Monday, June 8, 2009

the Wilds birding weekend wrap-up

This will be my last post (I think) about my weekend of Birding by Ear at the Wilds. I cannot say enough good things about this place. If you live in Ohio, or if you are ever passing through, please consider visiting the Wilds. You certainly will not regret it. The staff there are great and are passionate about the land and animals there. I guarantee you will learn a lot if you go.

A Carolina Wren built her nest in this little bucket that was inside the dining/meeting yurt at the education camp.

While 90% of the weekend was spent concentrating on birds, there were plenty of other things to see while we were there. All kinds of wildflowers abound (including invasive species like Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose and Phragmites). I got photos of a handful of them.

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Umm... I'm afraid I don't know this one, but it certainly looks to be a member of the Pea family.

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculata)

Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta)

Yum... the wood sorrel leaves taste like Granny Smith apples!

Our trip leaders for the weekend, Jim McCormac and Al Parker, were absolute fountains of knowledge, not just about birds, but also in regards to just about any other natural thing we saw around us. Someone spotted this snapping turtle alongside the road, and the bus had to be stopped to it could be annoyed... um, investigated. That's Al holding the happy snapper.

During the last hour or so of our weekend at the Wilds, the birding kind of went downhill and it turned into a natural history free-for-all where we started looking at anything that moved. It was at this point that I realized how "good" Jim had been at containing himself during the rest of the weekend. You see, even though Jim's really good with the bird thing, he's really a botanist... who also happens to like dragonflies and butterflies and moths and frogs and... you get the picture. He's self-proclaimed ADD when he's outside, and jumps from one thing to the next rapidly. I'm not complaining, mind you... it's just hard to keep up sometimes!

unidentified captured frog

Okay, this is where things start getting really fuzzy for me. Birds and flowers I'm pretty good with, butterflies and other insects... not so much. I have some ID guides, but I'm only just getting into these things, so don't quote me on any of these IDs.

a skipper of some sort, maybe Silver-Spotted Skipper

Great Spangled Fritillary on clover (I'm pretty sure about this one)

? Perhaps a female Common Whitetail or female Twelve-Spotted Skimmer ? (why did I not take notes?!)

This is a Bluet of some sort, of that much I am sure. I remember the term Bluet being tossed about and I was confused, because I didn't see any Bluet flowers around. Then I realized it must be the damselfly on the leaf. This might be a Familiar Bluet.

I didn't have the lens I usually use for close-up work on my camera, so I had to make do with my longer zoom lens. This made getting the kind of close-ups I would prefer not really possible. But you get the idea.

And finally, I leave you with yours truly, pictured with "my" Grasshopper Sparrow.

Photo courtesy Jim McCormac


NW Nature Nut said...

Great post...a little bit of everything I love: flowers, birds, bugs! I am starting to see some good garden bees and damselflies lately and just picked up a new dragonfly/damselfly book that is specific to this area. It should help...those guys are a challenge! You saw some beautiful butterflies, we just don't get enough here.

Kelly said...

...great the flowers and the Bluet. I'm definitely have to make it up there, if just to see a Grasshopper Sparrow! How awesome to hold one!! What did that feel like?

Heather said...

Michele - Ah, glad this post was appealing to you across the board. Yes, the dragons and damsels are definitely a challenge! We have a plethora of butterfly species in Ohio, and I look forward to starting to learn those.

Kelly - Thanks. And hey, whatever it takes to get you to the Wilds, but I can't guarantee that the tour guides will be pointing out grassland birds to you. Take your bins and your camera!
As to holding the bird, it was such a fleeting experience that I didn't have enough time to really take it all in, but the bird was pretty calm, and I got to touch its head, back and tummy, and it really didn't seem too bothered by it. That was the most amazing thing, I suppose - that its being handled by humans didn't seem to bother it all. From what I've been told, though, sparrows are the more docile of birds to have in the hand - I seriously doubt that a Cardinal would have been so forgiving (or allowing) of my affections.

Tom said...

Not a silver spotted skipper, much bigger and browner, perhaps a peck's.

The frog looks like a pickerel frog to me, but it also could be a leopard frog.

And your last damselfly looks like a violet dancer.


Heather said...

Tom - See, I told you I'm no good with these bug IDs! As to the frog, folks said they were hearing pickerel frogs, but once it was caught, they said that's not what it was. I heard leopard frog mentioned. Jim may be able to sort it all out, since he was there to observe them. Thanks for your input!

Jim McCormac said...

Hey Heather,

Great photos! And I can't place that pea with the purple flowers... If it comes to me I'll let you know. As for the other unidentified or tentative stuff, here goes, in the order in which they appear (at least I am pretty sure!):

Pickerel Frog

Hobomok Skipper

Great Spangled Fritillary - Absolutely

Common Whitetail - immature male

Azure Bluet

Familar Bluet

Violet Dancer

Keep up the good work!


Heather said...

Jim - I knew you'd come through, thanks for the help! At least I got my flowers right!
If it's of any help at all, that purple pea-looking flower was growing up at the Outlook where we had breakfast, in a planter that included the Penstemon.

RuthieJ said...

Wow Heather, what a great trip that must have been. Thanks for sharing it with us.
How did you get that sparrow to sit on your hand??

Heather said...

Ruthie - It was a great trip, indeed, really glad I went. The sparrow was passed over to me by a fellow who had caught him in a mist net - I held on to him by his little birdy legs.