Picture Ohio! – Springfield Bog Metropark

Black-eyed Susans, Springfield Bog Metropark
Black-eyed Susans, Springfield Bog Metropark

Springfield Bog Metropark is one of the newest additions to the Metroparks, Serving Summit County system of parks surrounding Akron in northeast Ohio. The 256-acre park, which includes more than 100 acres of wetlands, opened in January, 2011 after it was purchased for $2.1 million by The Trust for Public Land, which then transferred the property to Metroparks, Serving Summit County. In the southwest corner of the area are Young’s Bogs, a 12-acre and a 5-acre kettle hole bog named for the Young family, who settled nearby in 1877. Highbush huckleberries were grown commercially in the bogs until the 1950s. Another 91-acre wetland is located on the western edge of the property.

Black-eyed Susans & Canada Wild Rye
Black-eyed Susans & Canada Wild Rye

The most attractive part of the park from a scenic photography perspective is a 165-acre prairie that is being developed on the old farm fields which make up the bulk of  Springfield Bog Metropark. Beginning in 2010, the fields have been seeded with more than 40 species of prairie plants, which bloom from late spring through the fall. When I visited in early July, black-eyed Susan, Canada wild rye, plains coreopsis, horseweed, and several other species were putting on a grand display.

Canada Rye, Plains Coreopsis, & Black-eyed Susans
Canada Wild Rye, Plains Coreopsis, & Black-eyed Susans

The park is a popular destination for joggers and walkers, who use a 1.6-mile loop trail that skirts the edge of  the prairie. When I visited, at least a dozen species of butterflies were flitting among the prairie plants, while widow skimmers, halloween pennants, black saddlebags, and a few common green darner dragonflies hunted in the grasses. Giant yellow and black cicada killers patrolled sections of the loop trail, and cottontail rabbits scampered for cover as I hiked around the edge of the prairie.

Male Dickcissel, Springfield Bog Metropark
Cottontail Rabbits, Springfield Bog Metropark

The park is a popular destination for local birders, who visit to observe and study the growing number of bird species that are making this developing prairie their seasonal home.

Male Dickcissel, Springfield Bog Metropark
Male Dickcissel, Springfield Bog Metropark

The star of the avian community at the Springfield Bog prairie right now is undoubtedly the dickcissel, a sparrow-sized bird that looks a bit like a miniature eastern meadowlark, or a house sparrow painted with patches of yellow. Dickcissels are common in prairies and old farm fields in the Midwest, and in recent years have been extending their range eastward into Ohio. The dozen or so dickcissels in residence at the Springfield Bog prairie are on the eastern edge of their North American breeding territory.

Male Dickcissel, Springfield Bog Metropark
Male Dickcissel, Springfield Bog Metropark

Dickcissels arrive in Ohio during May or early June, and build a nest near the ground in the prairie grasses and shrubs. Later in the summer, when their breeding activities are completed, they gather into flocks and migrate south to winter in the llanos of Venezuela, where they assemble into huge flocks that may exceed one million birds.  Dickcissels are fairly tame, and with patience singing males may be approached close enough to allow portrait photography with a long telephoto lens.

Male Goldfinch, Springfield Bog Metropark
Male American Goldfinch, Springfield Bog Metropark

American goldfinches are common along the loop trail at Springfield Bog Metropark, and when they are feeding on prairie plant seeds they are easily approached for photography. The lemon yellow plumage of male goldfinches is easy to overexpose in bright sunlight, and I was grateful when the bird shown above obligingly flew into a patch of shade before posing for the photographer.

Male Indigo Bunting, Springfield Bog Metropark
Male Indigo Bunting, Springfield Bog Metropark

The bright yellow male American goldfinches are color complements to the iridescent blue male indigo buntings that feed in the same area, close to the parking lot.

Springfield Bog Metropark is open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm daily, and the parking lot, equipped with restrooms, is located at 1400 Portage Line Road. Akron, OH 44312, about 1.2 miles south of Rte. 224 in Springfield Township. The GPS location is 41.012604N – 81.393849W. Arrive early for scenic photography, preferably before sunrise so you can scout the area for attractive compositions and take advantage of any mist that may have formed during the night. A little later in the morning is usually optimal for bird photography, and later in the day butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects become active and attractive for photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I’m so glad captured the ‘star” dickcissel, so gorgeous!

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