.   
They are only a few inches tall and like wet meadows.

Our first stop was Butterfly Meadow.
This view is looking north with woods lining the western edge of the meadow.

Tucked in the foliage we found two box turtles - one with a GPS unit attached.   
I also found a big Blue Racer snake, but was too startled to photograph it.

This Common Yellowthroat was singing loudly, 
"Whichity, whichity, whichity, which".

We also went to North Girdham Dunes.  
The area used to be planted with pines.  When they were cleared the violets sprang up in the many low lying areas.  Now that it has been open for a while, the low areas are filling in and there aren't as many violets.

This Red Admiral butterfly has seen better days.  
He likely migrated up from Texas this spring.

This Indigo Bunting's song was dominate in this meadow.

This Spicebush Swallowtail was very docile and may have recently emerged from its over-wintering chrysalis.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kitty Todd

I try not to miss the blooming of the lupine and puccoon each spring at the Nature Conservancy's Kitty Todd Preserve.  My friend Cathy and I wandered around there a cloudy morning this past week.

There were lots of birds singing - Rufous-sided Towhees, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Field Sparrows, Northern Orioles.

And there were plenty of insects.  
This interesting bug landed on Cathy and may be the first recorded of it's kind in Ohio.  
Unfortunately, lots of ticks also landed on Cathy, but only one on me.
We decided it helps to wear a big hat sprayed with permethrin and it does not help to wear fluffy brown clothing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Best Non-Bird

We headed out to Magee Marsh this morning (the last day of the Biggest Week in American Birding) to show our non-birding friends what all the birding fuss is about.

The Murtaughs had enthusiastically purchased binoculars for the occasion and dressed to blend in.
It wasn't as busy as we had feared - the parking lots were about half full - but it was crowed enough for them to get a good taste of the birding world.  

It wasn't the best day for birding, but not bad either: Warbling Vireos, Prothonotary, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Yellow, and Canada Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, a Grey-cheeked Thrush and a particularly cooperative Great-horned Owl

The highlight of the day for me, though, was a rare Blanding's Turtle.  This phone shot is the best I could do, since I had decided to swap my camera for a birding book (sacrificing host or knucklehead; you decide).  The turtle is on the log just below the foliage towards the top of the photo. You can just make out the bright yellow throat.
Blanding's Turtles spend most of their time in wetlands, but nest in sandy areas and so are restricted to areas like the great lakes.  They are a regular topic at the annual Oak Openings Research Symposium where we plant monitors are regularly encouraged to look for them.  They were once so common that one of the ponds in Oak Openings Metropark is named Blanding's Pond.  This is the first one I have seen.
He gave us quite a show by diving in the water and coming up with something in his mouth.  He was having a hard time swallowing whatever it was, so leaned off the log onto a lily pad and was able to spit out the object and grab it again in a way that allowed him to swallow it.  After a short rest he plopped into the water.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Misty Morning

The river warmed up enough over the last few weeks to produce steam in the chilly early morning air.

This is the best year yet for my large Allium.  It is spreading nicely.

The hummingbirds are back.  

The lilac has finished blooming.  It was likely planted by the original owners in 1927.  It has the most attractive fragrance of any I've come across.  It doesn't have as many blooms as it used to, though.  I'll have to see if there is anything that can be done to encourage it.

The Large-flowered Trillium flowers are turning pink.  I have one fewer clump this year, but the four clumps with flowers have multiplied (two without).  I have been artificially pollinating them with a disposable make-up applicator the last few years.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


The last two nights we've shut the house up and put the air-conditioning on.  It's a little early in the season for it, but as we get older we don't tolerate the heat and humidity like we used to.
As much as I hate to say it, an added benefit is the muffling of the morning bird song.
For a while, it was just the Robins and Cardinals, who politely wait for sunrise and having cleared their throats a time or two are content to rest a few minutes.  Maybe they are tired from having weathered the winter here.
But this week has brought the return of the Northern Orioles and the House Wrens.  They do not wait for the sun and seem to have endless energy.

This week has also brought the gentler songs of the warblers.  We've seen the Yellow, Blackburnian and Yellow-rumped (better known as butter-butts) in our yard.  The songs of the Catbirds and Song sparrows are always welcome.  They do not seem to be early risers.  An Eastern Phoebe has been feeding in the Redbud trees, but she has been silent.  Perhaps she is nesting on the nearby railroad bridge.

I have always wondered why we have never had a nesting pair of Mallards.  There is such good habitat, especially when you consider they regularly nest on manicured lawns in the suburbs - miles from water.
This year the prospects look brighter.  A pair has been hanging around a log on the shore and periodically in the thick plantings below the lower deck.  
They had better disguise the nest well.  I've seen a raccoon mom transferring a kit from the smaller to the larger cavities in the big oak near the patio.