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Paulding County

Last night, Doug & Micki Dunakin, elite Paulding County birders, posted a note to the Ohio Birds listserv about a Barnacle Goose that they had found on their home turf yesterday. I was up there bright and early today to look. Last spring, I began some correspondence with some folks who have been taking a hard look at North American Barnacle Goose records. They have subjected some feather samples of vagrants/escapees to stable isotope analysis, and the results indicated that the birds came from the far north - well beyond where one would reasonably expect escapees to originate from.

But more on this later. It is a blog in itself. And no such luck today, the Barnacle Goose was not to be found. Hopefully it will reappear.

Paulding County and some of its neighbors, such as Van Wert County, are often trivialized if not dismissed outright when it comes to good birding locations. These counties are generally flat as a pancake and seemingly 99% agriculture.

But there are oases amongst the beans, corn, and wheat. I actually had a really good day of birding, and you can read a brief synopsis here.

Following are a few photos from today, showing that Winter's wrath is not yet upon us. And believe me, when it is, Paulding County is a tough place to be.

Here's one of those hidden corners, filled with beauty, and by looking at this photo, you might not guess where it was taken. This is a bend in Flat Rock Creek, still shimmering with the colorful hues of ash and maple. A true oasis in a landscape of monotones.

This is more typical of the Paulding County countryside. Acres and acres, miles and miles of agricultural sameness. And to think, this all used to be the Great Black Swamp - the last uncivilized Ohio landscape to be broken and tamed. Tame it they did.

It's been mild enough to allow some hardy flora to persist. This is Red Clover, Trifolium pratense, a common hay crop. It escapes to weedy places prolifically, and is much favored by Clouded and Orange Sulphur butterflies.

Speedy little devil, this one. I only managed this one shot, carefully sneaking up on the little striped beast, but off he sped, so quickly I couldn't even tell where he went. Looks like a yellowjacket, eh? That's the general idea, as most predators won't mess with those nasty stingers. Except, this is a fly known as Helophilus fasciatus, one of the wasp mimic flies. They're good - most people would likely be fooled, an more to the point, presumably so would potential meal-makers.

Fall Field Cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus, in full fiddle. I think they are getting desperate, what with shortening days and falling temperatures. I was able to get right up in their grills today, and photo them as they rubbed out their chirping melodies. This one is facing away, and is in the process of rubbing its wings together in a process called stridulation. When they do this, the wings are held aloft, over the body. Raspers and scrapers on each wing grate together, and in the case of this species, create a classic series of cricketlike chirps. I got some killer video; jusy have to figure out how to upload it to You Tube.

The day ended on a beautiful note, with one of the showiest sunsets that I've seen for a while. Note the band of Canada Geese flowing along through the sun. I stopped here to check their ranks, and found myself taking shot after shot of the closing of the day.

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A beautiful close to a gorgeous day.

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