Saturday, May 10, 2008

Big Day Part Two: The Drive

The Springfield Plateau is an ecotonal zone between the prairies of the Great Plains and the oak/hickory deciduous and short leaf pine forests in the southern Missouri Mark Twain National Forests.

Fortunately, there were several unique microcommunities to explore on the drive to the forests from the prairies on Big Day 2008. Our first stop was at a wetland area near Ash Grove. The local scouts had developed a trail around the pond. We immediately heard a Yellow Warbler, so we decided to walk the trail. As we left the parking lot, we picked up a Northern Parula. Shortly thereafter, a Green Heron flew in. Yellow-throated Warblers were everywhere, and Tennessee Warblers showed their drab plumage to keep us temporarily puzzling over the ID. But the highlight was this Blackpoll Warbler that gave us great looks. This was only the fourth one of this species I've ever seen, so it was a real treat!All photos courtesy of Marvin DeJong
We were forced off of the trails by rains, so he headed on to the Willard quarry. Along the way, we picked up Bobolinks and a Ruddy Duck. When we arrived at the quarry, the Painted Buntings were waiting for us. We observed 3 birds. Here's a few of Marvin's pictures of two of the 3 birds:
All photos courtesy of Marvin DeJong
After leaving the quarry, we bee-lined to the French's Mustard plant on Interstate 44. There, amid new construction and habitat destruction, is the nest of a Missouri bird. Swainson's Hawks successfully raise young exclusively in and around Springfield, and no where else in the state.A brief look, a few pictures, and we were off once again for the forests of southern Missouri. Next blog entry: the glades of Busiek Conservation Area and the trees of the Mark Twain National Forest. Stick around!
All photos courtesy of Marvin DeJong

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