Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Horseheads Marsh

My commute takes me by a small stretch of wetland known variably has the Holding Point, the Center at Horseheads, or quite simply, as the Horseheads Marsh. I often stop on my way home for a quick, 15-20 minute "point count," though not during the winter months. For starters, it's often simply too cold, it's typically dark when I'm passing the marsh, and even if it were light, diversity is pretty low. The water is usually frozen, so waterfowl are out; there may be sparrows hunkered down in the brushy areas, but again, it's dark and the stops are short.

Horseheads MarshView of the marsh from "the Hump." © Mike Powers 2007

But in mid- to late-March the water opens up and I find myself driving by in the light. This little marsh becomes a much-needed stop, especially at the end of a day spent staring at a computer screen. "The Hump," a raised area that overlooks four pools and lots of cattails, is a perfect spot to park the scope, get out the notebook, and watch/listen for what's around.

Red-winged BlackbirdMale Red-winged Blackbird. © Mike Powers 2007

The blackbirds have reclaimed the marsh, virtually every third cattail serves as a perch for a male claiming a territory. Another much welcome sign of spring!

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