Huffman Prairie, and it, like the Wright Brothers' airfield, is part of the massive Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The base houses some of the most sophisticated aircraft in the world. Incredible how far aviation has come in just over a century.
But I was not here to study the history of aircraft. I had not been to the 100-acre Huffman Prairie in a long time, and had been hearing all about how great it looked this year. So, a few Sundays back I headed to Dayton and met up with Grace Cochran of Five Rivers MetroParks, which serves the Dayton area. She was willing to give me a tour of the prairie, which her park district has a big hand in managing along with the air force base and the Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Later, we were joined by Dave Nolin, the park district's Conservation Director and a longtime friend. It was a great trip, and we ended up spending many hours exploring the prairie.
In this shot, Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, and Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii, dominate but plenty of other botanical diversity is visible in the scene.
Had I only been there three weeks prior! That's when Dave made the stunning image above. Remember that for next year - if you wish to visit Huffman Prairie, angle for the tail end of July or the first week in August.
But perhaps best of all, avian-wise, were the Sedge Wrens. As we penetrated deeper into the prairie, we began to hear the males' staccato chatter, which suggests a poorly running sewing machine. These are secretive rather mousey birds prone to foraging, and even singing, in dense cover. Eventually we spotted one as it flew from perch to perch.
In Ohio, Sedge Wrens often don't appear on territory until mid-July or even early August. It is thought that these are birds that already bred at more northerly latitudes, or in the prairie states and provinces to the west. Following that, the wrens move south and east, and nest again in entirely new locales, both in terms of habitat and geography.
Thanks again to Grace and Dave for the tour, and an excellent day in one of Ohio's best prairies.