Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feb 29, 2012: Wolf's February AHHP Bird Count

Mallards on south lake, 2/25/12 (Kevin Kane)

Below are my sightings for the entire month.
A total of 37 avian species (plus 1 sp.) was recorded this month.

Listed below, following the species’ names, are the date(s) of sighting(s), plus the occasional miscellaneous information regarding numbers, gender (♂=male, ♀=female), age (im=immature, ju=juvenile, abp=adult breeding plumage, ad=adult, anb=adult non-breeding), color phase (b=blue, w=white), and location (BY=back yard).  The order follows the 52nd Supplement (2011) to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds and the 11th Supplement to the 7th Edition (1998).
     GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE: 6 (7), 8 (9), 9-10 (8), 12 (8), 13 (4), 14 (9), 15-16 (12),
                                    21 (18), 22 (in flight), 28 (~40 in flight)
     CACKLING GOOSE: 1, 2 (~150), 4 (~12), 6, 8, (~150), 9-16, 21 (~6), 23
     CANADA GOOSE: 1, 2 (~1000), 3 (<100), 4-7, 8 (~1500), 9-17, 20, 21 (150-200), 23, 24 (109), 25-26,
                                    27 (54), 28
     TRUMPETER SWAN: 5 (2 ad), 11 (6 ad), 14 (7 ad + 1 im), 15 (5 ad + 1 im), 27 (6 ad + 1im)
     GADWALL: 1 (1♂ + 1♀), 21 (3♂), 22 (2♂)
     AMERICAN BLACK DUCK: 1-3 (1♂), 5-9 (1♂), 12 (1♂), 15 (1♂)
     MALLARD: 1 (286+), 2, 3 (197+), 4 (342+), 5 (191+), 6-7, 8 (361), 9-15, 16 (394+), 17, 21 (181+),
                                    22 (87), 23, 24 (47), 25-26, 27 (34), 28, 29
     NORTHERN PINTAIL: 1 (1♂), 21 (3♂ + 2♀)
     RING-NECKED DUCK: 15 (2♂)
     HOODED MERGANSER: 25 (2♂), 26 (1♂ + 1♀)
     COMMON MERGANSER: 6 (1♂), 29 (2♂ + 1♀)
     RING-NECKED PHEASANT: 1-2, 4-5 (1♂ BY), 6, 10, 12 (1♂ BY + 2), 15, 22, 25, 26 (1♂ BY), 28
     BALD EAGLE: 2 (1 im), 3 (1 im + 1 sub-ad), 4 (1 im), 5 (1 sub-ad), 6 (1 ad + 1 im), 7 (1 im), 12 (1 im),
                                    14 (1 ad + 1 im), 17 (1 im), 25 (3 ad), 26 (1 ad + 1 im), 28 (1 ad + 1 im)
     COOPER’S HAWK: 1 (1), 4 (1 ad BY), 5 (1 im BY), 8-9 (1 im), 24 (1 ad), 26 (1 ad BY), 27 (1 ad),
                                    29 (1 ad BY)
     RED-TAILED HAWK: 1 (1), 2 (2), 3 (1), 4 (3), 5-6 (2), 7 (3), 8 (1), 9 (2), 10 (1), 12-13 (1), 14-15 (2),
                                    16 (1), 21 (2), 22 (1), 25 (3), 27 (1), 28 (2)
     KILLDEER: 21 (1), 28 (2)
     MOURNING DOVE: 1-2, 4-5, 7-16, 21, 24, 26-27, 29
     Owl sp.: 11 (1)
     RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER: 4, 6, 7 (1♂ BY), 12-13, 15, 28
     DOWNY WOODPECKER: 1-2, 4-9, 12-17, 21, 23, 25-29
     HAIRY WOODPECKER: 6, 8, 14-15
     NORTHERN SHRIKE: 3-4 (1), 6-7 (1), 10 (1), 15-16 (1), 21-22 (1), 28 (1)
     BLUE JAY: 4-5, 12, 16
     AMERICAN CROW: 1-17, 21-29
     BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE: 1-10, 12-13, 15-16, 21-27, 29
     WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH: 2, 4-6, 8-9, 15-16, 25
     BROWN CREEPER: 9 (1)
     EUROPEAN STARLING: 1-2, 4-10, 12-17, 21-22, 24-27, 29
     CEDAR WAXWING: 4 (~20)
     AMERICAN TREE SPARROW: 1-5, 7-10, 12-17, 21, 24-29
     SONG SPARROW: 4 (1), 7 (2), 10 (1), 12 (2), 13-15 (1), 21 (1), 24-25 (1), 28 (1)
     DARK-EYED JUNCO (Slate-colored): 1-8, 10, 12-17, 25-29
     NORTHERN CARDINAL: 1-8, 10-17, 21-22, 25-29
     HOUSE FINCH: 1-10, 12-17, 21-29
     AMERICAN GOLDFINCH: 1, 4-8, 10, 13-15, 17, 25
     HOUSE SPARROW: 1-16, 22-29

Feb 28, 2012: Cold and Rainy with Thunder!

Off the path to the northeast of Jensen Pond at sunset, 2/27/12 (Kevin Kane)
More photos and videos can be found here.

It was a blustery day on Tuesday so why not some pics from Monday!  This is a group of photos I took Monday evening around sundown.  I decided to walk with Sunny on the road less (or almost never) traveled that took us north around Jensen Pond, right at the very north boundary of the park where it meets the crop fields.  There was just a bit of snow left but it was pretty easy to hike around and made for a fun excursion.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb 27, 2012: Wolf's Field Notes

Just two weeks ago we had several hundred to over 2000 Canada Geese and over 300 Mallards. Lately, the numbers have dwindled to almost nothing. With the south lake about 80% ice-free, I only found 6 Canada Geese and 4 Mallards on the water. However, on the various ponds, there were an additional 48 Canada Geese and 55 Mallards. The best find today were the 7 Trumpeter Swans (6 adults and a near-adult immature, the right-most bird in the photograph). When they were first sighted, they were swimming in the open water and then ended up on the ice sheet in the west bay. All had "rust" stained heads and necks.


Wolfgang Oesterreich

Feb 26, 2012: Pic of the Day

Edge of the ice sheet as it recedes on the south lake, west of the bridge, 2/25/12 (Kevin Kane)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Feb 25, 2012: Walk at Sunset

All of the ice is now off of the north lake and the south lake is about 1/3 to 1/2 covered on the west and northeast ends.  There were a few clouds at sunset which painted the sky  from white to salmon to orange as the sun set.  Not too many birds on either lake but enough for a few nice photos. You can find the whole photo set here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feb 24, 2012: Snow & Eagles


The morning was filled with lots of snow and birdlife, 2/24/12 (Kevin Kane)
You can find all the photos here.

The wet, heavy snow that fell last night made the park quite a backdrop for photos this morning.  Although I didn't get to the park until it had turned somewhat overcast, there was plenty of winter splendor to be taken in.  The ice on the north lake is now gone except in the very southeast corner where large sheets were collecting. There is still ice on the south lake over the western area and also on the northeast.

I could hear geese on Jensen pond but did not walk up the hill to see how big the flock was.  There were only a few geese on the south lake and those that were there kept shrinking in number taking off in groups. On the north shore of the south lake I turned back to see two juvenile bald eagles on a tree on the bluff.  As I tried to get closer, one took off but the other stayed long enough for a couple photos and then also took off.

The bridge was caked with the heavy snow as I walked back across to the east to the park sign. Turning to the north, I was taking more photos of the bridge when to the north I saw two large birds flying in to the south.  They turned out to be a large adult bald eagle and another juvenile. The two glided over the bridge for almost five minutes before flying off toward the Ames water tower.

All in all, it was a great morning for a walk around the park.


Feb 23, 2012: Pic of the Day - Ice Retreating

Edge of the ice as it retreats on the south lake, 2/24/12 (Kevin Kane)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb 22, 2012: ISU Class Report

Periodically I check for things on the web that deal with Ada Hayden Heritage Park.  I've found an interesting class report done at ISU for Landscape Architecture/Natural Resources Ecology and Management 468x/568x - Ecology and Design of Landscape Restoration.  You can find it here:

Other information about the class can be found here:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb 20, 2012: Erv's Field Notes #25

Cattails east of southwestern wetland, 2/17/12 (Kevin Kane)

Monday, February 20, 2012, 12:30 to 1:30 pm. Cloudy, brisk south wind, Temperature 42 degrees F.
North lake is still frozen with some open water along the edges. Ice fishing has stopped as warm days have weakened the ice. The south lake is about one-third open water.

The number of geese has declined since last Friday. Today I estimated 250 Canada Geese, about 20 Cackling Geese, and 1 White-fronted Goose. Mallards are holding at about 200. While scanning the flock on the edge of the ice, I spotted a male Canvasback duck swimming nearby. A few minutes later, seven more Canvasbacks (three females and four males) flew over the lake several times and then landed on the far western edge of the open water. The single "can" began swimming toward them and eventually joined up with them. Three male Lesser Scaup then flew in and landed near the Canvasbacks. When I completed my walk around the south lake these 11 ducks were all on the east end of the open water. I also saw an adult Bald Eagle fly over the lake.

Erv Klaas

Feb 19, 2012: Pic of the Day

Crows gathering south of the western wetland, 2/17/12 (Kevin Kane)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feb 17, 2012: Fire Scars

View from trail on west hill looking west northwest across park towards shelter (Kevin Kane)
More photos with locations.

It was a beautiful afternoon Friday so after work I took a hike up to the area in the park where fire broke out last Sunday and made its way across the northwest area of the park. Here are some photos that show the path of the fire. I hope to get out sometime this weekend to map out the fire boundary with GPS.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feb 16, 2012: Ada Hayden: Prairie Preservationist Pioneer

This article originally appeared in INHF's Winter 2007 magazine.

By Teresa Beer Larson
One hundred years ago, Ada Hayden was a botany student at what was then called Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). In addition to taking classes, Hayden was honing her passion for prairies and native plants—an interest that persisted throughout her career.
Described as both “eccentric” and “emotionally dedicated to the prairie effort,” this early Iowa conservationist’s legacy to future generations can be spotted in prairie preserves throughout the state—where graceful, tall native grasses bend in the wind and brilliant prairie flowers bloom.
See full article here.

Photo from:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb 14, 2012: Calm Morning on South Lake

As  I drove south on Highway 69 Tuesday morning, two huge white Trumpeter Swans flew over me from the west looking for a landing spot on the south lake while another group of three flew in further toward the south.  I pulled into the southeast parking area and tried to see if I could find them for a photo.  I never did see them again but did take this 30 second video of the south lake.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feb 12, 2012: Erv's Field Notes #24

Enjoying the park on Sunday post-fire, 12/2/12 (Kevin Kane)
See more Sunday pics here

Sunday, February 12, 2012, 2 pm. Bright sunshine, Temperature, 27 degrees F., West wind.

When I arrived at the park today, fire trucks from Ames and Gilbert were fighting a grass fire. The fire started next to Grant Road on the west side of the park and quickly spread toward the east, aided by a the westerly wind. It burned a strip across the planted prairie and some of the dry wetland. It made it all the way to the gravel path leading up to the ridge. Fireman had it completely out by about 3 pm. I took a number of photos and sent them to Kevin Kane for posting on his blog. The fire probably did more good than harm.

The area of open water on the south lake was a little larger today and the waterfowl were behaving much like yesterday although they were closer to shore on the south and east side. I noticed some courtship behavior in a few of the Canada Geese. Males swim behind or beside a female with his neck stretched out low over the water. He held his mouth wide open and called repeatedly. Any other goose that came near he would chase away. All the while, the female acted as though he wasn't there.

Courtship behavior will increase as spring approaches. Geese mate for life but many two- and three-year-old geese are looking for mates. About a week ago, I witnessed a fight between two geese that was probably a squabble between two males vying for the same female. The geese were in the water and one had a hold on the other one's neck. Both were flapping their wings and splashing the water vigorously. Prior to the fight, most of the geese in the flock were sleeping quietly on the ice. The noise of the fight caused them all to wake up and begin calling loudly. Watching geese sleep can be quite boring but if you are patient, you might see something interesting.

Erv Klaas

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feb 12, 2012: More on the Fire

Fire trucks in northwest section of the park. (Erv Klaas)
More fire photos from Erv
See 1st post with more pics here.

From Erv:
There was a grass fire at Hayden Park today. Started on the west side at Grant Road and spread rapidly eastward ahead of a strong west wind. Fire trucks from Ames and Gilbert put it out about 2:30 pm.

And more...
WHO-TV: AMES GRASSFIRE: A fire on Ames' north side burns several acres of Ada Hayden Park

Feb 12, 2012: Fire at Ada Hayden Heritage Park!


Fire and smoke from fires in the northwest portion of the park, 2/12/12. (Wolf Oesterreich)
See 2nd post with more pics here.

Early this afternoon fire broke out in two areas in the northwest area of the Park. It appears that the entire northwest corner, from the entrance to the Upland Trail was burnt. Another area was just north of the small woods along Grant Ave to the Paisley gate, eastward across the Upland Trail and then ENE to the north trailhead to the Upland Trail. Three units from the Gilbert-Franklin Township Fire Dept, two from the La Fayette Township, and 1 from Ames responded to the fire.

In my opinion the area needs a good burn, just not an uncontrolled one, and at the proper time of year. I suspect that a tossed cigarette may be the culprit.

I hadn't been home for more than 30 minutes after my ride around the Park when I heard the sirens and saw the smoke. I was in the backyard, filling the bird feeders. Three species of geese (Greater White-fronted, Cackling, & Canada) were still present, as well as Mallards and 1 American Black Duck. The juvenile Bald Eagle had circled the area a few times.


Wolfgang Oesterreich

Feb 11, 201: Erv's Field Notes #23

Geese reflected at the ice edge, south lake, 1/5/12 (Kevin Kane)

Saturday, February 11, 2012, 12:30 to 2:00 pm. Bright sunshine, temperature 19 degrees F., brisk wind from the northwest.

North lake completely frozen over except for an opening under the bridge and some open water near the shore.

South lake is about two-thirds frozen with a large area of open water in the center. Most of the geese and ducks were sleeping on the ice on the west side of the open water area. Numbers are about the same as previous reports. I spotted one male Common Goldeneye duck. A juvenile eagle was in the air over the Skunk River east of the park.

Erv Klaas

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feb 10, 2012: History

An early email from Erv informing the community of the opportunity at Hallett's Quarry, Nov 18, 1999.

As you may know,  the lake created on the abandoned Haletts Quarry on the north side of Ames is an important alternative water supply for the City of Ames during drought periods.  The water there is presently of relatively high quality.  A recent proposal to develop the land around the abandoned quarry raises questions about the effect of this development on water quality in the quarried lakes.  If surface water runoff from housing developments is allowed to enter the lake it could cause eutrophication and degradation of this important water supply.  In my opinion, this whole watershed should be protected by placing it in a city park and allow only uses that would protect and maintain the quality of the water entering this lake.   Stone Brooke and Bloomingtion Heights developments already are probably having some effect and the agricultural land to the west is being eyed by the developers. 

See the full document.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feb 9, 2012: Pic of the Day - Geese

 Geese fly off after picking up some snacks left for them near the south lake outlet.  Kevin Kane

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Feb 7, 2012: Take a Run at AHHP

"Though many outdoor runners take to the sidewalks or streets, there are several places in Ames that make a special run. Try the ISU Cross-Country Course, Ada Hayden park just off North Grand Avenue (it's bike- and pet-friendly too), or carve a path through Iowa State's campus."

See the whole article at: Iowa state Daily, 2/6/12

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feb 6, 2012: Wolf's field notes

Just before stopping to scope the waterfowl on the south lake, a drake Common Merganser took flight.  Then I heard the call of another goose species and soon found 7 Greater White-fronted Geese.  Both are new species for the year.  While attempting to count the Mallards, two Bald Eagles (a juvenile & an adult) flew low over the water scattering the geese and ducks.  Then they lazily sailed off towards the Skunk River.  The juvenile returned later, settling in a tree below the bluff.  I was able to obtain a photograph.  The drake American Black Duck was still present, although sleeping on the ice.

Wolfgang Oesterreich

Juvenile Bald Eagle, 2/6/12 -- Wolf Oesterreich

Erv added:
By the way, the American Black Duck is one of many reasons why the American Ornithologists Union and most ornithologists capitalize English names of birds. Using the name with lower case letters, black duck, could refer to several species of ducks that are black, e.g. Scoters.

Erv Klaas

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feb 5, 2012: Super Sunday

A Sunday stroll across the bridge, 2/5/12.  Kevin Kane.
All photos from 2/5/2012

OK, maybe not super - more like blustery, but quite a few brave souls made the trek to Ada Hayden Sunday for their pre-game activities.  There was little evidence that the snow that fell Saturday had any intention of hanging around as temps right above freezing melted most of it away.  I ran into Erv half way around my walk around the south lake.  Erv confirmed there wasn't too much bird activity, at least midway through the afternoon.  The south lake open water continues to grow but hosted only a few geese and ducks.  I took a few photos of those birds that did decided to hang around for the afternoon (and even a couple mussels hiding among the rocks).


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feb 4, 2012: Snowy Saturday

Ice formation on south shore of south lake -- Kevin Kane
Ames got just a dusting of the big snowfall in west-central Iowa and everything melted off almost as soon as it fell.  Above average temps are keeping a good portion of the south lake open for birds.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feb 2, 2012: Blues and Browns

The shelter looking north over the north lake.  Robin McNeely

The last day of January 2012 found my partner and I biking around Ada Hayden lake in light windbreakers. Who would have predicted this great weather for Iowa in the "middle of winter"?
Ice was on the lake but there was plenty of open water for the fowl gathered on the south end. This picture of the north end of the lake shows off the varied shades of beige and brown that color an Iowa winter. We were lucky to have blue sky on Tuesday and this ride will be a happy memory when the inevitable snow does arrive.

 - Robin

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb 1, 2012: Warning - Thin Ice

Jan 31, 2012: Goodbye to a warm January

     Geese take flight from south lake, 1/31/12 -- Kevin Kane

As we say goodbye to January, two waterfowl species were added today to this year's list: a drake Northern Pintail and 2 Ring-necked Ducks. The drake American Black Duck was observed almost everyday from the 11th, including today. However, the female American Wigeon presence was more sporadic. She was last seen on the 30th. The drake Ruddy Duck found on the 24th lay dead on the ice the following day. The initial 6 Trumpeter Swans on the 30th consisted of 2 adults and 4 immatures. I had 2 adult Cooper's Hawk visit my backyard on the 28th. One had been present for 30 minutes when the second landed on my deck railing. Then both flew off together. I wondered if they were the breeding pair from Brookside Park.

Who would have thought that I'd be riding around the lakes in shorts in January!

Wolfgang Oesterreich