It wasn't for lack of trying, that's for sure. We made many stops on roads close to the Wilds (roads that are actually on land owned by American Electric Power), and searched and searched, but we just didn't see much bird action at all. We did spot a Horned Lark (quite a few, actually), which was a life bird for me. I did a little boogie for it.
This guy. He's awesome. I tell him, "so we're gonna have to leave at, like, 6 a.m. to get there on time." "Okay," he says. Look at him in his Midwest Bird Symposium hat and Bird Watcher's Digest binocular harness. I'm so glad he came to the Wilds to go birding with me!
There were lots of spotting scopes around yesterday, a necessary tool of the trade. Especially when trying to pin down a bird that's somewhere out in the middle of huge expanses of grassland and hills like this...
Before lunch, our group saw Horned Lark, American Kestrel, Eastern Bluebird, European Starling, Blue Jay, Trumpeter Swan, Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph) (AND lifer!), Red-tailed Hawk, and Downy Woodpecker. Folks were hoping for more raptors, but there just wasn't much activity.
What're y'all lookin' at?
There are lots of lakes of varying sizes around the Wilds, but there seemed to be only one that had some unfrozen water, and of course that's where all the waterfowl went. Accordingly, all the scopes were lined up after lunch to observe said water and waterfowl. I could only identify the Canada Geese and Trumpter Swans. Even through a scope, they were still pretty far away, so it was difficult for me to know what else I was seeing (this girl's no good with her waterfowl ID!). I heard folks say there were Ruddy Ducks, Ring-neck Ducks, some kind of Merganser, Mallards, and perhaps a Green-winged Teal.
Oh look, I managed to get photos of some birds! Two Trumpeter Swans, and if you notice the road behind them, there are some Canada Geese to the right of that road. I know... booooring.
Aside from seeing birds, we were able to get some good views of several of the species of mammals that are managed by the Wilds, including a meeting with a very special southern white rhino. Here's a sneak peek: