Thursday, June 23, 2022

American Woodcock

I found myself at Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve in Seneca County, Ohio, at the crack of dawn yesterday. This 267-acre preserve is about all that remains of the former Big Spring Prairie that stretched from Carey to Fostoria. This spring-fed prairie must have been an interesting place before it was mostly obliterated by agriculture. The prairie-fen arced over about ten miles - roughly in the shape of a horseshoe - and was up to a mile in width. It covered parts of Hancock, Seneca, and Wyandot counties.

Springville Marsh still protects a number of rare plants and vestiges of unusual habitat. It's quite birdy, both in migration and during the breeding season. Among many more common species, I tallied Marsh Wren, Yellow-breasted Chat, and a bit surprisingly, Blue Grosbeak. Although I guess I wouldn't be too surprised to turn one of these spectacular southern grosbeaks up anywhere, anymore. They are spreading northward like wildfire.

At one point, I turned a corner on the boardwalk to encounter this fine American Woodcock. He didn't react and allowed me some nice imagery. It was only when I slowly started dropping to the boardwalk, the better to get on its level, that the bird flushed. The woodcock is a breeder, and the rich soft peaty soils of the "marsh" are an ideal substrate for probing invertebrates with that long bill. 

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