While the birding was not so hot yesterday, and the weather was decidedly cool, I still had a great time afield with some northeast Ohio friends. I met up with Andy Jones, Jim McCarty, John Pogacnik, and Larry Richardson at the legendary Headlands Dunes in Mentor, Ohio. This small state nature preserve boasts an enormous bird list - it rivals that of the more famous Magee Marsh Bird Trail and vicinity - and has many other natural charms.
I was somewhat ridiculed for taking this shot. "That's not a bird, Jim" and other such stuff. No kidding. It's an Eastern Fox Squirrel, and quite a good looking beast. A lunker of a squirrel, our largest. Their orangish-brown plumelike brush of a tail is remarkable, bigger than the rest of the animal.
We ran into this outstanding clump of what I believe are Golden Pholiota mushrooms in the woods at Mentor Lagoons. I tried to get McCarty to eat one in order that the rest of the group could observe to see what side effects there might be. No go, he wouldn't do it. I don't think this is one of those killer 'shrooms, anyway.
Unfortunately, my camera was still set to macro from the mushroom photo shoot when this Red Fox trotted out onto the trail, hence the blurriness of the photo. It's always exciting to see one of these common but seldom seen mammals, and this one gave us all some great looks before turning tail and trotting off down the path.This is the Wake Robin Trail at Mentor Marsh, owned and managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The museum, Jim Bissell, and his staff are to be commended for their fine restoration work here. The area aroud this boardwalk used to be a dense jungle of Giant Reed, Phragmites australis, which can still be seen on the left. Once this Eurasian grass takes hold, it chokes out most other plant diversity. Bissell et al have cleared out a big swath, allowing the natives to flourish. And with increased native plant diversity comes a big increase in birds and other animals. It was here that we had bird of the day, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
All in all, a great day.