• Terry Grabill

My Patch

I suspect anyone that's been a birder for very long has a patch...that place you know like it's your living room. You want to see a (insert bird name here)? Sit on this bench. Oh, you're looking for a (bird name again)? Stand here. It's your turf. You know what to expect and when to expect it. You can even tell individual birds from it's neighbors. You want to sound like an expert field guide? Take beginning birders to your patch!

This is MY patch. It's only a few miles from home and I've birded there for almost 30 years. I know what to expect when I reach the first dock...if I look right, there's a log that almost always has a hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) perched on it.

This was unexpected on the dock this afternoon. I like snakes a lot and this northern water snake (Nerodia sipidon) was not afraid at all!

As I walk the boardwalk through the forested bog, I can always count on an American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) calling and following me. He's joined in chorus by several Common Yellowthroats (Geothlypis trichas).

The forested bog opens up to an open bog covered in leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) and several skeletons of old white pine (Pinus strobus). If I am patient, I can always find red-headed woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). In fact, I can often see six species of woodpeckers here.

The boardwalk was extended a few years ago to complete a loop back to the parking area. Until recently, I had to walk through the bog and then turn around and back-track. Now, some really great birding areas are available! My new favorite part of my patch offers me reliable viewing of green herons (Butorides virescens).

The final stop on the wetland is where I hear Virginia Rail ( Rallus limicola) occasionally. I've not seen it (yet), but my friend, Dick, has seen it twice. Today, I had a special treat there, a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus)!

I love to share birds and nature with people, especially the nature of my patch. It's a comfortable place, much like visiting a close friend with some things predictable and other things surprising. Sit here, you'll see woodpeckers, stand here, you'll see herons...and look around! You never know what will show itself!




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