The old adage of being in the right place at the right time has been a boon for myself and members of my family while viewing wildlife.
I have been spending time watching and trying to identify waterfowl during duck migration. The interest grew after participating in a waterfowl ID clinic last year sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area.
Trips have taken me to local bodies of water such as the Maumee River and Oxbow Lake, but also to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area along Lake Erie and Pointe Mouilee Game Area in Rockwood, Michigan. Magee Marsh is 2,000 acres of wetlands on Lake Erie. Pointe Mouillee consists of 4,040 acres of coastal wetlands in Lake Erie near the mouth of the Huron River. Both attract thousands of ducks.
After spending much of a day in Cleveland, a side trip to Magee Marsh was quite a respite.
We saw a plethora of northern shovelers (also known as spoonbills). The drake has a distinct green head and is one of the prettier ducks. Also spotted a pair of gadwells and a blue wing teal. We also saw grebes and coots. And a green heron flew out of the cattails along one of the area’s dikes.
One bald eagle flew over our vehicle while in the area’s parking lot where two eagle nests are located, an eagle flew up to its nest with wings spread and white tail feathers easily visible to the naked eye.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot at Pointe Mouillee we spotted a red-breasted merganser drake. On a 2 1/2- hour driving tourney of the area, we saw numerous waterfowl including shovelers, coots, mallards, ruddy ducks, canvasback, scaup and horned grebes. We also saw numerous cormorants plus usual marsh visitors Canada geese and white egret.
Numerous Caspian terns were among the shorebirds we saw including what we think were Forester terns. The other shorebirds we saw were Dunlins.
A highlight of the tour was seeing two of the three nesting pairs of ospreys on the area. Two pair were on hacking stations. And a couple took the flight as we neared their nests. The three nesting pairs of ospreys have been there for 5, 7 and 12 years.
As we left the area, a pair of bald eagles flew overhead.
Closer to home, we have seen a pair of migrating common loons along with canvasback, pie-billed grebes, horned grebes, mallards, shovelers, coots, buffleheads and hooded mergansers and possibly goldeneyes. We also have seen some king fishers.
Among waterfowl sightings, the highlight has been seeing a drake wood duck sitting on a branch along the Maumee River. I’ve seen wood ducks in trees before, but it is an unusual site since so few ducks nest in tree cavities.
Other wildlife sightings have included seeing. Mink headed toward the Tiffin River, turkeys out in a field strutting around and deer grazing. The most intriguing sighting involved four deer at Independence Dam State Park, located west of Defiance.
The four ran in front of our vehicle and headed toward the old Erie Canal and like across a county road for a farm field and some leftovers from last fall’s harvest. However, they ran down the towpath and eventually crossed back in front our vehicle and into the Maumee and began swimming across the river. At one point, the river was low enough for them to walk, but they went into deeper water and continued swimming to the other side. Two of the deer exploded out of the water as they jumped a large dead tree lying in the water. The four headed up a hill and eventually out of sight. This is not the first time I’ve seen deer swimming a river. They are strong swimmers.
Remember to see various things in the outdoors you have to get outside if you want to be in the right spot at the right time.
* * *
Beginning birding tours are available during International Migratory Bird Day weekend at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, which is recognized as one of the top 10 birding sports in the country.
The tours, which take place May 11-12 are sponsored by the Ohio Ornithological Society (OOS). These outings are targeted at novice or new birding enthusiasts and help people who are new to birding get better acquainted with the beauty of birds.
According to the Ohio DOW, interested individuals may sign up for the tours by emailing email@example.com. Persons should provide their name, phone number, and requested date and time-slot. Additional information will be provided upon registration.
Walks will be held at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. May 11 and at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. May 12. Walks are limited to 15 participants each and will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
* * *
Young turkey hunters in Limaland bagged 37 wild birds during the annual youth turkey hunt last weekend. That harvest was down from last year when area young hunters took 49 turkeys. The harvest was up in 2 local counties, even 1 and down in 6. Statewide the harvest was down compared to a year ago when young hunters bagged 1,860 birds compared to 1,318 this spring.
The youth spring turkey season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed by the Division of Wildlife to offer a safe and productive early hunting experience for young hunters. Special hunting seasons are also available for upland game, white-tailed deer and waterfowl.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL