Ripples 7/11/24

By Kennedy Zittel, naturalist

When I arrived to the Nature Center this past Tuesday, I opened my car door and the songs of birds filled the air, an excellent day for a bird survey.

photo of downy woodpecker on branchI decided to walk Cattail Trail, a quick walk to beat the upcoming summer heat that day. At the beginning of the trail, I heard the songs of an Eastern bluebird, Indigo bunting, and Veery, what an exciting start to the survey! I stopped to watch dozens of green and leopard frog tadpoles swim around the edges of the pond. I smiled as I passed by the pile of pond dipping nets, thinking about how excited the children would be to see all of those tadpoles during the pond dipping program later than morning. 

I walked past some shrubs that were bursting with berries when the leaves began to rustle. I stopped in time to witness two cedar waxwings enjoying a berry-filled breakfast. Amongst the berry-filled shrubs were a handful of robins and catbirds too – calling out to one another about how delicious their breakfast was, I am sure. 

I stopped to listen to a far-off call, the unmistakable call of the Red-eyed vireo came from the nearby forest. A flash of brown below the boardwalk caught my attention, a Song sparrow hopped from one clump of grass to the next.

Entering the alder thicket offered even more bird calls and sightings. I saw yellow flashes of common yellowthroats, yellow warblers, and goldfinches as they bounced branch- to- branch. A group of grackles flew overhead, squawking at one another as they searched for a place to land. A downy woodpecker perched atop a dead alder tree, surveying the marsh as I was. 

I continued down the boardwalk, glancing up at the row of Mourning doves on the telephone wire soaking up the increasingly hot sunshine. I passed by mink and raccoon scat, signs that birds weren’t the only animals enjoying this trail. Two Barn swallows darted through the air, catching insects with each swoop. 

The open marsh changed to dense cattails, where the loud calls of Red-winged blackbirds and Swamp sparrows echoed through the marsh. While I used my binoculars to watch the Osprey sitting on the river nest platform, I heard a crow call off in the distance. The cattails swished back and forth in the breeze, and I continued on towards the end of the trail.

The end of the boardwalk was full of River otter scat, humans aren’t the only ones that like to use the kayak launch to slide into the water. The bubbly song of the Marsh wrens rang out from the cattails – such a loud song from such a tiny little bird! Two geese honked while paddling away towards the West Twin River. Glancing down at the water I watched little fish swim by while I listened to the sound of green frogs croaking and hopping into the water.

I ended my survey. I spent only 20 minutes out on the trail, yet I saw a total of 21 different bird species, 2 amphibians, signs of 3 mammals, some fish, and dozens of different plants. What a great way to start the day!

photo of Downy woodpecker by Kennedy Zittel


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