PGT Bird Walk – 7 AM on Saturday April 26, 2014

Parula americanaNorthern Parula

A Spring Bird Walk will be held at the Prairie Garden Trust (PGT) this coming Saturday. It is free and open to the public. The walk starts at 7 AM sharp (rain or shine) and usually finishes before lunch. I hope you can join us.

Yesterday on a walk to our family cemetery I noticed a thicket of Wild Plum blooming. When I went to inspect and found Blue-winged Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcathers and this Northern Parula working to glean insects from the flowers. The bird was so tame that it simply ignored me as it fed.

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Blue-winged Warbler

Vermivora cyanopteraBlue-winged Warbler

The Wild Plum makes a great setting for this stunning Warbler. I got this picture this morning in the field next to our family cemetery here at the Prairie Garden Trust. The yellow on the bird is so intense that I had to turn down the saturation.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronataYellow-rumped Warbler

I photographed this bird in front of the PGT Visitor Center this morning. They are heading north to nest in Canada. This is a good bird to practice taking pictures of since they are sluggish; at least compared to the other warblers.

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Ovenbird

Seiurus aurocapillusOvenbird

I just heard my first Ovenbird of the year. Ovenbirds are another one of the Warblers that nest here.

I heard the bird in the Eastern Valley as we were walking back from a picnic lunch. I didn’t have my bird lens with me but I did find this photograph that I took in 2003.

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Do controlled burns help exotics spread?

Invasive ExoticBush Honeysuckle with Berries

Walking after dinner tonight I noticed some shrubs leafing out along the trail. Inspecting them I was disappointed to find Bush Honeysuckles, an invasive exotic from China.

You might wonder what I would have against such an attractive plant. The problem is they tend to overwhelm native shrubs and wildflowers. Much of suburban St. Louis is now carpeted with this shrub and not much else.

Matt, Justin and Jen work hard at to control invasive exotics at the Prairie Garden Trust; they are constantly on alert. Given how time and money we invest in keeping out exotics I was surprised to see these shrubs tonight.

It made me wonder if the controlled burns we are using could in any way contribute to their spread. The burns are a form of disturbance that exposes soil that may help with plant germination. Does anyone know if burns help bush honeysuckle spread?

Note: this picture was not from tonight, I took it in late summer when the shrubs have attractive red berries.

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More Warblers Back

Parula americanaNorthern Parula

Two more Warblers have returned to the Prairie Garden Trust. One a walk this morning I saw a Common Yellowthroat and a Northern Parula. Both nest here.

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Canada Goose Nest on a Bluff

Canada Goose Nest on BluffI always think of geese being by water nesting by water. I’ve just discovered that they also nest on bluffs. Last weekend I found this nest on the Savanna Bluff Overlook here at the Prairie Garden Trust. The bluff is a rocky outcrop a couple hundred feet above Hiller’s Creek.

It is hard to imagine how they can be successful in such an exposed spot. Last year I saw a Bobcat close to this spot.

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More Early Migrants

Mniotilta variaBlack-and-White Warbler

I heard the first Black-and-White Warbler of the season today. I was taking a walk at The Point.

Black-and-White Warbler are one of our most common nesting Warblers. Their behavior is more like a nuthatch than the other warblers that I know. They tend to climb along tree trunks looking for bugs.

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Bloodroot with Bee

Sanguinaria canadensisBloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis

On our picnic lunch today in the Eastern Valley we found solid evidence of Spring. In addition to the Bloodroot shown here we found Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauties, Dutchman’s Breeches and Liverworts in bloom.

To make it even better we saw the first migrant Warbler of the year; a Louisiana Waterthrush. You can always find them singing along the edges of the creek.Louisiana Waterthrush

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Flowering Quince – Not all exotics are bad!

Chaenomeles speciosaFlowering Quince – Not native to the PGT

We showcase native plants at the Prairie Garden Trust. The idea is to find the beauty in what nature has to offer.

When we find exotics (plants that don’t occur here naturally) they are often invasive and we are trying to get rid of them. However, not all exotics are bad! Today I noticed the Flowering Quince buds are swelling and about to burst open. Wonderful!

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