May at Baird Creek by Charlie Frisk

Yellow flower May at Baird Creek most certainly did not disappoint.  After a long, cold winter and a rather dreary March and April spring finally arrived.  The late spring delayed the warbler migration enough that on our May 10th bird survey we tallied the most species ever, 57 total.  The stars of the show were the warblers, 15 different species, some such as the Northern Parula, that I had never seen before.  At times there were as many as four species of warblers flitting around in front of our group of Birders.

Most of those warbler species will continue on to the Northwoods of northern Wisconsin, the U.P., or Canada before settling down to nest.  Small areas of native woods such as Baird Creek function as way stations for those species, places where they can stop and rest for a few days, and feed on insects, before continuing their migration.  As more woodland habitats are lost to development, the remaining areas such as Baird Creek become increasingly important for migratory birds.  A few species of warblers do remain at Baird Creek to nest.  The more common ones would be yellow-rumped warblers, ovenbirds, common yellowthroat, and yellow warblers.  Several species such as wood thrush, scarlet tanagers, and red eyed vireos that we would normally expect to tally had not yet arrived, or our count could have been even higher.

The spring flower show was particularly spectacular in May.  Some of the species that normally finish their bloom in April were still hanging on into May, and the May species were in blossom simultaneously.  It was possible to see blooming skunk cabbage, marsh marigolds, trilliums, bishop’s miter, wild ginger, spring beauty, jack in the pulpit, and a host of other species on the same hike.  Due to the late spring the first date I saw May apples blooming was June 1st, but I suspect a few were blooming in late May.

Early June is a great time to visit Baird Creek.  The spring ephemerals will still be blooming for a couple of weeks, courting birds fill the air with their beautiful notes, and the forest is a beautiful, emerald green.  The predictions of lots of mosquitoes appear to be accurate.  I recommend long sleeve shirts and pants as well as mosquito repellent, particularly in early morning and evening.  However, a hike at Baird Creek is always worth it, no matter how bad the bugs.

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The Bird Hike was a Success!

Thanks to all who braved the early morning call to join us on our annual Bird Hike through the Greenway on Saturday, May 10th.  We were able to find more species than we have ever found before and the rain held off so we consider this event a success!  Here is the list of bird species that we found in the Greenway: Canada Geese, Mallard Duck, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Ring-billed Gull, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black and White Warbler, American Redstart Warbler, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow,  Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose–breasted Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, and American Goldfinch.

Earth Day Cleanup Leaves the Greenway Pristine

We would like to thank the 100+ volunteers that participated in the Earth Day Cleanup on Saturday, April 26th!  Although it was a cold day, volunteers showed up and cleaned the greenway of garbage from end to end. We also had a large group  of UWGB students plant an area of the park with prairie grass seeds.  The BCPF would also like to thank Lox, Stock ‘n Bagel for donating bagels for the event and Fleet Farm for donating garbage bags!

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April—The Arrival of Spring—Usually

April is usually a month of great transition as we move forward from the cold, damp days of March to beautiful warm spring days.  Unfortunately this year that never happened, and the whole phenology of spring was thrown off schedule.  By late April we can normally expect skunk cabbage, marsh marigolds, spring beauties, hepatica, and bloodroot to be in their full glory.  This year we had to settle for just the skunk cabbage.  However spring will come eventually and we will see our spring flowers in all of their beauty.  I have a suspicion that this year the April and the May flowers will get pushed together into one display.

The Earth Day spring planting and garbage cleanup held Saturday, April 26th was on a cold day, but was on one of the few rain free days in that time period so we can count ourselves fortunate.  Over 100 volunteers showed up and cleaned the park of garbage from end to end.  A large contingent of UWGB students planted an area with prairie grass seeds and with all of the rain we are having there should be excellent germination.

A few more species of migrant birds have arrived to join the March migrants such as red wing blackbirds and robins.  I have seen hermit thrushes and yellow rumped warblers and suspect that woodcock have returned as well.  This year we will have to wait for May for the big push to come through.

Warm, sunny days will arrive, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.  However even a cold, bleak day spent hiking at Baird Creek is a good day.  See you in the woods.

Charlie Frisk

BCPF Annual Banquet was a Success!

The Baird Creek Preservation Foundation’s 16th Annual Banquet and Meeting was held on Monday, April 7th, 2014 and was enjoyed by all!  The banquet was fun, entertaining and educational.  Our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Val Klump, shared his expertise on keeping lakes healthy and how we can make a positive difference in our local freshwater community.

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