It drizzled all morning, but we had Scout badges to earn, so we met in the parking lot of the Peace Valley Nature Center where I gave a quick lesson on the use of optics and a field guide. The attention span of a ten-year old is about 6 seconds, so I lost them pretty quickly.
On Deer Trail in Peace Valley Park
Checking out a bunch of rocks where a snake might live!
On to the woodland trails. We saw bluebird and owl boxes which gave me a chance to talk about nesting habits and nocturnal birds. One of the boys saw a great blue heron fly in and perch in a tree over Lake Galena, so we all got great looks at it. Meanwhile, three belted kingfishers were doing a noisy display diving for fish. We trekked for about an hour and saw gray catbird, American goldfinch, mallard duck, downy woodpecker (thanks to a quick spot by one of the parents - I love it when the parents are involved), red bellied woodpecker, Canada goose, Northern mockingbird and the last bird of the day - double crested cormorants. By the time we saw the cormorants perched on rocks in the lake, the boys were more interested in tossing pebbles, so I knew it was time to wrap up the trip.
Tallying up the day's list
The Scouts also found deer and raccoon tracks, deer poop, a small animal den (with a front and a back door, one of them pointed out), turned over rocks looking for snakes, and picked me a beautiful bunch of wildflowers to show their thanks. But the day's best find, and the one that garnered the most excitement and shouting each time it was spotted.....the gray squirrel.
We gathered back at the picnic pavilion to write down our observations and have a snack as well as to gather for a group photo.
Me and the new birders (note some of them holding up their new field guides)
It was a fun birding day (20 species - not bad for a day in the rain with a rowdy group) and I hope that I was able to turn at least a few young boys into birders. Thanks boys. I had a blast.
My thank-you bouquet