Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mucking! - 10 Oct 2015

On Tuesday of this week Brian Zwiebel sent out a Facebook post asking if anyone would be interested in a day of "mucking" for LeConte's and Nelson's Sparrows at Metzger's Marsh in NW Ohio. I was all set to join them on Wednesday until some rush work came in, so I was bummed that I couldn't join them. When he put the call out again last evening I jumped at the chance - I'd been wanting to go chase Ammodramus sparrows for years!

I arrived at the boat launch at Metzger's Marsh this morning and met Mark Hainin and Jeff Abke. Brian arrived, and the four of us donned our waders and headed into the "muck". We tramped through relatively dry marsh for a few hundred yards looking for sparrows while heading directly east into the sunrise. Viewing was bad, but we heard the first of hundreds of Swamp Sparrows that we'd see this morning. Bugling Sandhill Cranes got our attention and four birds flew by.

Soon the ground below our feet got increasingly wet, and soft, and we were soon bogging down. But Brian saw the first of two Nelson's Sparrows and called us over. I managed to get my binoculars on the birds as it flew off, but there would be no photos. Meanwhile, Mark was able to get some pics of a nearby Marsh Wren.

We continued heading east out into the marsh, and found ourselves among a myriad of Swamp Sparrows by the dozens. I almost stepped on one of numerous Sora that we heard during the morning, this one flushing under my feet and flying off for deeper cover.

We stopped at one point and played Swamp Sparrow calls so that we could spend some time photographing the birds, and resting. With early morning sunlight behind us the sparrows were flooded with perfect lighting. The only challenge was to get them close enough to photograph, and to get them to come out from behind their cover.

After continued mucking and increasingly-deepening water we decided to work our way back. Trying to pick our way through heavy marsh and deep water I got stuck, and needed Brian's help to pull my waders out of the muck. Mark took a dive, but managed to save his camera equipment. Jeff got stuck, as well, and needed his tripod to help pull him loose. Meanwhile, the sparrows all but disappeared.

It wasn't until we got back to relatively dryer ground that Brian found a second Nelson's Sparrow, but we failed to flush it from a heavy cattail stand. A little disappointed, we all headed back to the parking lot.

After my first mucking outing I'm exhausted, dehydrated, and aching all over. I also can't wait to get back out here and try again.  Thanks Brian, Mark and Jeff for allowing me to tag along. What a great morning!

1 comment:

Kimberly Warner said...

You described "mucking" just as I remember ... LOL...sorry I missed you guys, but I was able to go out the next few days and score BOTH of the Sparrows :) Love your blog!

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