Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Eastern Shore is a land of coastal wetlands and seashores, diverse wildlife, and seasons that bring character to its golden marshes and wide open bays, perfumed piney woodlands, and sandy coastal beaches. Come capture images of pristine field sites throughout the Delmarva Peninsula and learn from our expert instructors. Small class sizes allow for one-on-one instruction in the field creating a truly unique experience. Housing provided on site. Instructors include NANPA members Jim Clark, Nikhil Bahl, Brian Zwit, and Jamie Konarski Davidson, along with Michael Traubel. Held in Wallops Island, VA.
Story and photographs by Jim Clark
In an earlier column I gave praise to the seaside sparrow, a species common to the salt marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but rarely sought after by nature photographers. This column is on one of my all-time favorite songsters: Cistothorus plaustris, the marsh wren, a denizen of freshwater and tidal brackish marshes with robust stands of bulrush, cattail and cordgrass.
The marsh wren is every bit as inconspicuous as the seaside sparrow, but two qualities make it stand out. It is curious as all get-out, and it loves to sing.
Marsh wrens have to figure you out, and they will approach as near as arm’s length to do so. Even when you can’t see them, they are likely watching you; sometimes closer than you think.
The other giveaway is its song. Once you hear the marsh wren’s bubbling repertoire of chattering melodies, you will have little trouble recognizing it on future ventures into its wetland domain. A marsh is not a marsh without the wren’s enthusiastic and rapid chatter resonating throughout the tidal landscape. And this little feathered ball of dynamism not only sings during the day, but also at all hours of the night. Continue reading