Aaron and Graham, students from UW-Madison, are conducting a bird and reptile habitat assessment on the Farm this summer. Early each morning, they observe birds at various points around the Farm; the inventory they're creating will help us understand what birds are using our property and how we can further enhance the habitat here. An absolute novice, I was curious about their work so on Tuesday morning joined them in the field. Here's how it all went down:
5 AM – My alarm goes off. Snooze!
5:47 AM – I've made it to the Farm and eat a quick breakfast while the Keurig brews a hot cup of joe.
6:22 AM – Where are these dudes?? We were supposed to meet at 6 but I don't mind waiting. It's a beautiful morning on the Farm. Mist is rising off 4 Winds Pond and the bullfrogs are shouting to one another.
|4 Winds Pond, 6 AM - a little piece of heaven.|
6:28 AM – Graham and Aaron arrive, offer me some binoculars and talk about the morning's agenda. They have hit the majority of the 80-some observation points plotted around the farm. I bought new rubber boots last night and am anxious to get them dirty and wet, so I request some points that are in the marsh. Request denied - they hit all those points the day before.
|Graham and Aaron at our first stop of the day.|
7:03 AM: We spy a cedar waxwing. As a novice I probably shouldn't be declaring favorites, but this bird might be it. I love the look of its smooth ("waxed") feathers and the combover!
|Cedar waxwing (left) and black-billed cuckoo.|
7:29 AM: My brain works funny sometimes… this morning happens to be one of those times. I hear Graham mention the "Willow Flycatcher" and a few minutes later, I ask him about the "Yellow Anteater." Flycatcher, anteater... willow, yellow. Almost the same thing?
8:13 AM: Near Corn Pond now, finished with the 10 minutes of observation when we notice a flurry of yellow. I go check it out because at this point, I'm nearly an expert right? I get a good look at the bird and am blown away by the vibrancy of its plumage! Graham gets a peek at it before it flies away and thinks it is a prothonotary warbler. But why such a complicated name for such a sweet little bird?
8:48 AM: We spot a
beautiful male bluebird. He is hanging out in some spruce, flying around
looking proud. His colors are so vibrant, it's almost startling. Nature is so cool!
10:01 AM: It's getting hot; my new boots are sweat machines. The bugs are eating me alive. And I just dropped my phone in goose poop. Time for me to call my stint as a bird observation intern over and out.
Thanks Graham and Aaron for letting me tag along and for all the great work you're doing here!