Field Work

It was Tuesday…time for another Tuesday Morning Walk!  This week Gary was meeting the group out in a field near Waterloo to look for grassland bird species.

It was a lovely morning, although, as you can tell by what everyone was wearing, it was a little breezy.  Pleasantly cool for the time of the year.

The wild lupine were all in bloom – such wonderful plants to see outside a garden.

This field was once part of a farm, as was easily witnessed by farm remnants.

Because it was once farmed, there were plenty of non-native plants around, like this goatsbeard.  Still, it is a cheerful flower.

One of the big targets of the day was the Henslow’s sparrow.  A grassland bird whose population is in decline, this is an area where many birders come to seek this bird.  See that spot on the side of the tall grass in the middle of the photo?  That’s it.

Thanks go Gary’s spotting scope and good binoculars, we all got much better views of it than that, though.  I took to stalking a couple of them in hopes of getting a good shot.  These birds like to hide down in the grasses, from which they will call.  So, you’ll often hear them, but not see them.  We were very lucky because several popped up to sing from taller perches.

You can watch a video I took of the Henslow’s here.

From the field the “trail” eased down a slope toward a wetland.

We saw a couple Baltimore checkerspot butterflies.

The golden alexaders were in bloom.

And at the “swamp” we had another target species…

…not the showy tick trefoil…

…but the swamp sparrow!  This was a second life bird for me today.

The swamp sparrow can be distinguished by its rufus-colored back and wings.

After everyone had watched the sparrow and moved on, I was busy fussing with my camera when I noticed what looked like a glob of bird poop on a piece of grass.  “That must be something,” I thought, and upon further inspection it turned out to be a moth at rest in the cool morning air!

It looks like it has no head, but it is just tucked in.  Isn’t this a beautiful insect?  This is a pearly wood nymph (Eudryas unio) – the name is a beautiful as the moth!

A short distance later the trail crossed a stream via a couple of boards.

And then it entered the woods.  Hm.  This was starting to look familiar.  I turned around and looked back at the stream.  Things look a bit different in December than they do in June.  We had come this way (from the woods toward the swamp) on the Christmas Bird Count!

I was not feeling well, a 12-hour flu it seems, so I turned around and headed back to the cars while the rest of the group went in search of red-headed woodpeckers.  On my way out I watched a pair of bluebirds sunbathing on some “rustic” nest boxes.

I had come out on this walk in hopes of seeing bobolinks – a bird I really like and have only seen once (when working in VT).  I didn’t see any bobolinks, but I did get to add the two sparrows to my life list, so the morning was a success.

Are rare birds in your future?  Come join us for a walk some Tuesday morning – you just might end up buying everyone ice cream!


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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One Response to Field Work

  1. Hurray for finding the life birds. But about that flu . . . . You better get checked for Lyme Disease, since the first symptom is feeling ill as if you had flu.

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