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Ripples from the Dunes: Summer Bird Survey

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Ripples from the Dunes: Summer Bird Survey

Deep within the forest at Woodland Dunes

The next article was written by Woodland Dunes Nature Middle for the Ripples from the Dunes collection. 

One time-honored custom at Woodland Dunes is the summer season hen survey.  We don’t discuss with it as a nesting survey, as a result of we don’t truly doc nesting as was finished for the Wisconsin Chook Atlas- quite it’s a collection of counts finished every summer season in the course of the nesting season to doc what species and to some extent what number of birds are current within the Woodland Dunes Preserves.  They had been begun about 50 years in the past by Bernie Brouchoud, who went on to discovered the Woodland Dunes group and who tirelessly counted and banded the birds discovered right here.

Bernie’s early summer season counts had been touring counts- he had greater than a dozen routes that he walked in and round what was later to change into the primary protect, counting each hen heard or seen.  The routes took him (later us) cross country- typically by difficult mucky swales, typically alongside roadways.  A few of the routes took us far off path into the guts of the State Pure Space by swamps lined with numerous purple maple and inexperienced ash forest, with white pines and hemlocks on the drier ridges.  The deep forest at 5 am was a misty, magical place the place orchids had been encountered together with uncommon birds (for japanese Wisconsin) like Acadian flycatchers, brown creepers, white-throated sparrows, hermit thrushes, broad-winged and red-shouldered hawks, and different surprising residents.  Previous fences and historic farm equipment deep within the woods reminded us of a busy previous the place the forest and adjoining fields had been utilized extra for folks than birds, making us surprise what number of grazing cows turned caught within the mucky soil, and what it will need to have taken to free them.  Mosquitoes had been plentiful, and our hip boots protected us not solely from the swale’s waters however lots of of little biters.

An issue with the touring counts within the forest was they had been laborious to duplicate.  On the time GPS was solely reasonably correct, and solely Bernie knew the place his wandering routes took him within the forest, and even he assorted from yr to yr.  We then adopted a collection of about 30 level counts, with factors positioned at locations that had been simple to seek out from yr to yr.  So, going ahead, we are able to examine birds encountered at particular locations through the years.  We are able to nonetheless examine total species numbers over that point, and luckily they haven’t modified an excessive amount of.  Bernie used to document about 110 species in the summertime at Woodland Dunes, and this yr’s counts yielded 102.  We predict that’s a exceptional variety of hen species in a single location throughout a non-migratory interval, and speaks to the variety of habitats discovered right here.  Some birds previously encountered are sadly missed, like upland sandpipers, yellow-headed blackbirds, and black terns.  Some are nonetheless current however not as widespread, like white-throated sparrows, scarlet tanagers,  grasshopper sparrows, and black-throated inexperienced warblers.  Nonetheless others appear to holding their very own, like redstarts, yellow warblers, and japanese meadowlarks within the grassland areas.  And a few, like dickcissels and Henslow’s sparrows are variable and laborious to foretell.

The summer season hen surveys at Woodland Dunes, regardless that they’re time-consuming, require us to work together with nature in an intense and private approach.  They offer us a possibility every year to evaluate what’s occurring every year within the protect on the peak of the rising season.  They pressure me to concentrate on all the dwelling beings, plant and animal, that encompass me as I survey their world.  And as I journey by it I’m pressured to face the truth that regardless that I’m current, I’m separated from it by my use of my automobile to entry it, my repellent to maintain undesirable bugs away, my cellphone to document checklists quite than my memory- so many issues.  My entanglement with nature is incomplete, however I hope that I can expertise and doc sufficient, and carry sufficient of the expertise with me, that I can assist these birds and the environs they depend upon working as they need to a bit longer than they in any other case would.  As one other fantastic change of season unfolds and wildlife is rearranged, I hope you could expertise a way of belonging on the earth of the birds, and proceed to seek out methods to assist them as effectively.

photo- deep within the forest at Woodland Dunes

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