Birding at the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio.Saturday evening, while the sun still hung at a respectable level in the sky, Heather (of Heather of the Hills) and I stole over to Magee Marsh. It was a forty-minute drive, which ate up a bit of daylight, so when we arrived we knew we would have to hurry if we wanted to see anything. Almost as soon as we stepped onto the the boardwalk we were rewarded with a sweet glimpse of a Gray-cheeked Thrush. Sitting on the rail, he almost seemed surprised in a "what are you two doing here so late in the day?" sort of way. The last time I saw a Gray-cheeked Thrush was on the Little Miami trail at the height of spring migration in May. Who knows where this little guy had spent his summer--maybe as far north as the upper reaches of Alaska! With fall migration in full swing, our little Gray-cheeked Thrush might have been a new arrival, or maybe he had been hanging around for a few days to fatten up for the rest of his journey south. We watched him through the binocs for a bit until he flew off, then we walked on. With the sun sinking ever closer to the horizon, we started to think this trip was going to turn into nothing more than a reconnaissance mission, but we shouldn't have worried, because as we neared the end of the boardwalk, a beautiful Green Heron stepped into view. He was perched on a mossy log just to the left of the boardwalk on a small pond. A gorgeous bird, his focused stare as he watched tiny fish move beneath the water was mesmerizing. I cranked up the ISO on my camera and took a few shots, but the sun had already given up the fight and was rapidly sinking below the horizon. As the wet log, spongy with green growth, started to darken in the fading light, so too did the heron, making it nearly impossible to capture a clean shot....but...that's what flashes are for! I had never used my flash and had to think about how to activate it. I assumed the heron would fly away as soon as the flash went off, but he didn't. He actually came closer. Maybe the flash was attracting the fish and bringing them to the surface of the water, because he was suddenly able to pluck one out right in front of us--too fast to capture on film. He hung around for a long time while Heather and I, and then another gentleman flashed away. After he was full, he slunk back to the shelter of branches and leaves, deep in the darkness. With that...we three slunk off too. We still had enough light to see through the leaves, but that was about it.
A Green Heron in the fading light at Magee Marsh.
This guy liked the flash and walked closer toward me.
Look at his focused gaze. I love those eyes!!
Stepping through the green growth on the decaying log,
the heron carefully picked his way across the log,
completely stable on those lovely, huge feet of his...
very fun to watch!
I can see why birders love this boardwalk in the spring. It floats over a wet woods thick with trees, insects, ponds, and marshes. It must be a haven for warblers who need easy meals of protein to replenish their fat stores before getting ready to finish the last leg of their journey north over the Great Lakes. I will definitely head up to Lakeside some time this coming spring to catch a bit of spring warbler maddness at Magee Marsh.
After stepping off the boardwalk, Heather and I walked to
the other side of the parking lot and down to Lake Erie.
This is what we saw. Lake Erie sunsets are spectacular.