Nature Sightings March 7, 2006

Didn’t get to see much here at Camp (Cass County, MI) because I was at CCCI (Christian camping) conference at Michindoh(in Michigan).  


Weather:Today, was a beautiful sunny day, but still pretty chilly here in southwest Michigan. 

Redtail Hawks: I did spot about 3 to 4 red tail hawks between here and Mishawaka, Indiana, while I was driving on US 80.  They really seem to love the interstates.

Road Kill: There also seem to be lots of road kill as of late. I’ve spotted many carcasses of raccoons, fox squirrels, opossums, and a couple skunk.  I wonder if anyone has done research on the amount of road kill during different times of the years?

Returning Animals: In recent weeks, I’ve spotted robin flocks, male groundhogs (I assume they are males because they come out of hibernation about 3 weeks before females or so I’ve read), red winged blackbirds in the wetland areas, and a single common grackle that have all made there presence known again here at camp.  Spring must be just around the corner. 

Frogs Will Be Calling Soon: The male Western Chorus, Spring Peeper, and Wood frogs should be heard here at camp soon.  Just last week I signed up with the National Wildlife Federation’s “Frog Watch” program to monitor frogs in our fen wetland.  It seems to be a pretty low key program that can be done at my own pace.  I hope to get some of the school students and summer campers to get involved with this program. 

I think the hardest part of “Frog Watch” will be to learn the sounds of the individual frogs.  Last year my wife gave me the concise field guide “Reptiles and Amphipians of Michigan” by Stan Tekiela, which has an accompanying CD of frog calls.  I’ve found that the differences in frog sound are really quite distinct. I’m pretty solid on about six calls, but still have some more work to do since there are 13 frogs that make their home here in Michigan.


Wetland Book:  Just picked up a wonderful nature book “Swampwalker’s Journal” by David M. Carroll.  I am just in the first few chapters about vernal ponds(these are wetlands that dry up at somepoint – usually annually), and I’m finding it a wonderful read. He writes about taking a flashlight and going out at night to these small secretive ponds in the early spring to look for salamanders making their way to these fishless ponds to mate.  He has inspired me to give this a try and see what wonderful things I can find. 


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