A Delayed Chorus

Though another chilly air mass has dropped into the American Heartland, the loud, rising calls of upland chorus frogs echoed across the Garth Wetlands, in northern Columbia, this afternoon.  Resembling the sound of a thumbnail running along a plastic comb, the call of these tiny tree frogs is generally heard by late February; this year, due to our long, frigid winter, their chorus was delayed by several weeks.

Joining the distinctive din of the chorus frogs were the high-pitched notes of spring peepers and the duck-like chortle of leopard frogs.  The usual mix of permanent and winter songbirds sang from the adjacent woodlands, their tunes more intense in the high March sun, and an armada of aquatic turtles basked on a muddy bank.

The highlight of my afternoon visit, however, was the presence of a long-billed "sandpiper" that snoozed at the edge of a marsh.  Its striped crown and back identified it as a common snipe, likely en route to more northern breeding grounds.  Snipe migrate in flocks at night, stopping to rest and feed (usually alone) during the day.