Friday, November 3, 2017

Kent State Wetlands

Obtained from the Frank family in 1967, Stark Pond has since become the centerpiece of an Environmental Education Center at Kent State University, characterized by riparian woodlands, cattail marshes and spring fed ponds.  The 200 acre refuge, accessed by a paved hike-bike trail, stretches along the southeast edge of the campus.

Today, I used that trail to explore the wetland.  Despite the cool, cloudy weather, I encountered an excellent variety of birds, including wood ducks, gadwall, pied-billed grebes and a host of songbirds; among the latter were white-throated and song sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, northern cardinals, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers and blue jays.  American robins were especially common in the riparian woodlands, feasting on berries, insects and earthworms.

The highlight of my visit was a red-shouldered hawk, surveying the scene from a dead tree.  Often associated with marshlands, this buteo typically hunts from a perch, looking for small mammals, snakes and a variety of amphibians.  Huddled in the chilly air, he was clearly the king of this wetland.