Monday, April 26, 2010

Locust Ravine rocks!

Before leaving home for Lake Park this afternoon, I FINALLY saw my first Blue Jay of the year fly over the yard making the typical Blue Jay racket. Hey, if you had structural blue coloring, you'd make a racket too. Plus, have you ever heard them mimic a Red-tailed Hawk? Dead ringer.

At the end of two hours combing through Lake Park's Locust Ravine (long after Tim and Maria had departed) I was lucky enough to find the American Bittern that Sam discovered yesterday. What a beautiful bird! She was doing her absolute best to look like a stump (above), and for the multiple groups of kids that walked past her without noticing, she may as well have been. It's always so strange to see bitterns in the utterly wrong habitat during migration. Who could forget the Least Bittern that was perched 40 feet up in a tree at Riverside Park a couple of years ago? These are the best looks I've had at these secretive denizens of the marsh. I hope this bird got enough rest and refueling (what was she eating in this ravine?) because the last I saw of her after she was flushed by a man and his dog, she was leaving Lake Park headed to the southwest. Maybe she'll spend a few days along the Milwaukee River Greenway.

The ravine was exceptionally birdy tonight, producing four new Bigby birds in addition to the bittern (Red-headed Woodpecker, Field Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Eastern Towhee). I do love to see the Red-headed Woodpeckers return to Lake Park each year. If more local parks and small woodlot owners would leave snags standing rather than compulsively cutting down each and every "hazard tree," this declining species of savannas would be in better shape. As it is, it was one of four Species of Greatest Conservation Need (along with American Bittern, Field Sparrow, and Brown Thrasher) in Locust Ravine tonight--once again highlighting the importance of migratory bird stopover habitat in an urban landscape. If only there was a Citizen Science research project that was examining the importance of such sites to migratory birds...


momlyn said...

great photos O! Now that we're official citizen scientists maybe we should move to Milwaukee :)

Owen said...

Oh yeah--Tim will put you to work at the Urban Ecology Center!!