Sunday, June 10, 2007

Saturday Morning Bird Hike

I filled my big insulated travel mug with coffee and headed down to pick up my sissy at 6:45 on Saturday morning, so we could get to Forestville State Park by 7:30, and still squeeze in a stop at Kwik Trip for carb- & calorie-laden breakfast treats.

We got out of our car in the parking lot at exactly 7:30 and our leader Alex had to ask if we were there for the bird hike. Now I ask you, do we not look like birders?

While waiting for a few more people to arrive, we got some good looks at an Eastern Phoebe who was perched in a big walnut tree right at the edge of the parking lot.

The weather was perfect and there was just enough breeze to keep it from being too hot. We finally took off on the hike with the woods on our right and a large (probably 10 acres) grassy field on our left. Shortly into the walk, we heard and finally spotted a Blue-Winged Warbler. If I actually kept a life list, this warbler would have been added to it. Alex also pointed out the call of a cuckoo from across the grassy field. Wow, I was hoping it would still be there when we got over to that side.

We saw quite a few indigo buntings (even a pair together). We saw a Cooper's Hawk perched at the top of a tree and a bunch of little goldfinches who flew to the next tree and almost seemed to be taunting the hawk. The hawk ignored them. We saw common yellowthroats, song sparrows, and catbirds.

When we finally got to the other side of the trail, we finally saw not one, but two, of the Yellow-Billed Cuckoos! WOW! Another bird for my life list. According to my Kaufman field guide, they are summer visitors to only about the lowest 3 counties in southeastern Minnesota. One of the other hikers had a digital camera with a big lens and he took some pictures. I gave him my e-mail address, so when I get the pix from him, I'll share them with you.

This was a really fun hike. There were only 9 people in the group, but Alex was an awesome leader. He was so knowledgeable about the birds, their calls, and their preferred habitats, and he was really young! (I'm guessing mid-20's). It was really neat for me to meet someone who was totally into birds.

Forestville is such a great place to go birding and only about 45 minutes from my place. Alex told us that Cerulean Warblers had also been seen there this spring and he had heard there was a nesting pair in another part of the park. I really need to get back there next Saturday morning and try to get a look at them. (NOTE TO SELF: next time either take a smaller coffee mug, or don't wander so far from the restrooms)

After shopping at the park gift store (come on, doesn't everyone shop after a bird hike?), I took my sister home the "roundabout way" on some rural roads where I have previously seen Dickcissels and Bobolinks. Thankfully, we weren't disappointed and the birds were there. Here's a picture of a cooperative mail Bobolink on a fencepost.

We came around another corner and had our best sighting of the day....a whole pasture full of mama and baby goats (plus a llama thrown for variety). They were sooooo cute. I could've spent hours watching these critters, because I'm just nuts about goats.

Here are some of my favorites:

This one has a brown head and a brown tip on her tail.

This one looks like she's wearing brown underpants.

Here's one of the babies.

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If you would still like to participate in sharing your favorite piece of art with me to post in my blog, please don't forget to send me pictures and the story of why it's your favorite. For more details, please click on this link. You can send your pictures and stories through next Saturday (June 16). Thanks so much.


Mary said...

That goat with the brown pants on made me crack up and it's only 5:50 a.m.!

I'm glad you had a nice outing with a young guy with lots of energy. You saw birds that would be lifers for me.

You are making me want to get with a group but I don't have binoc that I like.

RuthieJ said...

Goats are so funny without trying to be...I guess that's why I like them.

Mary, being so new to bird hikes, I would recommend them to anyone else. On our hike there were several people who were new to birding and going with a group. If you have a good leader, he/she will take time to make sure everyone sees the birds. No one on this hike minded waiting for everyone to get to see the birds. Another good thing about this hike was the leader had extra binocs to loan for those who needed or wanted them. If you decide to go with a group, find out if they supply binocs. (Your local WBU store might have them on special for Father's Day right now also, at least our store does.)

Jayne said...

What a fun day with your sissy! (I call my sister sissy as well.) I will have to get my favorite art to you later today Ruthie. Great idea!

mon@rch said...

LOL at the goats! Just love hearing the bobolinks!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
Your art and story were in my e-mail box when I got home. Thanks much!

Hi Tom,
I love hearing the bobolinks too. We usually have to travel a bit to find some good grasslands, but it's definitely worth it.

Body Soul Spirit said...

I love the goats. I do like chevre, but not goat meat. I wish there was a smart young birding leader in this area ;-)

nina said...

Yes, you two definitely looked like birders. I get that comment, too--binocs around the neck :"looking for birds?" "Nope, just really bad eyes."
I enjoy your site and all you've done with your property to make it natural. We're working at our "sanctuary", too.
We have pygmy goats--those look like Boer (?) goats--but, cute, nonetheless!

Lynne said...

HA! Brown underpants! Just got home from the night shift and I giggled big time over that one! We camped Forrestville a few years ago and loved it. Glad you had such a nice time.