March 08, 2021

Pokagon State Park

This past weekend was spent in and around Pokagon State Park, in Steuben County, Indiana. Most of the wildlife I saw were year-round residents, but there was an anticipation in the air for the imminent Spring quickly approaching. At the nearby Marsh Lake, Sandhill Cranes were trumpeting the hills, and Canadian Geese seemed to be marching through the skies, in an early expedition to unclaimed breeding grounds. Red-winged Blackbirds were clinging to the tallest reeds they could find, serenading all the prospective females spectating from the safety of the underbrush. Overall, in every corner I looked, I could see preparations being made for another great cycle of life. Buds on every tree branch were beginning to appear, and even small wildflowers were pushing up bits of soil and leaf litter.

Outside of the park were several adjacent nature reserves that made for some quiet and peaceful hiking. I was able to study some evergreens that stood out among the bare bones of the hardwoods. I observed Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Red Pine, and a couple species of Spruce. It was during a short hike through one of these reserves that I heard a booming call in the air of two Barred Owls. It's hard to say what exactly they were talking about, but I like to imagine that he was calling back to his mate, just to make sure she is still safe and present in her nest, while he scours the forest floor for squirrels, mice, and voles for her, and possibly a few owlets.

Overall this trip was a much needed respite from weeks and months of staying indoors, looking at the cold, gray weather. The anticipation of Spring fills me with encouragement and energy, and I am looking forward to seeing the explosion of life during the next couple of months.

Posted on March 08, 2021 19:52 by csonafrank csonafrank | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 22, 2021

Audubon Climate Watch - February 2021

This year I participated in Audubon's relatively new citizen science project, Climate Watch. It is a nation-wide program in the U.S. coordinated and run by volunteers in all 50 states. I surveyed one 10x10 km grid that spanned northern Elkhart County, IN, and in Southern Cass County, MI. This was my first bird survey outside of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and my first survey in the Bird Conservation Region 13 -- Prairie Hardwood Transition.

The morning consisted of 12 five-minute surveys throughout the grid. It started out fantastic, with my first survey beginning at 7:36 am, and including two bald eagles flying directly overhead, and meandering along the St. Joseph River.

The rest of the surveys seemed to be productive, recording the target species of Eastern Bluebird, and White-breasted Nuthatch throughout the day. I was also pleasantly surprised by detecting a small flock of Common Redpoll, Cedar Waxwing, and several Mute Swans flying overhead.

I enjoyed getting out on a cold February morning and getting in some birds I wouldn't otherwise see, and explore some very interesting places. I am very much looking forward to volunteering again when the Climate Watch resumes this Summer in May and June.

Posted on February 22, 2021 17:56 by csonafrank csonafrank | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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