Monday, July 12, 2010

Healing Day

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats are as numerous as I've ever observed at Pheasant Branch Conservancy; their witchity witchity witchity songs dominate the grassland. With worn plumage, the adult males don't look quite as exquisite as they did in spring, but this one wasn't as bedraggled as most I encountered during my stroll.

Rattlesnake Master

I think it would be interesting to experience the seasonal progression and transformation of a prairie from the perspective of a bird. When songbirds return in April and May, the grasses and plants are barely a foot tall; there are few places to hide and perch. But by the time juveniles fledge, it's a veritable micro-jungle; their habitat increases in size by depth. Birds take advantage of summer's growth by perching atop tall wildflowers (especially Compass Plant) when checking for danger or to hold territories.

Red-winged Blackbird


Carried by a gentle breeze, the fragrance of wildflowers is intoxicating. The fields are covered with Black-eyed Susan and Bergamot. Milkweed is doing exceptionally well this summer, which is good for the Monarchs. I like to inspect the plants carefully to see what might be hiding under a leaf. This time my efforts rendered this colorful Ailanthus Webworm Moth.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth

Taking a short break atop the drumlin, I draw in the panoramic scene overlooking the prairie and marsh. At least for one part of this nutty world, everything I can sense with my eyes and ears is as it should be. But then a lone Killdeer call reminds me of fall migration, what it may mean for birds that winter along the gulf and will be arriving soon. What we've done is heartbreaking and unforgivable, but I try to do my best to suppress despair and enjoy the good day that will help progress toward healing.

Song Sparrow

Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 7/10/10
Number of species: 49

Ring-necked Pheasant
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

© 2010 Mike McDowell

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