Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Wonderful Day on the Prairie

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be spending Wednesday up by Fergus Falls, MN and did I have a good time! While my students were competing in the state Envirothon, I got to explore the Prairie Wetland Learning Center which is restored prairie pothole habitat. What a beautiful place to bird! We couldn't have asked for better weather and in the 2.5 hours I was exploring I ran into some things I don't usually see around the local area.

The most amazing find was the number of Clay-colored Sparrows (Spizella pallida) in the prairie. I also got great close-up looks at male Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivours) as they fought over territory. I ran into a few surprises too. There was only one small grove of oaks on the property but it held some good birds. Yellow-rumped Warblers (Dendroica coronata) were everywhere. Much of their foraging was in the cattails. Another surprise was the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) and pair of Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensus) that were hanging out in the small shrubs along the edge of one of the potholes.

If anyone ever has the chance to visit this beautiful place I would highly recommend it. The trail design is excellent and if there are any teachers reading this, it would be a great place to take kids for a long weekend field experience. They have dorms and kitchen facilities available.

This weekend is traditionally the peak of the migration season. We'll see if that's true. Mark and I will be banding both days. Saturday at Carver Park reserve in Victoria, MN and Sunday at Ritter Farm Park in Lakeville, MN during their first annual bird festival. If anyone comes out, please stop by and say hello.

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