Sunday, June 10, 2018

This is Science

"To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall."

― Thomas Henry Huxley

Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis

As you can tell from several posts this spring, this matter between Dane County Parks, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Northlake Subdivision, and dogs has challenged my temperament. It's my intention to eventually let all of that go, because as long as Dane County Parks owns the prairie parcel, I don't think much is going to change. A quick glance at their Facebook page and you can see how dog-oriented they are when it comes to park activities. Educational nature field trips? Not so much. Though I'm grateful this tract of land wasn't turned into a housing subdivision, perhaps Dane County Parks wasn't the best entity to purchase it.

Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas

It's been fascinating to observe changes over the years as the habitat has improved, but I believe it will always fall short of its full potential so long as Dane County Parks allows dogs there. For many, this is probably good enough. At least there's a buy-in from having it used as a glorified dog park―the pet owners of Northlake have shown their tenacity for protecting their self-interests, thus it will probably never become a subdivision!

Large Beardtongue Penstemon grandiflorus

After the Bobolink field trip at Middleton Airport this morning, I led a small group of birders to the Henslow's Sparrows at Pheasant Branch. They began to sing within several minutes of our arrival. It was a life bird for some participants. Leading people to birds, telling them a little about their natural history, and adding my loopy sense of humor along with the effort is a gift I enjoy giving to people. When I see the source of this enjoyment degraded, I do take it very personally. Whether by barking, defecating, urinating, or flushing wildlife, dogs degrade habitat.

Eight-spotted Forester Alypia octomaculata

On sharing Nature, it's kind of like this blog, I suppose. I honestly don't know how long I'll keep it going, but a big part of the reason I do so is because I know many people enjoy looking at my photography. I don't throw out as much natural history here as I do during field trips, but I occasionally bring up the subject of citizen science. Collecting data, observing critters in the field, comparing and contrasting season to season, year to year, is a scientific endeavor. The thousands of hours I have spent doing this at Pheasant Branch since the late 1980s should count for something.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jun 9, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
61 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Great Blue
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Henslow's Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for trying to reason with them. It is a perfect place for a nature conservancy. Obviously they just want to make it another public park. I have seen lots of dogs off leash when I was walking in the prairie and the owners appear totally unconcerned. It is a waste of what could have been a great resource and not just a pretty park.