By Arie Gilbert
Ward Pound Ridge has always been a popular trip. Turn out for it this year was lower than usual perhaps due to the weather forecasts, but much to our delight we had but a few brief showers and the weather overall was quite nice! Ha to all the weather-warts!
We began the day with a walk along the main road and perused both sides of it encountering Field Sparrows, Prairie Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Indigo Buntings. Blue Birds were everywhere, in numbers higher than we had ever seen and a pleasure to see that they were doing so well. Missing however was Blue Grosbeak, thought to be absent due to severe mowing of their favored field. A special treat for us was viewing a 3 week old Woodcock chick being nurtured by the resident rehabilitator Jenni.
Returning to the cars, we were alerted to Tiger Moths and other colorful leps resting on the back wall of the comfort station, as well as numerous large Dobson Flies.
We went further into the park for a hike along the Cross river. A blooming Mulberry held many delights that included Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We heard Worm-eating on the hill, Chipping Sparrow on the lawn, and Pine Warbler in the pines as we entered the woods, and along the river we had Louisiana Warbler.
Emerging at Kimberley Bridge we had numerous Dragonflies that came out with the sun, and saw Prince Baskettail, Powder Dancer, Ashy Clubtail, and Maine Snaketail, amongst others. Cedar Waxwings were in the same trees they have been in for the past several years, as were the Yellow-throated Vireos. A nice addition was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
We continued past “Eric’s Snake Pit” but could not find any, and in fact had only one snake for the day, and that one was road-killed. At the end of the road in the river we saw brilliantly colored Red-Bellied Sunfish – their fins and lips edged in fluorescent blue-green, and a brilliant cherry red cast along the sides. Also seen were Rainbow Trout, and Fallfish, waiting for some prey to come by.
Heading back to Kimberly, we saw the Cuckoo again, and then Eric decided to try an new location; the trail to the former fire tower. The hike was very nice but a bit steep for some, and we got into a unique habitat of mountain laurel under story. The wind really picked up, and started howling at points, so that may have kept some of the residents hunkered down, but we had nice looks at cooperative Black-and-whites.
By the time we returned to our cars, it had started to rain lightly, and we decided that it was a good time to start our BBQ based upon the deteriorating weather. We headed over to the Michigan road meadows, and we took shelter in one of the lean-to’s. However, the rain soon stopped, so we began cooking preparations until we were approached by a park ranger. In my many years of going to this place, I had never seen nor known that they had a park ranger. And he informed us of the not so minimal price for use of the lean-to, so we moved to our usual location by the circle.
We all enjoyed burgers and fixins, though there was no sign of the Black Rat-snakes that entertained us last year by mating in the large Maple tree. The conversation eventually turned to upcoming trips, and the much anticipated Sharon Springs trip for Henslow’s Sparrow, and the proximity of the Mississippi Kites in Root. Of course, it brought up the incredible luck of QCBC having had MIKI not once, but twice on Basherkill trips. And shortly thereafter George and Eric got us all on a bird flying above us that turned out to be none other than a Mississippi Kite!!! A most delightful cap to the day, and a splendid example of one of the “Universal Laws of Birding” namely the “Casual Incantation Law”
The trip tallied over 60 birds, and numerous Leps and Odes.
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