Lenawee Birder’s Tour Ives Road Fen

This past Sunday, The Nature Conservancy opened its doors to the Ives Road Fen for a group of birders and naturalist of all ages. Russell Columbus and his wife Kristin, both Nature Conservancy volunteers, along with Chuck Pearson, the Ives Road Fen project leader, led an extensive tour of the fen. The tour was a three mile hike through the upland grassy meadows and small oaks, down the valley into the old rock and limestone quarry, and through the river bottom and fen.
The weather was perfect for a walk and taking pictures; sunny skies, a gentle breeze and about 65°F! Highlights included a meet and greet with endangered Blanchard Cricket frogs (Acris creptitans) where we gathered around a pong edge to find the small amphibians with a bright green triangle on the back of their heads. The young members of the hiking group successfully found the frogs first along with a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta). While looking for frogs, we also observed and listened to many Northern Mockingbirds, happily inhabiting the scrub piles around the pond! The woods held wildflowers for us to explore such as yellow and purple Violas, Spring Beauty’s, and Dutchman’s Britches that started growing. From a hillside before we walked down to the river bottom, we could observe a Great Blue Heron rookery across the river with five visible herons sitting on their nests.
We briefly stopped for a rest at a house purchased by The Nature Conservancy before heading into the fen and watched Spring Azure butterflies (Celastrina ladon) dancing around the lawn with Golden Crowned Kinglets singing in the Elm trees nearby. The fen itself is very alkaline with a pH of about 8 and hosts many micro habitats and plants. It was difficult to navigating through the fen with no real walking trails and soft peat that seemed to sink when you least expected it.
Overall, we saw a total of 29 different bird species and experienced many natural beauties for early spring at the fen. For more information about the Ives Road Fen, please visit The Nature Conservancy’s website at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/michigan/placesweprotect/ives-road-fen-preserve.xml . If you would like to volunteer at the Ives Road Fen, they have workdays every Saturday beginning in April to August from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

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Peent! Peent! Peent!

Peent!  Peent!  Peent! by Goyo P
Peent! Peent! Peent!, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

Thanks to eBird I was able to locate a field full of American Woodcock. My friend, Darrin O’Brien had spotted some about ten years ago when he used to live in Lenawee County. Tonight I decided to see if they were still there. I was happy to find at least four Woodcock Peentng and putting on aerial displays in the same field Darrin found them ten years ago.

Location: Kiwanis Trail (just south of Tecumseh, MI). There is one parking space where the trail crosses Occidental Hwy. It crosses Occidental just north of Mitchell Landscaping. Park and walk southwest approximately 100 yards until you are past Mitchell Landscaping buildings and look and listen to the north. Go at dusk (approximately 8 pm) Listen for “peent” calls. Watch for aerial displays after dark.

Rare Geese in Morenci

Ross or Snow? by Goyo P
Ross or Snow?, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

If you are interested in learning about birding hot spots throughout southeast Michigan then a subscription to the University of Michigan’s birders list serve might come in handy.

Here’s a post by Karl Overman from Farmington Hills describing the Ross’s Geese at the Morenci Sewage Lagoons.
Overman wrote, “Late on Friday, March 16th, I found two Ross’s type Geese at the sewage lagoons at Morenci in Lenawee County close to the Ohio line. The were resting on the dike with Canadas and a single Tundra Swan. Given the mix and volume of white geese–Snow, Ross’s and Snow/Ross’s found earlier this month in Allegan SGA, caution is the word on identifying small white geese it seems. My thought on these two birds is that one was a hybrid and one was a Ross’s. One appeared to have a thicker bill and a bigger grin patch than I am comfortable in calling a Ross’s.

There was a good selection of waterfowl at this sewage lagoon with most of the birds on the back lagoon that is not visible from the main road but is accessible by driving a short dirt track and then walking up to the fence. Ducks there included Wood Duck (4), Shoveler (82), Ring-necked (130), Lesser Scaup (100 plus), Green-winged Teal (45), Bufflehead, Redhead, Ruddy (only 2).

The lagoons are at the NW corner of Morenci.”