Thursday, May 14, 2009

Into Iowa

May 7, Thursday

Things started looking up in Iowa. My first stop was a spur of the moment turn around when I passed Pioneer Ridge County Nature Center. Really nice place for a county park, with a beautiful visitor's center, and a lot of good habitat with water features. I found several warblers as well as other woodland birds, some new tics. Stayed well over an hour and regretted it wasn't longer, but I needed to get to Neal Smith NWR. It was very good for sparrows, but a continuous drizzle made it less enjoyable than my hopes. I walked the whole prairie loop from the VC. Note that this is a place with an excellent bookstore for prairie information, especially detailed botanical publications. I had downloaded a pdf of sites, called "The Makoke Trail", around Des Moines, and started methodically checking them out with the Neal Smith stop. I was particularly interested in Saylorville Lake, which has consistently produced sightings of vagrant and desirable gulls, but also had shorebird and woodland habitat around the area. I wanted to get a feel for the area, and what kinds of camping was available.

I stopped at the Visitor's Center, grazed the information, then started up the east side stopping at most of the sites in the pdf. The shorebirds were absent, bad timing on my part, a south wind had swept everything further along an their migration, and no new birds had accumulated behind a wind shift. At the north end the trail blended easily into Ledges State Park, a very interesting piece of geology with several well preserved CCC structures. I got a campsite there, $11, good deal with showers, and made the first of three drives through the park and vicinity. When it got on toward evening, I headed into Ames assuming a college town would have some fast food joints and wifi hotspots. KFC was the wrong choice that day, even though it's usually a favorite. Something about the food set off some hiccups, which were still going the next day, but not really a problem. I got a shower, which I've noted was challenging, something about the plumbing or stall geography. No trouble stopping the hics when lying down by briefly holding my breath.

May 8, Friday

Made another loop of the park, took some pictures of the CCC buildings, poked my nose in brushy edges and played the owl tape inside some woods, then headed off to find some other sites. Harrier Marsh wasn't too birdy, but did have a Harrier. By Far the best site that day was Hendrickson Marsh, which had a fair selection of waterfowl and somee miscellenious woodland birds in cottonwoods along small drainages. I didn't check the urban parks, but probably will when I make another visit to the area when I get another chance to work on the Iowa list. From there I drove on to Belleview State Park with its great view of the Mississippi River and a lot of good warblers hanging in the trees on the bluff. It started raining around 6pm, and I ended up sleeping 12 hours while it continued. The hiccups continued as well. I picked up 15 Iowa tics by days end, very satisfying, even with few shorebirds.


Post a Comment

<< Home