After registering for the 10th annual "Shreve Migration Sensation" at 7:00am, I elected to start my birding day at a wildlife area with the humorous name of "Funk Bottoms." Here, off SR95, is an observation tower that overlooks nearly 2000 acres of flooded agricultural fields, filled with waterfowl of all sorts. The pools also harbored a busy population of muskrats, doing their spring cleaning and making repairs to their huts.From the platform, I had great looks though my spotting scope at Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Canada Geese, a few Buffleheads, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, and more Ring-necked Ducks than you could shake a stick at. Here, too, I saw a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, whose white wing patches had me scratching my head for a bit. I was lucky enough to see a single Sandhill Crane fly overhead. Of course, the wetlands was filled with hormonal male Red-winged Blackbirds (and only one female that I saw.) The only sparrows I was able to find were Song.
There were also quite a few Wood Ducks at Funk Bottoms, swimming, flying, calling with their funny squeaky whistles, and even one pair imitating Barn Swallows. Who needs a simple Wood Duck box, when you can nest here?
I know it's hard to see, but trust me, there is a Wood Duck drake balanced on the metal hook protruding from the barn, and his lady is resting in the small entry hole nearby. They seemed to be bonded to this site, and kept coming back to inspect it from all angles.
I even saw him perched casually on the wire to the right. A duck, perching on a wire - incredible!
On my way out of the drive, I was happy to find two of a flock of 20 or more Rusty Blackbirds, reported by a carload of birders who were kind enough to back up the lane and let us know about their discovery. Thanks! Ring-billed and Boneparte's Gulls, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, and the only House Sparrow of the day rounded out my list for the Bottoms.
Next, I stopped by Brown's Bog, but the icy boardwalk made me think twice about exploring this area. I'll have to return in warmer weather to see the pitcher plants and other specialty flora.
A brief stop at Shreve Lake yielded a Common Merganser, a Horned Grebe, my first Great Blue Heron of the day, and birder Su Snyder, who very sweetly shared her birds and her knowledge, but wouldn't let me take her picture. I'll get you another time, Su!
From Shreve Lake, I had planned to visit the Bald Eagle nest site, but somehow, I got a little, well - lost. Let's just say, one shouldn't bird and drive while trying to read a map. Something always suffers.
However, in my quest to find myself and the eagles, I did get some birds that I wouldn't have seen otherwise - a Killdeer, an American Goldfinch, molting into his summer garb, and a lovely pair of Eastern Bluebirds. I also saw this:
(Now you know who makes those plain Amish shirts, pants, and dresses.)
and this.Yes, people were stupid enough to drive through this flooded spot on County Rd. 1, despite the warning signs. I didn't think the water looked that high, but the current seemed quite strong. I elected to turn around and head back. I'm glad I did, since this little ovine family was only visible on my return trip back County Rd. 8.Doesn't that make you say "awwwww?"
After all the effort, and the cute overload, the Bald Eagle nest was a bit anti-climatic. From over a half-mile away, my look was limited to a tuft of white feathers sticking up from a pile of sticks. Not very satisfying. I have been spoiled by the close views I have had of our local eagle nest over the years. Instead of brooding, I turned my back on the eagle and my scope on yet another flooded field. I was rewarded with American Wigeon, my first Tree Swallows of the year, and a heard-only Northern Flicker.
This is always a good sign - other birders stopped along the road.This is Cemetery Rd., and it is here that I found American Coots, Redheads, and a Ruddy Duck.
Along the roads, other several birds were added to my list for the day - American Robin, Common Grackle, American Crow, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeons, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Turkey Vulture on the ground that I first thought was a turkey, until I realized it was eating a carcass while trying to defend it from two aggressive crows.
I had intended to attack the Wright Marsh section of Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area next, but after hiking back to a series of pools and levies, I noticed it was nearly lunch time. Over-ruled by my stomach, I abandoned the promise of more waterfowl, including rumored Tundra Swans, and drove back to the Shreve Elementary School, the hub of the day's events.
After lunch and a quick cruise through the Birders' Market, I settled in to hear this "rare bird," Jim McCormac, share his observations of the rare birds have recently appeared in Ohio, and his thoughts on which species might be next to show up in our state. (Fish Crow and Ash-throated Flycatcher were two of his top three, in case you were wondering.)
Before Jim's talk, I was able to see another Ohio rarity in person, this gorgeous Snowy Owl.
By now, it was 2:30pm. I had been birding since dawn and faced a 5 hour drive home, so I decided to call it quits. I missed a lot, it seems, and will have to return to Wayne County for more birding adventures, but even in the parking lot of a birding festival, photo ops happen.
In Amish country, bicycles are a common mode of transportation for birders
but I was more amused by the horse and buggy I found parked next to a row of cars and SUVs.
Did you ever want to peek inside an Amish buggy? I have, but after shooting one picture, I felt as though I was intruding and backed off.
Thank you, residents of Shreve, Friends of Killbuck Marsh, and the Greater Mohican Audubon Society, for inviting us to share your great outdoors. In the words of the Govern-ator, "Ah'll be bahk."