Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baxter's and Spring Green

Otter Creek at Baxter's Hollow

Sylvia, Dottie, Mark, and I visited two TNC natural areas yesterday – Baxter's Hollow and Spring Green Prairie; two of my favorite places for taking in and documenting nature's gifts. Superbly regal Scarlet Tanagers were found at both locations and seemed like the bird du jour; full songs and "chick-burr" calls were heard throughout the morning most everywhere we went.

Scarlet Tanager

Otter Creek

It was a very windy day. At Baxter's Hollow we had to rely on identifying birds by their vocalizations because many were in the woods across Otter Creek. The road that runs parallel to the creek hasn't been repaired since last year's flooding and was severely damaged at several locations. In one way this was beneficial because no cars could go beyond the first bridge where we parked.

Wild Columbine

Since there were so few opportunities to digiscope birds, I directed my photographic interests toward the color on ground. There were various wildflowers in bloom, like Wild Columbine, Common Buttercup, and Wild Strawberry. As I snapped away, I heard the songs of Winter Wrens, Louisiana Waterthrush, American Redstarts, Veery, Acadian Flycatchers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Indigo Buntings.

Wild Strawberry

Common Buttercup

Because it was so windy, we questioned whether or not to continue on with our plan to visit Spring Green Prairie. After some debate, we decided to go for it. Once there, the birds were concentrated in the wooded barrens. Over the grassland, there were lots of wildflowers, including Dwarf Dandelion, Blue-eyed Grass, Bird's-Foot Violet, and Puccoon.

Bird's-Foot Violet


Birds were around, but mostly on the wing at full speed because of the wind. We saw Lark Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparow, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebirds, and more. In the relative calm of the barrens we were treated to a singing Orchard Oriole.

Dwarf Dandelion

After a solid day of exploration and appreciation of nature, we went to The Spring Green General Store and treated ourselves to a bite to eat - I enjoyed a very tasty Greek Salad. If you're ever in Spring Green, check it out – the place has charm and character. We finished with around 80 bird species for the day. It was a very relaxing way to spend a day in mid May, but making it even more special was sharing it moment by moment with kindred spirits.

Woodland Phlox

Dear morning
you come
with so many angels of mercy
so wondrously disguised
in feathers, in leaves,
in the tongues of stones,
in the restless waters,
in the creep and the click
and the rustle
that greet me wherever I go
with their joyful cry: I'm still here, alive!

- Mary Oliver, from the poem Then Bluebird Sang

Blue-eyed Grass

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell

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