On occasion, I have the opportunity to go on bird outings with my Ornithology class. We are required to write and submit three field journal entries as part of the course, whether it be from our own observations or during a class outing. Since this would typically be something I’d post on this blog, I figured I’d share this with you guys verbatim. There were some requirements to the assignment, one of them being to give the proper common and scientific names of any birds we mention. Other than that, this is a nice and causal assignment that I thoroughly enjoyed writing.
Hope you all enjoy and possibly learn a little something while reading this!
April 20, 2017
Outing took place at 8:20am – 10:30am
On this trip, we went to a different park in Platteville this time: Mound View Park. I’m surprised I never got around to visiting this park on my own time; from what I saw and explored of the park with my class, it’s a nice park and covers a good-sized area. Maybe visiting here never crossed my mind before because I honestly would have no reason to go down Broadway St./County Road B towards the elementary school, so I never thought anything of that park, nor knew it existed.
While we did have another cloudy bird outing, it was only a little chilly this morning and the trees blocked most of the wind. It was also somewhat wet out, but that was due to the rain storm from the night before.
We started this outing with a short point count exercise in the parking lot. All you do is stay in one spot for a few minutes and just look and listen to any and all birds you can identify. From this, I managed to identify four species, though I’ve seen or heard these species from previous outings. Three of these I was physically able to see, but I was only able to hear the Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). While we only saw a few during this point count, I can see why this would be a beneficial method for field studies of birds: you just plop yourself at a determined location, quiet down, and just observe for a few minutes, then move to the next area to do the same thing.
I admit, trying to get a good ID on many of these birds was a challenge. They were either too far to make out some good details, I just miss them, or they could only be heard but not seen. We did see and hear several sparrows throughout our hike in the park, but I was only able to pick out the Chipping Sparrow from earlier and plenty of Field Sparrows (Spizella pusilla) around the park. I swear, for some reason, I expect to hear some popping noise every time I hear their unmistakable “bouncing-ball” trill; maybe I always think of a firework or something every time I hear it.
Of course, I was quite happy to spot at least one woodpecker on this outing, specifically a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). Thankfully I could get a clear shot of it, as well as see it pecking away at the tree it was perched on. I’m not sure why, but I always get a little excited every time I see a woodpecker species. Personally, I just like their shape and the general plumage coloration between these bird species. Who knows.
The biggest treat of this trip, though, was getting a chance to see a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) close enough where we could get a good look at its plumage. It was high up in the trees and was usually perched, but flew between branches occasionally before we left the area. We didn’t get to see its full plumage, as it was molting at the time, but it was still a cool sight to see. I did try to capture a picture of it with my phone’s camera, but it disappeared before I got the chance. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to see one again;
At one point while we walked along an open area of the park, a Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) flew right above my head and perched itself on a nearby bush. I only saw it do this at the last second, as I was trying to find birds elsewhere. Still, this was the second close encounter I’ve had with a bird on one of these outings; thankfully this time it wasn’t an eagle like when we went to Eagle Point Barge.