I’ve Got Swamp Fever

Metzger Marsh

Metzger Marsh

In the early 1800s, a large part of northwestern Ohio was an impenetrable swamp, inhabited only by a small number of Indians and a few hardy settlers. Somewhere along the way this 12-county area became known as the Great Black Swamp, known for its mosquitoes and a dreaded summertime disease called swamp fever. By mid-century it had mostly been drained and turned into farmland though, and all that remains of it now are the marshes of Lucas and Ottawa counties: Magee Marsh, Metzger Marsh, and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

If the Great Black Swamp was still in existence today it probably would be a nature preserve and wildlife refuge similar to the Everglades in Florida. (– Jim Mollenkopf, in his book The Great Black Swamp)

Yellow Warbler at Magee Marsh on May 2, 2015

Yellow Warbler at Magee Marsh on May 2, 2015

Thankfully, I’ve got the 21st century form of swamp fever. The primary symptom is an insatiable desire to roam the marshes, woodlands, and meadows, watching hundreds of species of birds migrating through. The fever also causes a person to become blinded to virtually everything else for weeks at a time: household chores are ignored, as are friends and family–unless those friends and family are also afflicted with the fever. Everyone knows the fever is much more fun when you can share it with others.

Those who suffer from the modern version of swamp fever recognize fellow sufferers by their attire, which looks like this:

My t-shirts for the 2015 Biggest Week in American Birding!

My t-shirts for the 2015 Biggest Week in American Birding!

I’m actually deliriously happy to have this particular affliction. I just wish it could last a while longer.

Great Egret hunting in the marsh

Great Egret hunting in the marsh

The photos shared here were taken in the marshes of northwest Ohio in the past couple of weeks. On Friday I’ll be heading back down there for 10 glorious days in the “Warbler Capital of the World.” I’ll be doing some volunteer work for the Biggest Week in American Birding, catching up with friends from across the country, and trying to see as many beautiful birds as I can in this all-too-brief period of time.

All aboard the BSBO birding express!

All aboard the BSBO birding express!

Did you notice my cute little BSBO hat? (BSBO stands for Black Swamp Bird Observatory — aren’t you glad you know where their name came from now?) I usually hate wearing hats, so I was thrilled to find this new style in their gift shop yesterday. I think it looks like a conductor’s hat instead of a baseball cap. And within 15 minutes of putting it on, a total stranger yelled across the parking lot at Magee Marsh to tell me he liked my hat…proof that it’s a keeper.

Double-crested Cormorant at Magee Marsh

Double-crested Cormorant at Magee Marsh

Palm Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

Palm Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

Prothonotary Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

Prothonotary Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

Black-throated Green Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

Black-throated Green Warbler at Magee Marsh, May 2, 2015

John Burroughs sign at Magee Marsh (2)

Yes, this.

I hope you enjoyed these photos, and I also hope I’ll have many more to share with you very soon. Even if you’re not lucky enough to live near the Great Black Swamp, make sure you still keep your eyes peeled in your neighborhood–you never know who might use your yard as a migration rest stop!

This entry was posted in BWIAB, Migration and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to I’ve Got Swamp Fever

  1. Breath taking captures as always. i bet i would have swamp fever too with all this beautiful nature Kim.

  2. Frank (UK) says:

    Hi Kim. Popped in via Kelly’s blog (Red and the Peanut). I’ve been reading a lot about Magee Marsh and beginning to think that I may have to fly over the Atlantic and experience some ‘swamp fever’ ,,, maybe next year.

    Very much enjoyed viewing your beautiful photos

    • Hi Frank. Thanks for your nice comment. I hope you do make a trip across the pond next year. We have lots of international visitors here right now and they all seem to be having a marvelous time seeing the birds!

  3. Littlesundog says:

    Lovely photos! I can feel the excitement of it all in your words! I’m glad you are having a great time… and keep the photographs coming!

  4. Charanya says:

    Can’t wait to go there for my first ever BIAB experience! great blog Kim 🙂 will be following it all through the season!!

  5. Michelle says:

    I’m going for the first time next week and cannot wait to catch the fever!!!

  6. pat clair says:

    All the warblers that you show have yellow on them-Do they all have that color in some fashion?

  7. linda elenbaas says:

    Like the previous comment, I have swamp fever also. It is therapy for the soul–God’s nature on display.

  8. Jane says:

    The yellow warbler is so vibrant! I think I’d have swamp fever (the good kind) too. They are such wonderful habitats to see a variety of birds, insects and amphibians. I feel the same way as John Burroughs’ quote. Nature is my therapy. Thanks for sharing your love and enthusiasm for the natural world. 🙂

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