The call of the Sandhill Cranes, that deep primitive sound, the sound of movement and migration came to the Limberlost February 13. Tom White reported seeing a small flock at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve (LSWP). The same day Ben Hess saw a small flock at the Loblolly Marsh. Bill Hubbard counted 500 Sandhill Cranes at the LSWP the next day. J Swygart took pictures of them. Curt Burnette could see them from his desk and took a picture from the west window of the Limberlost Visitor Center. Brian Daughtery took a picture of one of them in flight.
Other harbingers of spring arrived that same week including the woodcock, Wilson’s snipe, and killdeer. By February 17, the red-winged blackbirds were adding their voices to the marsh. On February 18, Randy Lehman and I saw over 80 roosting in a single tree north of the Loblolly Marsh.
Midland’s Chorus frogs began singing near Veronica’s Trail and Woody’s Retreat at the marsh. On February 19, while enjoying time at Woody’s Retreat I heard my first woodcock “peenting” and a snipe calling for a mate. There were 59 painted turtles and one garter snake out catching the sun’s rays. Curt Burnette saw a mourning cloak, the first butterfly of the year!
Bill Hubbard saw 300-350 gulls, mostly ring-billed. It appears they spent one night here before heading north. The first waterfowl began moving through the area. Clara Conroy had a nice list at LSWP on February 18: 6 Northern Shovelers, 53 Greater White-fronted Geese, 80 Northern Pintails, 6 American Black Ducks, 32 Green-winged Teal and 466 Mallards. April Raver captured a picture of Geneva’s first Turkey Vulture of the year.
Randy Lehman took some beautiful sunset photos on February 18 at the Loblolly Marsh. A flock of Sandhill Cranes were calling and flying in front of the setting sun. A celebration of spring migration in February!