NE OH, fifty miles south of Lake Erie, is certainly not the center of the
shorebird migration. We are, however, trying to provide feeding grounds for
those that do come though and we are in the process of restoring a recently
acquired fish farm to wetlands. Artificially lowering the water level of just one
pond that has naturalized itself over the last few years attracted a more or
less steady number of 130 shorebirds to the mud flats over the last week.
They include lesser and greater yellowlegs; least, spotted (nesting) solitary
and pectoral sandpipers; short-billed dowitchers, killdeer and semi-palmated
plover -- and probably a few short term visitors that I missed.
If I may post a request for advice, I'm collecting as much information as
possible before making any major changes and I would appreciate any input on
this restoration. The lowland area is about 200 acres, about half of which was
abandoned and has naturalized (this includes the usual non native plants which
we are removing). The other half is made up of rows of deep ponds that are
roughly 100 by 300 feet. Should the dykes between these ponds be bulldozed?
Mill Creek runs parallel to the wetland, but it's about 200 feet away and was
channeled 100 years ago. Should we make a cut into the stream bank and dykes
in order to return the stream to its original meandering course through the
wetland or should we continure to control water levels mechanically? I should
mention that this will be a general wildlife sanctuary, not just a shorebird
habitat, although that is a high priority.
I realize that this description is sketchy, but I would be happy to provide
all details to anyone who might be interested in helping. Thank you.
Canfield, OH (Youngstown area)