Friday, July 20, 2012

Birding with Scout

I have about 7 million things to do to prepare for Bowling for Rhinos in two weeks, but the much cooler temperatures today pretty much forced me to procrastinate and go birding. With Scout.

Kaylin went to a 2 day Farm Camp with her friend Zoe on Thursday and Friday. Today was milking day and the kids had to arrive at 6am.  Waking Kaylin at 5am was no treat, but she dragged herself out of bed and was ready when her ride arrived.  I was up and dressed and raring to go by the time I took Logan to Camp Zone at 7:15.  I thought that Scout would love to come along and would enjoy the ride.  I guess I also thought I had done a similar trip with him before, but I don't think that actually ever happened.  Scout whined the entire drive to Banner Marsh.  I felt like tossing him out of the car.  He got much happier when we got out of the car and started walking around.  Scout did eventually calm down and sleep during the drives and I changed my mind from NEVER AGAIN to next time.  We were gone 9 hours and other than the first one, he did great.

Today was egret day.  I saw hundreds or possibly even thousands of great egrets, cattle egrets and snowy egrets.  They were EVERYWHERE at Banner Marsh and Emiquon. I also saw lots of terns, an adorable young killdeer and my first of year bobolink.  Barn and tree swallows were thick.  I was impressed at the surviving numbers of mute swan cygnets this year.  I bet I saw three times as many as last year.  I was hoping to see a nice variety of sandpipers, but I saw one greater yellowlegs at Banner and that was it.  I was still thrilled with the variety of birds at Banner and Emiquon.  I then moved on to Chautauqua.  Lake Chautauqua was completely drained.  The North Pond had water, but practically no birds other than huge numbers of swallows and a small group of great egrets.  Whoop.  Chautauqua always seems to be a jackpot of birds or a huge disappointment- I don't think I've ever had a nice, mediocre visit.  I drove through Sand Ridge and was thrilled to FINALLY get my first of year ring-necked pheasant.  I saw it about a second after I pulled into the park and I don't recall seeing one other bird.  I moved on to Spring Lake to find hundreds of swallows and dozens of great blue herons and little else.  I wonder why one side of the river was teaming with birds and the other was dead?  I think I saw around 45 species and added at least three to my year list.  The second half was a bit disappointing, but it was a good trip.

It was too late to drive Scout home before picking Kaylin up from Farm Camp, so I took him with me.  He was overwhelmed by all the smells and animals.  The ducks kept stalking him, the sheep were afraid of him, the resident dalmatian wasn't thrilled with him, the cows were interested and followed him and the pigs liked him.  I was too scared to take him near the ponies, but I did get a glimpse of the adorable, tiny foal.  Kaylin had a blast!  She milked cows, led lambs around, gathered eggs, worked with the ponies, made butter and cheese, played in a corn crib and helped feed and care for all the animals.  She said it took 2 1/2 hours to milk the 90 cows and they have to do it twice daily.  Wow!  I can't imagine spending 5 hours a day, 365 days a year milking cows!  And then caring for several horses, chickens, ducks, pigs, cats, a dog and a LOT of sheep on top of it.  And I don't even know how many acres of crops they have!  That would be a busy life!  This year's camp was a Kaylin/Zoe thing, but I think Logan would love it and I hope to send him next year.

We left Farm Camp and went to pick Logan up at Camp Zone.  Scout got out with me when I went to sign Logan out, but he was so tired he barely reacted when the kids swarmed around to pet him.  He crashed when we got home and I assumed that after our big day he'd be out the rest of the night.  Nope.  He's playing neverending fetch with Gene as I type :)

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