Meadowbrook Marsh, on the Marblehead Peninsula in Ottawa County. It's not new, of course - I remember stopping regularly to scope out its wetlands many years ago, when driving along the south side of the massive limestone archipelago. But what IS new is that the forward thinking Danbury Township trustees have secured much of the land that comprises the Meadowbrook wetlands, and made it accessible to people in a way that it never was before.
Meadowbrook Marsh really got on the birding community's radar screen during last year's Midwest Birding Symposium at nearby Lakeside. Thanks in large measure to the efforts of Cheryl Harner, MBS raised funds for Meadowbrook and the site was one of our primary MBS birding sites. Meadowbrook is now much better known among the binocular-toting set than it was pre-September 2011. Through a creative carbon offset program sponsored by the Ohio Ornithological Society at MBS, and bolstered by an OOS match, over $7,000.00 was raised to purchase more Meadowbrook property.
Black Swamp Conservancy is working on an additional purchase, which will be helped by the aforementioned OOS funds. Support your local land trusts, and ornithological societies!
Anyway, I'm standing under the shade of the remnants of a tattered ash borer chewed green ash tree, scanning the scene above. First focusing on distant objects - the herons - I finally glanced down, and whoa! I noticed that lush bed of greenery in the lower right corner of the photo.
But there are seven other Sagittaria species known from Ohio, and in addition to the deer's-tongue arrowhead, a couple of great rarities occur around Lake Erie. Only three of them have the unlobed leaves of deer's-tongue, and close inspection is always warranted to ensure which species one has found. The weird leaves of deer's-tongue arrowhead are little more than flattened and widened upper portions of the leaf's petiole. One must take care when judging an arrowhead by its leaves, however. They can be quite variable, depending upon the environmental factors that the plant is exposed to.
The other portion of the plant in the upper part of this photo is the scape, or flowering stem. Its characters are consistent and more important than leaves are for identification. The little balls are the fruit heads, and note how the scape bends sharply at the lowest (largest) fruiting head. That's a good identification character; probably diagnostic for Sagittaria rigida.
We can never protect too many wetlands, especially in the biologically rich hotspot region of the western Lake Erie shoreline and adjacent Sandusky Bay. Kudos to Danbury Township for working hard to conserve Meadowbrook Marsh, and to the Black Swamp Conservancy and the Ohio Ornithological Society for their important roles in protecting this state treasure.