Friday, July 4, 2008

Pickerel Creek shorebirds

Right now, as far as I know, the single best shorebird spot in n.w. Ohio is one of the impoundments at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, on the north side of Rt 6 in Sandusky County, about 7 miles east of Fremont. From the southwest corner of the wildlife area (corner of CR 256/Pearson Rd and Rt 6), continue east on Rt 6; in a little over half a mile you'll pass an observation platform on the north side of the road, and a quarter mile past that is a pulloff next to a pumphouse. If you park next to the pumphouse you can walk east on a dike that runs along the south side of a shallow impoundment that has excellent shorebird habitat now, with shallow water and exposed mudflats. On Friday, July 4, I counted the following there: Killdeer 24, Spotted Sandpiper 5, Lesser Yellowlegs 53, Short-billed Dowitcher 86, Least Sandpiper 104, Dunlin 3, and American Avocet 1.

This is the beginning of the fall shorebird migration, and aside from the Dunlins (surprisingly early) and the Am Avocet (surprising anytime), today's species composition was as expected. Lesser Yellowlegs show up in numbers before Greaters, Least Sandpipers show up before Semipalmateds. Within a few days or a couple of weeks, if the habitat remains as good as it is now, the diversity of shorebirds should pick up even more.

Incidentally, if you go back to Pearson Rd / CR 256 and go north a little over a mile, there's a pullout on the right with an interpretive sign about the Prairie Fringed White Orchid. As Su Snyder pointed out a few days ago, there are Sedge Wrens singing in the field east of this sign. On July 4 (in addition to seeing 2 Sedge Wrens), in a brief search northeast of the sign, I found 7 of the orchids blooming, and they're worth seeing as well.

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