Notes From The Field

Siebenthaler Fen & Glenn Thompson Reserve

With Kathy working today, and the boys still asleep, I decided to sneak away for a morning of birding. With the chance of rain increasing as the day wears on, I didn’t want to wait too long to hit the road. So I left about 8:15 and still made it up at my destination by 9:05.

I’m so glad that I discovered the Beaver Creek Wetlands system. It’s not too far to drive and they have so much to choose from when it comes to different habitat for birds. So today was Siebenthaler Fen, a jewel in the whole Beaver Creek Wetlands system. But what is a “Fen”? A fen is a type of wetlands which is fed by mineral rich surface water or groundwater, which is either neutral or alkaline. Plus they are high with dissolved minerals, which is different from a bog. Bogs are more acidic with low dissolved minerals, and usually dominated by low-growing plants and mosses.

The mile long boardwalk starts at the parking lot, and goes directly into a forested wetlands.

This portion of the boardwalk was my favorite section. It was a total immersion into a wetlands that was different than I’ve experienced before.  Getting off the boardwalk isn’t an option during your entire walk. Unlike Koogler Wetland and Prairie Preserve where you’re on a trail that gets pretty soggy half way through, there is no dry ground as far as I could tell.

A typical scene through the first section of the boardwalk.

There’s no chasing birds in this park. If you can’t see it from the boardwalk, then you’re not going to see it. However the fact that the boardwalk was built has given people access to a wonderful piece of wetlands that might not ever have been preserved.

Northern Cardinal digiscoped

Typical flora…

and fauna.

Birding was pretty good as I made my way back towards the observation tower which was named after the sister of the original land owner who donated the property in 1995 to the Nature Conservancy. Then they turned it over to the O.D.N.R Division of Wildlife.

Boardwalk in the early section of the trail.

Nan’s Tower

I wanted to get a picture of the wetlands as it stretched out before me from Nan’s Tower looking Northward, however the Sun was still low in the horizon that I opted to put the Sun to my back and take a picture from where I came in.

Nan’s Tower is sort of the halfway point in the trail and after a short hike you come upon a kisok where there is all sorts of information about the wetlands and pictures of some of the plant life that is found in the fen.

This would be a great place to duck into if it started to rain.

I may not be the best bird photographer, however I do pretty good with butterflies, such as this Tiger Swallowtail.

After leaving the kiosk, the boardwalk dives into some pretty tall vegetation, and the ground water is audible under foot as you walk.

As the boardwalk undulated over the wet ground, I stopped on occasion to bounce up and down to see if water would seep through. It did. There was a sign at this section that warned that beaver have been busy and water getting on the boardwalk was going to happen. No water actually covered the boardwalk, though I’m sure it could happen.

I left after spending more than 2 hours there, and with time still left before I need to head home, I decided to go to Glenn Thompson Reserve down the road.

I took less than 10 minutes to drive to the entrance to this small park, which is a part of the Greene County Park District. I started  my hike about 11:30 not knowing what to expect. At first the hike was very noisy with all the traffic from U.S. 35 just a stone throws away. But as the trail wanders back into the woods, it does start to quiet down.

This is pretty much how the trail winds it’s way through the woods. Even though the birds were sparser than at Siebenthaler, I did have a few surprises. Glenn Thompson Reserve borders Beaver Creek all on one side. And being so close to water it also provides canoe access to all you canoeists.

It was along this section that I came upon a group of trees that hung over the water. That’s when I noticed birds on the far side feeding amongst the leaves. Putting my binoculars on them I first noticed the Prothonotary Warbler. However there was another bird with it, and this one turned out to be a Black and White Warbler. That was a real treat, but not as good as this female Blue Grosbeak. I had a difficult time ID’ing this one. It wasn’t till I got home that I was able to put my finger on it.

Trail side fauna

I arrived back at the parking lot at 12:45 pm, and some great memories. I think what strikes me the most about both places was that no one was there except me. It gives you a surreal feeling when you think that you’re all alone with you’re own piece of Heaven on Earth. I’d highly recommend both, especially Siebenthaler Fen.

Notable birds for the day, for both locations include:

  1. Indigo Bunting
  2. Northern Cardinal
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Common Crow
  5. Barn Swallow
  6. Blue Jay
  7. Grackle
  8. Rock Dove
  9. Eastern Goldfinch
  10. Eastern King Bird
  11. American Robin
  12. Black-billed Cuckoo
  13. Double-creasted Cormorant
  14. Song Sparrow
  15. Green Heron
  16. Great Horned Owl
  17. Alder Flycatcher-Lifer # 288
  18. Common Yellowthroat
  19. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  20. Downy Woodpecker
  21. Carolina Chickadee
  22. Gray catbird
  23. Carolina Wren
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. Red-winged Black Bird
  26. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  27. Eastern Towhee
  28. Cedar Waxwing
  29. House Wren
  30. Tufted Titmouse
  31. Acadian Flycatcher
  32. Blus Brosbeak
  33. Belted Kingfisher
  34. Prothonotary Warbler
  35. Black and White Warbler
  36. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  37. Red-tailed Hawk
  38. Turkey Vulture
  39. White-breasted Nuthatch
  40. Chimney Swift


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3 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. Looks like a great place to walk- and I too enjoy when I’m alone in a natural area, you feel like a part of nature then.

  2. White Winged Dove

  3. So I’m VERY late to this party, but I just wanted to agree….Siebenthaler Fen is a wonderful place! I live less than 10 min from the Fen and just yesterday saw my first Belted Kingfisher there. She was noisy, pretty, and dove down into the fen for some lunch. Seems like the Beavers have been working hard, too. After the beginning section, where it starts to ‘open up’, there is a large beaver dam in the river and lots of standing water under the boardwalk.

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