Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saddle up For Saddle Creek!

Yesterday I got it in my head that one thing I could do to help my wife be able to sleep in on a Saturday was to take our two kids in elementary school (3rd grade and kindergarden) out for a lil birding while she and my youngest slept.  For a plan, it mostly worked out! She at least didn't have to get out of bed until after we left. Lil' Sister was very anxious about not seeing her big sisters when she got up though.
#1 and #2 are neophytes in the realm of birding, and I expect that mainly they do such things with me because they get to do such things with me, but we do enjoy birding together every now and again. Our last trip was a success, but that was back in spring, and the migration is once again upon us!
Today was their first trip out to Saddle Creek for birding. We've been fishing out there a couple of times, but never birding. I haven't been birding out there since #2 was born. I thought the Audubon Field trips were every weekend out there, but I guess they changed it up some, no matter. We were late getting out the door anyway, and the weather was too nice for migrants.
We began birding as soon as we turned from Memorial and passed the bait shack. Right away we had a whole group of rough looking molting Boat tailed grackles. The girls thought they were funny looking. Driving along we noted several other birds, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Common Moorhen, and even a Belted Kingfisher on a powerline. My oldest was especially impressed by it. Kingfisher's got some style, I'll give him that! The moorhen had some mostly grown chicks with her, and that produced the expected "Awwwwwwwww"'s too.
After parking, we began a brief excusion. I was planning on being out there for not more than an hour and a half, and we wound up walking for about forty minutes. I let the girls set the pace, and while trying to direct their wandering, let them roam about chasing butterflies on the morning dewed grass. We had to climb up the observation hill, and go through the brush tunnel. They enjoyed that. I kept hearing an ovenbird, and when we got to where it was I pished at it for a little bit. Out popped the Ovenbird, a northern cardinal, scads of Blue-gray gnatcatchers, and a rough looking northern Parula. While looking around, a gent came by in search of moths. I'm not certain, but I think it was Tom Palmer of Lakeland Ledger fame, I'm shooting him an email, update to follow. (EDIT: Sure was Tom Palmer, I hope he found some cool moths!) We walked back to the car, found some racoon tracks, and followed them some. Then we birded our way back to memorial. Got out of the car down one of the fishing spurs that heads off into the old mine pits, and noted some squirrel tracks. Then it was back to home, and snacks!
Lil' Sister was mad at us, but she calmed down.
The List:
White Ibis
Boat Tail Grackle
Great Blue Heron
American Anhinga
Belted Kingfisher
Common Moorhen
Great Egret
Loggerheaded Shrike
Mourning Dove
Fish Crow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Jay
Northern Parula
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher