The Wilds - 11-14-2010

The Wilds

We arrived at the Wilds at 9:00 A.M. almost exactly. It was the 13th of November, and it was an unusually warm day for November, but I was too distracted by the idea of where I was in order to pay it much mind. The Wilds was a place I only heard about, never visited, and a place I have wanted to see for a long time. The idea of seeing Zebras, rhinoceroses, and giraffes outside of a contained area is extremely appealing to me, and seeing some more birds I have been learning about was exciting as well. Indeed, going into the field the day after my lab practical was going to be very fascinating, having studied these birds to a great extent for the exam certainly would insure my ability to accurately identify them in the field, and indeed that proved to be the case with our first sighting of a few Horned Larks immediately after our arrival.

There was also a blue jay with them, along with a couple of American goldfinches, which could be heard chirping their song. Crossing the road, we came to a pond, where fellow ornithological student Bryan spotted a male northern harrier in the distance. I was not able to see this, however what happened next became the highlight of the trip for me. A Northern Shrike was spotted, and I was able to follow it the entire time he was in our presence, flying around the grasses and shrubs. At one point, he flared his tail in front of me, showing off his beautiful plumage and sassy movements.

In the lake, we were all not originally able to view any wildlife, due to our angle and the bright morning sun glaring upon the lake. Getting closer, we were able to make out some Mallards and American Black ducks upon the water. Dr. Miles saw some Lesser Scaups as well, before they flew away.
Loading back into the vans, we headed over to the visitor station and arrived at 9:52 A.M. From this high view point, we were able to see very far around the entire area, and through the binoculars the rhinoceroses and buffalo kept at the Wilds. In terms of birds, we were able to make out: 

- 84 Canada Geese
- An American Crow
- Turkey Vulture

While leaving, a sparrow was spotted, and much time was spent looking at the curious bird for signs of what type of sparrow it was. A good 20 minutes or so was spent looking through the scope for its feather markings, and at last it was decided to be a Savannah Sparrow. 

Back in the vans, we went upon the process of riding along a the roads and stopping every half mile or so to bird watch. Our next bird seen was a hawk, but was classified as a Beuto Unknown, as it flew away before it could be identified. And actual Red Hawk was later seen however.

On one stop, with a heard of Zebras in the far back, a red tailed hawk was seen perching on a fence post. Another bird, a Morning Dove, flew up beside the hawk and it flew off in glorious fashion, across the sky above us and to its nest in a nearby tree. An American kestrel was also seen in the area.
By 11:15 A.M., we arrived near the giraffe barn, in which we saw a Cucu, and later towards a barn two kestrels chasing a hawk, two woodpeckers, believed to be yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and a Bluejay
Our final stop was at another pond, in which we saw a Northern Shovler, a Killdeer, a sandpiper, and Dunlin. We also got the chance to see some Canada Geese feed, which proved to be rather comical.

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