Monday, September 17, 2007

Midwest Birding Symposium-Nahant Marsh

After the I got back from the Andalusia Slough field trip I ate some lunch and then headed to a workshop by Paul Baicich about birders, environmentalism, and the national wildlife refuge system. The workshop was interesting and the point that I came away with was that as a birder and an environmentalist I need to do my part to help preserve places for nature and for future birders. Some ways that were suggested that we could help were to join a NWR friends group, volunteer to help at a NWR or buy duck stamps. The money raised by duck stamps, which I admit I always associate with hunting of which I am not a supporter, is used to purchase land which is set aside as waterfowl habitat. This land may be used for hunting but there are also many species which are not hunted which use the same lands. I bought 5 stamps that afternoon.
Maybe some day in the future duck stamps can be changed into a NWR passport stamp. The money will still be used to purchase habitat but the stamps will be associated with the refuge system instead of hunting. This way it would also raise more money, which is important because the number of hunters buying stamps has been declining, because everyone who wanted to use the land to hunt, fish, bird, walk, run, bike or any reason would have to buy a stamp. I know that I would not have a problem paying $15 a year to use the refuge system if I knew that the $15 would be going to purchase more habitat.

I skipped the later workshops so that I could catch a quick nap. The dinner cruise on the Celebration Belle Riverboat was scheduled for later that night and even though I had registered and payed to go I decided that I would have a better time going out and doing some birding on my own. I had never been to the Quad Cities and I wanted to take advantage of this new location to perhaps see some things that I don't normally get to see at home. While we were out on the Andalusia Slough field trip someone mentioned that there was a marsh close by. I got some basic directions from them and with a map that I found in my convention packet I made my way to the Nahant Marsh.

The Nahant Marsh was not quit what I expected. When I hear marsh I usually think of a large expanse of wetland but Nahant Marsh is more like what we call nature centers where I live. Even though it was not as large as I was expecting it was very nice with several types of ecosystems, forest, prairie and wetland, well groomed trails, a couple of docks and a nice blind over looking the water. I spotted a few sparrows in fields, although they disappeared before I could get a photo or ID the type. I saw a northern flicker in the trees by the blinds. The highlight of the trip is when I came around the corner of a path and flushed a redtail hawk from the tall grass next to the trail. He took off and flew around the corner before I could get a picture. I stopped to investigate why he was on the ground and I found a half eaten rabbit there. Since he had not gotten a chance to finish his meal I guessed that he still might be in the area so I continued along the path and found him perched near by.

While I watched he cleaned his beak a bit by rubbing it against the tree branch.He just sat and let me take quite a few pictures.

So I decided to leave him and let him get back to his dinner.I also found some dragonflies to shoot while I was there like this band-winged meadowhawk. It is very similar to the white-faced meadowhawks that I frequently see back at home except it has the reddish marking on the wings.I also found this female blue dasher. The name does not seem to fit but like many birds the male and females look different. The male blue dasher actually has a blue abdomen while the female are more camouflaged.

All and all I had a good time at the Nahant Marsh and I was glad that I had decided to go out and do some birding.

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