Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Birds!

Yesterday I was again reminded of the value for an amateur like me to go out birding with seasoned pros. I went on a public walk where apart from the two leaders I was the only guest. The walk was held by Jefferson/Dodge County Bird Walks and took in Zeloski Marsh. Only two years ago the marsh was a muck farm and the transformation since then has been spectacular. Right now there is a sea of flowers in bloom and the place is literally crawling with wildlife. As we walked along the old roads separating the impoundments at some times there were so many leopard frogs rocketing out of the grass at our feet I was afraid to put my foot down!

There were several birding highlights but for me the best were getting a really good look at my first Dickcissel and the opportunity to add the Great Horned Owl to my life list. When one of the guides pointed out the owl perching on a downed tree in the water my first thought was that it was a raccoon. It was huge! Flocks of Sandhill Cranes and a flyover by a flock of dozens of American White Pelicans were other particularly exciting moments.

The Dickcissel and Great Horned Owl brought my Life List count to 194! Back in December when I set my goal of 200 birds on the list by the end of 2008 I thought I was being somewhat ambitious. But with the assistance of the guides who have led the field trips I've joined I'm closer to that goal than I would have expected back then. Thanks, Brad and Nolan, for the tour of the marsh and also for your ongoing work in conservation and education!!

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