Wednesday, September 10, 2014. 5:30-7:00 pm.
Cloudy, south wind, cool. Temperature 53 degrees F.
Jim Pease led a group of 12 on a birding program at the park. I brought my 12-year old grandson, Theo, from Des Moines. He has shown some interest in birds. Despite the cool and cloudy evening we saw some interesting birds. An adult Bald Eagle flew over the north lake as we were assembling near the shelter. Then an Osprey put on a show over the lake. It hovered several times and dove unsuccessfully for fish. Several small groups of Canada geese flew into the wetland west of the lake. We then walked up the upland trail towards Jensen’s Pond. Along the way we saw a Ring-necked Pheasant, an Eastern Kingbird, a Northern Cardinal and a Black-capped Chickadee. From the trail near the overlook, we could see the northern most wetland which had a small amount of standing water from the recent rains. The Canada Geese we saw earlier were there along with Wood Ducks, Mallards, and Blue-winged Teals, a Great Blue Heron, and an American Egret. Three Common Nighthawks flew over as we were standing on the trail. Jim explained how this species has declined in numbers in recent years. I recalled seeing hundreds of nighthawks during fall migration in Ames when I first moved here in 1975. I used to see them over campus in the summer time and knew that they nested on the gravel roofs of buildings such as McKay Hall. I haven’t seen a nighthawk on campus in years. As we returned to the parking lot a Green Heron flushed from the shoreline of the lake. I was pleased that Theo got to see most of these birds and helped me construct this list after arriving home.
I am a member of Ducks Unlimited. The recent issue of their magazine reported that nearly all species of ducks showed an increase in population surveys this summer. This is good news for birders as well as hunters.
I am pleased to report that a group called GAAR (Great Ames Area Race) uses the event to raise funds for Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park and the Emergency Residence Project. The Race is held at Hayden Park and consists of running, biking and canoeing. Last year they presented us with a check for about $800. This year, Rick Dietz one of the organizers, tells me the amount will exceed last year’s check. It will be presented at the park (north shelter) on Sept. 24, 5:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and thank the group for their support.