Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prairie Walking

Yesterday morning we managed to get up and out of the house to join the local Audubon Society and Prairie Enthusiasts members for a field trip in the Thomson Memorial Prairie. Guided by a member of The Nature Conservancy and the grassland birds specialist with the state's Department of Natural Resources twenty-one of us waded through grasses wet and dry in search of birds. The real stars of the visit were the bobolinks. Several of them flew around us putting on an interesting show with their distinctive song and flight patterns. I had thought this was a new species for my life list but on returning home I found I had seen it before. I don't recall when and where. No worries, though. The grasshopper and savannah sparrows we saw became numbers 191 and 192 on the list. We also saw one or two dickcissels but the light was from a bad direction to really see them so I'm holding off counting this one.

At the end of the hike one of the guides mentioned that the wood lilies, Lilium philadelphicum were blooming in another nearby prairie. So we left Thomson and headed out for that particular designated state natural area. Along the way we got a closeup look at a pair of sandhill cranes just walking off the road chased by an angry red-winged blackbird. At this second prairie bird life was pretty sparse but the lilies more than made the trip worth it.

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