Aerial photo of NW portion of park showing burn area (Jensen Pond left center), 3/28/12 (Evan Koester)
The Iowa DNR did some project flying on Wednesday and took aerial photography of several central Iowa locations including Ada Hayden Heritage Park. Thanks to Jim Giglierano and Evan Koester for the photos. I will be posting a larger selection of the days photos soon.
Wetland complex, southwest corner of the park, looking northeast (Kevin Kane)
Another beautiful evening at the park. The blue of the water, amber of the last of the sun's rays on the treetops, and green of the new vegetation made a colorful display in the wetland areas in the western half of the park.
Saturday was also a "Day of Insects" at Reiman Gardens. Wolf
Oesterreich and I presented our five years of data on Dragonflies and
Damselflies at AHHP. Our presentation was one of 15 presentations at the fourth
annual meeting of this group that attracted more than 100 people. I showed a
slide of a damselfly, a Blue-fronted Dancer, that had captured an insect. One
of the entomologists identified it as a member of the insect Order Mecoptera,
and I was later able to identify it to species as a "hanging fly" on
a web site called Bug Guide. This web site was developed by entomologists at
Iowa State U. and has become the "go to" site all over the world for
users to identify their insects from photos. The hanging fly has very long
front legs with a hook at the end which it uses to hang from branches of vegetation.
The long legs and distinctive head were clearly visible on my photo.
Wolf reported that he saw the first dragonflies of the season last Wednesday
and Thursday, March 21 and 22, at the park. These dragonflies were Common Green
Darners and on Thursday he observed them ovipositing (laying eggs).
Entomologists believe this species migrates to the Gulf Coast for the winter
and darners that appear this early in the spring are probably early migrants
from the south rather than emergents from the ponds.
On Sunday afternoon, Janet and I walked up the upland trail to Jensen's Pond.
While Janet sat in the swing at Rotary Overlook, I walked around the pond. One
of the first birds I saw was an Eastern Phoebe. It caused me to recall that 50
years ago, almost to the day, I began a four-year field study of this species
near Lawrence, Kansas that became my doctoral dissertation in Ornithology. The
thesis was titled "Breeding Ecology of the Eastern Phoebe and its
relationships with the Brown-headed Cowbird." The Eastern Phoebe is a
member of the flycatcher family of birds and usually builds its nest made of
mud and grasses on buildings are other structures. It likes protection from the
elements so its nest is always under an overhanging eave of a building. In
eastern Kansas it uses concrete culverts or road bridges as nesting sites. I
once found a phoebe nest tucked under a rocky outcrop but natural sites in
Kansas were scarce as they are in Iowa. The phoebe is a frequent host of the
Brown-headed Cowbird that is an obligate social parasite. The cowbird lays its
eggs in the nests of a large variety of species and the host does all of the
work of raising the cowbird young. Such behavior has evolved independently
several times among avian families, for example, old-world cuckoos.
This morning (Monday), a phoebe appeared suddenly in my back yard, the first
time I have seen it in the yard in 37 years. It must be some kind of omen
because yesterday, I saw a Brown-headed Cowbird in the yard.
I walked at Ada on Friday
(3/16) about 7 and at 7:30ish we were over by where the upland trail meets the main
trail on the south point. We were on the gravel up about 50 feet or so and
could see the dirt spit on the south side of the pond that is closer to the
houses. So, not the main body of water. We saw two fawns or little deer (it was
getting darkish) prancing around the spit, running in the water, chasing each
other, splashing and generally having a great time. Then we saw a bigger deer
watching from the willows and that one never went in the water. My guess is
they might do that regularly and maybe at that time - 7:45 by now - so if you
wanted to see them cavorting, take a hike. Google maps for
Date: 3/19/12 10:15 am
From: Claudette Sandoval-Green
Subject: [ia-bird] Ada Hayden 03/18/12
We walked the upland trail yesterday (3/18) at Ada Hayden about 5:00 pm, and
spotted two Eastern Bluebirds just before you get to Jensen pond on
the south side of the trail, looked like one male and one female.
Also, just past the Circle of Life we saw one male Eastern
Meadowlark and three unknowns (females or juveniles). Most likely
females he was putting on a show - on the ground just in front
of the line of nest boxes.
I've always found these to be really skittish. It was nice to get one. Particulars, Nikon D-80 with Nikkor 80x400 AF VR at 400mm. I've cleared the card already but as best I can recall, 1/250 sec., f6.3, ISO200, spot metered on the breast. It was tripod-mounted and the nice, warm lighting was behind me. It is cropped and enlarged, and sharpened just a tad. That makes me think that I may need to check and see if I have bumped the diopter setting through-the-lens as my eye for focus is usually pretty good.
Ames Online has a nice article on the evolving controversey of changing the land use plan to allow for development of Oaks golf course directly northeast of AHHP into 4 large residential lots, affecting both the AHHP water and viewsheds. There are a long line of comments also that are very worthwhile to read and gauge the community's interest in the issue.
Mourning Cloak, 3/14/2012 (Wolf Oesterreich) Wednesday, March 14, 2012 I found my first butterfly of the season, a Mourning Cloak, along the west bluff spur. I usually find 1 or 2 in this area, but never this early in the season. Along the Upland Trail, below the "Circle of Life", was a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out several of the Tree Swallow nesting boxes.
A homeowner along the south side of the south lake, up behind the savanna woods, had burnt some vegetation in the backyard, probably illegally since we are still under a no-burn mandate. With southerly winds, gusting to 24 mph, smoke wafted through the woods and across the trail. One could still smell the smoke while crossing the bridge.
Fog lifts near the south lake outlet, 3/13/12 (Kevin Kane)
Tuesday, March 13, 2012. 2 to 3 pm. Bright sun shine, slight southerly breeze, temperature 65 degrees F.
Beautiful day. Lots of walkers, bikers and dogs. Took the upland trail today. Saw a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, Robins, Crows and at least six Killdeer. About 50 Canada Geese and a few Mallards were on one of the small ponds that still has water in the north wetlands. The flock was totally silent, and most were sleeping. Seven more geese were on Jensen's Pond. Painted turtles were out in force on Jensen's Pond. I counted 15 on a log on the west end, 1 on a log in the middle and 18 more on several logs on the east end of the pond. There was a variety of sizes indicating that reproduction is occurring. Painted turtles burrow into the soil to overwinter. They also lay their eggs in shallow nests that they excavate on shore.
Mallards near the south lake outlet at sunset, 2/25/12 (Kevin Kane)
Little was found on the main lakes this morning. A small flock of Lesser Scaup left the north lake and headed off to the northwest. Mallards still outnumbered other ducks and geese. As I was riding down the Upland Trail, near the north trailhead, I heard a familiar call. I quickly stopped and looked skyward. Two Sandhill Cranes circled above before heading off to the east. (I have recorded this species here 4 times before [1998, 2004, 2007, & 2008], mostly in flight.) (I spent last Sunday and Monday in Nebraska, between Grand Island and Kearney, watching and listening to the wondrous spectacle that is the crane migration.) A Northern Shrike landed in a tree in the amphitheater woods (along the Upland Trail). One was also sighted yesterday, along the south side of the south lake's west bay. Northern Shrikes have been quite common this Winter season. It's quite possible that it is the same individual each time.
During the past week I observed the following: Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Ross's Goose, Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and Hooded Merganser. On the 7th, I found a mixed flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, Rusty Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings (in decreasing order of abundance) in the burn area, near the north Upland Trail trailhead.
Geese over the north lake at sunrise, 3/6/12 (Kevin Kane)
Friday, March 9, 2012. 1:00-2:00 pm. Clear, bright sunshine. Temperature: 38-41 degrees F. Slight breeze.
I have not been to the park for several days. I have been following Kevin Kane's blog and daily photo--really nice. The ice is completely gone from the lakes. About 200 Canada Geese were on the south lake along with a variety of ducks. I identified 3 Cackling Geese, 10 Red-Headed Ducks, a pair of Pintail, a pair of Wigeon, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, a pair of Gadwall, Mallard (about 20) and Lesser Scaup (about 10).
Other birds: a Red-tailed Hawk, many Crows, and one Red-winged Blackbird male in fresh plumage. This is the first Redwing I have seen this year although I am sure some have been around all winter.
Last Monday, March 5, I saw a half-dozen Turkey Vultures circling near Grand Avenue and 15th Street. For many years, I have noted that Turkey Vultures returned to the pine grove near Ames High School on or about March 23. March 5 is a very early record for this species.
Ames City Staff Report
Request for LUPP Amendment for Oaks Golf Course
March 6, 2012
Affected area (Oaks Golf Course) on ridge in background (Kevin Kane)
From the report:
By way of overview, this proposed amendment to the LUPP would involve changing this land use designation from Parks and Open Space to Rural Residential in order to allow development of residential estate lots. Council may want to give consideration to such factors as the City’s ability (or inability) to provide utilities to the area, impact on the City’s watershed (particularly Ada Hayden Lake), impacts on the viewshed from Ada Hayden Memorial Park, and general consistency with the Council’s adopted goals and policies.
It was a beutiful morning in the park with warm gusty south breezes pushing temperatures up to near record highs during the day. The ice that reformed from this week's snow and cold temps is melting quickly on both the north and south lakes. Birds on th lake were more spread out than I had seen them in a long time.
The 5th annual Ames Reads Leopold at the Ames Public Library was a great success with readings by community members and music interludes by folk singer Tim Southwick Johnson of Wisconsin. Johnson featured his original ballads and other songs inspired by Leopold's essays.
The event was sponsored by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Leopold Center for
Sustainable Agriculture, Ames Public Library, Big Bluestem Chapter of the
National Audubon Society, Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park, and Ames Chapter
of the Isaac Walton League.
Fifth Annual Ames Reads Leopold
Date: Sunday, March 4th, 2012
Start: 1:30 pm End: 4:00 pm
Location: Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Avenue, Ames, Iowa
Contact: Erwin Klaas, (515) 233-3327, firstname.lastname@example.org
The focus will be on the writings of Aldo Leopold from A Sand County Almanac that are read aloud as part of Aldo Leopold Weekend activities across the country. New this year will be musical interludes by folk singer Tim Southwick Johnson of Wisconsin, featuring his original ballads and other songs inspired by Leopold's essays.
The Ames group is led by retired ISU professor Erv Klaas. The public is invited to attend this event, either for its duration or just 30 minutes. Refreshments will be served, and copies of A Sand County Almanac will be available as door prizes.
The Ames event is sponsored by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames Public Library, Big Bluestem Chapter of the National Audubon Society, Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park, and Ames Chapter of the Isaac Walton League.
Though most of the ice has retreated from the south lake, there is still a bit in the western bay and also at the outlet where floating pieces have accumulated. Friday morning also brought a sight I hadn't seen in a long while, a lone kayaker gliding across the south lake. A chilly morning ride!