20 June 2015

A fondness for thistles

Blooming thistle
From a little patch of grass where the rail lines vault over Parkside drive.  In a month or two, maybe goldfinches will be eating the seeds; for now, yes, invasive, yes, spiky, but also this vivid burst of purple I'm fond of seeing.  And the goldfinches don't seem to mind the invasive.

14 June 2015

Yesterday's best bird

Yesterday was the annual Carden Count, where bunches of people haul themselves up to the Carden Alvar for a 06h00 start time and go stand on designated points and spend five minutes counting all the birds they can see or hear.

This requires somebody comfortable with GPS devices, as well as someone who can ear-bird, so I still get to be useful.

A cloudy cool morning, dimmer than usual, and much wetter; it's been raining enough to leave puddles on the surface and established mud, which is tough to do on an alvar -- and a faster spring; the prairie smoke is nearly all done blooming, and the mosquitoes were available in quantity. The expected birds, though; loggerhead shrike (I am hoping the low nesting reports are a side effect of reduced funding and thus fewer researchers, because we found a probable nest location), upland sandpiper, (winnowing) snipe, grasshopper sparrow, vesper sparrow (so many vesper sparrows), golden-winged warbler, indigo bunting, an absolutely brilliant rose-breasted grossbeak, sedge wren, marsh wren, kingfisher, hooded merganser, surprise ruffed grouse, and the inescapable turkey vultures.  (Also a kestrel and a probable distant harrier, plus an osprey on the way up.)  No sandhill crane.  Pretty good day.

But the "best bird" wasn't, it was

startlingly southern moose

Moose have been moving southward the last several decades, as the succession process of former fields gets to actual trees and the habitat starts being moose-suitable, but that's still a startlingly southern moose.