Sun, May 3 2009 - This One's for the Birds!, pt.2 (View Original Event Details)|
This was the event that almost didn't happen, due to rainy weather. Fortunately, there was enough coverage in the scouting stages that I can say that itís been one of my most favorite events to present.
There are a lot of neat, sciencey nature activities happening all around us locally that deserve to be on one's "lifetime experiences checklist,"...the bird banding sessions at Eden Mill Nature Center is definitely one I am glad to have learned about.
With support from nature-oriented groups like local bird clubs, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been able to run a successful bird banding program to gather data for a number of studies related to bird migration behaviors (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/
). A small group of dedicated members of the Harford Bird Club have been conducting bird banding survey activities at Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville, MD for several years now. They have extended invitations to the general public on certain weekends in the Fall and Spring. Attending sessions last Fall and this Spring, in preparation for this event, gave me a greater insight and appreciation for the work that these volunteers modestly perform.
I was darn lucky to have great weather for my Spring scouting run. Even though it was an early start, I was also happy to have my former neighbor and friend, Bev, along to share the experience. It helped to know she used to be a vet tech and had a keen interest in birding!
Eden Mill is one of those places which is best visited once or twice and then left alone. It is a nice out-of-the-way place, but a far drive for most visitors. Leaving from the Columbia-area at ~7:30AM with one quick stop, we got there only at about 9:30AM. I was looking forward to the Spring sessions, because in the Fall I was told that the variety of birds encountered were far more colorful. This was neat to know, especially since at the Fall session I attended, we saw lots of neat little greenish birds called kinglets. If we had gotten there about two hours earlier, we could have helped set the bird nets up. After brief introductions to the group, Bev and I went on a couple of net runs with them. Only one of the more common birds, the white-throated sparrow, had flown into the nets while we were there. The banding volunteers, led by Dr. Mark Johnson and Les Eastman, timed their net runs to allow half-an-hour to pass between each. During that time, we looked through photo albums from the Club's birding trips and talked about things like, general bird banding points, some of the latest environmental news, as well as, normal, light chit-chat about family stuffs.
After the second net run, we returned to the Joe Vangrin Memorial Pavilion, a nice little shelter built for the birding volunteers, and said our goodbyes. Bev and I then took a short-but-challenging, easy-paced nature hike along the outermost path of the crisscrossing bunch of short trails. It started off with a mostly uphill climb but that changed into a steep downhill twisting trail that led down to the canal-like Deer Creek. That's where we heard a barred owl and maybe saw the resident red-tailed hawk overhead. We took the boardwalk over to the nature center where we looked at the nature displays and spent some time checking out the wide variety of common-but-neat birds at the bird feeders.
We wrapped up the scouting run with a stop over at My Three Sons for pizza in Churchville.
As far as most prolific and memorable bird outings, this one has raised the bar!
With light-but-steady rains on the actual scheduled day of the event, the banding crew didn't set up, since any netted birds wouldn't fair well. They would be at risk from hypothermia and might be a little more stressed overall from the banding experience. It just goes to show that the banders are really all about the birds' welfare. Thanks again to Mark, Les, their volunteers and the Eden Mill park staff for making this activity possible.
The following pictures span both Fall and Spring sessions:
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