Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Morning Nature Hike-Part 1

Since warblers are still migrating and gas went up to $3.69 last week, I decided to try birding within walking distance of my home (no danger of speeding tickets either!) My neighbor Jack (who lives up at the end of our subdivision) still owns at least 40 acres of property--a lot of which is wooded. I called him on the phone last night to get permission to cross his fence and do some birding, and of course, he graciously said yes. When Mr. Johnson was out for his morning walk, he met up with Jack and they talked a little bit out Jack's wooded acres and a few things Jack wanted Mr. Johnson to tell me to keep an eye open for: a pair of red-headed woodpeckers, a pair of pileated woodpeckers and possibly a wolf! Wow, is that possible? Apparently the DNR has documented the presence of a couple of wolves in that area. On my morning hike today, I saw only 1 pileated woodpecker and no evidence of anything that looked like wolf tracks, but that will be something to keep my eyes open for next time.

So anyway, I didn't get started until about 8:45 and my first destination was the little pond I've shown you in a couple of earlier posts. The developer has resumed road construction activities that will eventually turn this wooded area into another housing subdivision, so the dynamics of this natural area will be changing over the next couple years, but for now, it's still fairly wild--especially down at the end adjoining Jack's wooded acreage.

This little pond is for stormwater runoff. I didn't see any wildlife as I approached the pond, but there were frogs singing and jumping into the water as I approached.

Once I got close to the water, I could see there were millions of tadpoles swimming around in there. See all the black stuff in the water on this picture? Those are tadpoles! I've never seen so many in my life!

Unlike the frogs, the tadpoles weren't bothered by my presence and I managed to capture this little video of them.

We had a little rain shower late last night, so the dirt around the pond edge was still nice and soft and I could see lots of footprints from previous visitors. Here's a perfect little raccoon "handprint."

I also saw this very tiny deer hoofprint. I asked Mr. Johnson if baby deer were being born yet and he didn't think so, he said this tiny hoofprint was probably from one of last year's does (a yearling who was still pretty small).

A couple of cautious frogs allowed me to snap a picture of them.

While I was walking around the pond, I saw lots of little birds flying around the edge of the woods and in the tall weed stems around the pond. These birds included House Wren, Yellow Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, American Goldfinch, American Redstart, Eastern Phoebe and Indigo Bunting.

I finally moved on from the pond and over to the gate that would let me into the woods. Tune in next time as I take you down this wooded trail for Part 2 of the Saturday Morning Nature Hike.


Lynne said...

Your tadpole video mad me chuckle. Those little guys are busy-busy-busy! I didn't think there were wolves in the southern part of Minnesota. I assume it means the wolf population is doing well. That looks like a beautiful wooded area- can't wait to hear more!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking us all along on the nature hike. The birds singing is all the music you need, no i-pod needed. I was thrilled to see frogs and tadpoles in the pond, could you hear them too? That private woods is just the place to be on a warm spring day.
It is hard to imagine that wolves could be there too, I would like to see a wolf in the wild, from a distance of course, yes I could sit still and be quiet[hard to believe I know]. I can hardly wait for the next adventure in the wild, even if it is close to your home. What a good time I had, I looked at this blog 3 times before I wrote to you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The frogs are a so funny to see peeking out of the water. Too bad there will be a subdivison in the wooded area. This has happened in our neighborhood too. It wasn't a wooded area but an orchard. We had lots of birds in there including Grasshopper Sparrow that is in trouble here in IN for lack of habitat.

Wouldn't that be amazing if you even see a wolf paw print?? I would be very excited to see one.

Jayne said...

What a beautiful place Ruthie. Love seeing all those busy tadpoles! Especially love that last photo of the lush grass in the trees.

Mary said...


That's a good hot spot. The frog photo is funny - glad you didn't see wolves! I'm looking forward to seeing Part II.

By the way, I paid 3.799 for regular unleaded gas this week :o/

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lynne,
I think I'm going to take a jar over to the pond and see if I can catch some tadpoles for my little goldfish pond. I could have spent hours sitting there, watching them swim around.
I'm skeptical about the wolf story and will have to do some further checking into it....

Hi Mom,
I thought of you the whole time I was out there and how much you would have enjoyed the walk if you were still able to go. I went slow and stopped alot -- so many things to see and hear. It was really nice.

Hi Lisa,
I'm sorry to see this wooded area being torn apart for houses. I think there are plenty of houses for sale in Rochester without having to put up more new ones and destroy habitat that can never be replaced. I'm thankful that Neighbor Jack is keeping his woods and property intact so the wildlife still has places to go.

Hi Jayne,
I'm glad you enjoyed it. You're in a somewhat rural area too, aren't you? Yesterday was especially nice because it was too cool yet for any annoying bugs to be out--a perfect morning!

Hi Mare,
Those frogs are a riot (although I've never seen any frog porn like at your pond).
OUCH on your gas!! "The experts" predict $4.00 by Memorial Day, so I guess the stations will be posting that price since somebody has already predicted it. Maybe I'll lose some weight this summer since it looks like I'll be walking to more birding adventures ;-)

Mel said...

What a beautiful day!
I've walked with you :)
I'm just sorry that I couldn't see the birds and beauty you got to observe.
GREAT post!

Anonymous said...

I loved those buggey-eyed frogs, since "Kermit" is my favorite stuffed animal. It is always such a hard time to see frogs, they like to look at us but don't try to see or take pics of them. I think they are way cool.

Marsha said...

What a beautiful place to hike and so close to home too! Tadpole video is cute!

Anonymous said...

That looks like a really nice hike. I'm just glad the wolves are not being persecuted there to the point of disappearing.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Mel....I only wish you had actually been there in person, we would have had a great time!

Hi Mom,
I think those frogs are pretty cool too. Wonder if I can raise any in my little pond this year?

Thanks sure to check back for Part 2!

Hi Scienceguy,
I'm not sure how the wolves are able to survive here--so much traffic and people don't watch out for wildlife; also many farms with livestock in the area--they already have issues with coyotes and I can't imagine any of them tolerating wolves any better.

Anonymous said...

In the food chain, wolves chase down coyotes and eat them, so you trade one for another. Wolves have been sighted in and around our area for a couple of years now. Several people have caught glances of them.