When we were up at Lake Erie over the summer, Russell and I took a long walk through the beautiful Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve. Located in Erie County, the 465-acre Preserve contains some of the last undisturbed stretches of natural Lake Erie shoreline.
Strolling through the Preserve gives you a good sense of the sprawling wetlands and lake-marsh-forest ecosystems that used to be found everywhere along Lake Erie’s shores. Starting from the lake itself and heading inland, you walk past barrier beaches, swamps filled with cattails, woodland marshes, hardwood forests, and “old fields.” The ecosystems gradually change from one to the next, each marked by their own mix of flora and fauna.
The Preserve is home to hundreds of different species of birds and different kinds of wildflowers. Among the birds that call the Preserve home are herons, red-tailed hawks, wood ducks, terns, woodcocks, and numerous songbirds.
Russell and I particularly enjoyed watching the white herons at the Preserve, absolutely motionless on their perches and patiently scanning the water, looking for a meal. We also were fascinated by a water plant with broad green leaves and a single, fist-like bud that grew on a thin stalk and then opened into a bright white flower. These curious plants grew in profusion on the edge between the swamp and the marshland.
The Preserve is free and is found along U.S. 6, just west of Huron. Autumn is supposed to be a good time to visit, particularly if you like bird-watching, because the Preserve is a favorite spot for migrating birds. It’s well worth a visit.