Sunday, June 19, 2011

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes May 2011

Hi Everyone!  I thought you might join me for a walk.  Long sleeves and pants and/or bug spray might be a good idea if you do the walk’s wooded section.  Start at the kiosk at Curry Avenue and the Zim-Smith trail.  Cross over Curry Avenue, going north on the Zim-Smith, to take a look for the Killdeer (bird) family.  They are to the right of the trail, down in the area that was a large puddle.  Sue J told me about seeing them there.  You may hear them saying their name.  They are gray-brown above, with a white neck and belly and two black breast bands.   As of June second there were at least five of them running around in this area.  Now come back across Curry Avenue and head south.  On your left the spring rains have made some huge puddles as well as ponds.  Mallards have been swimming and dabbling in this spot.  Linda P and I saw and identified a Solitary Sandpiper at the water a few weeks ago.  You may see Blue Jays, Robins, European Starlings, Common Grackles and House Sparrows as you walk along.  When you get to the stream listen for the Eastern Wood Pewee which calls its name- “peweee”.  It sits in trees and then swoops out to grab passing insects.  A loud and deep “weep-weep” can be heard here too.  It is the Great-crested Flycatcher.  It also snatches insects in mid-air or gleans them from treetop foliage.  Most days I hear these two birds but don’t see them.  A Common Yellowthroat Warbler calls “wichity- wichity- wichity”, in the tangle of low shrubs on the right side of the trail near the stream.  It also stays out of sight.
If you are not going into the woods, walk down along the streambed and wait for us at Peck Avenue.  You can look to see if the Mallards are going downstream or if any birds are bathing.  There’s usually a pair of Cardinals in this spot.  If you are going through the woods continue walking on the Zim-Smith.  Note on the grassy right side of the trail, that there’s some Poison Ivy.  “Leaves of Three- Let it be”!  The leaves are toothed or lobed and can be dull or shiny.  Right now they are greenish-red in color.  On the left side of the trail, look for a well-worn path into the woods, heading east.  In this stand of red and white pines you’re sure to hear a Chickadee or two.  At the end, take a left and you’ll see Peck Avenue up ahead.  Look for Jack-in-the-pulpit, which is a wildflower, on the left side.  It also has three green leaves but they are not toothed and a fourth leaf curls down and can be streaked with brown or purple.  It’s referred to as the pulpit.  Before you get to the first downed tree, look into the woods on your right to a pine tree with at least a half dozen woodpecker holes.  In the third hole from the top, there’s a wasp nest tucked in!  It’s high and dry.  When you get to the stream, check for tracks on the muddy bank.  Even earthworms make tracks.
So we meet up again.  Let’s walk down Peck Avenue heading north.  In the wooded section on the right side I hear Song Sparrows, a Carolina Wren, a White-throated Sparrow and a “Loud Mouth” that I’m still figuring out.  Last year, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers nested in here but I haven’t seen them this season.  Buttercups, clover and Common Fleabane are growing in a grassy section after the woods.  Now we’re up at the yield sign at Peck and Lake Avenues.  I’m going to let you go with hopes that you got a glimpse of a bird or two and enjoyed the walk.  Let me know how it went.