Monday, August 20, 2012

Sherburne Fall Warbler Workshop Results

On Saturday August 18 Bob Janssen led a "Fall Warblers Workshop" for refuge volunteers and the Friends of Sherburne NWR. 

Most of the Fall warblers we see are migrating south from their northern breeding grounds. Identification is a challenge because they no longer have the distinctively colored breeding plumage we see in the Spring migration. Bob projected a series of images comparing spring and fall birds while instructing us about what to look for when not scratching our heads. Following the indoor presentation, we looked around the refuge headquarters, then made a loop around the Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive, stopping 3 places to look for warblers. We hit pay dirt in the woodlands just past mile marker 5, where we tallied 11 species of warblers, 4 vireos species, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and a few others that showed up. Here's the list.

  •  Yellow-throated
  •  Blue-headed 
  •  Warbling 
  •  Red-eyed 
  • Golden-winged
  • Black-and-white 
  • Tennessee 
  • Nashville 
  • Common yellowthroat
  • American redstart
  • Magnolia 
  • Blackburnian 
  • Chestnut-sided 
  • Black-throated green 
  • Wilson's 
Very exciting was the find of 3 buff-breasted sandpipers on the north end of Big Bluestem Pool - new refuge birds for me. (I think Bob Janssen is my good luck charm) Everyone got to see several common gallinules on Big Bluestem Pool as well. They have been much easier to see the last 3 weeks or so - out foraging in the open a lot more often. 

Betsy Beneke, Visitor Services Manager
edited and posted by KB

PS. Refuge staff have reported a couple of red-necked phalaropes in areas of the refuge not open to the public. These birds could show up in one of the pools along the Wildlife Drive. And you might be lucky enough to see them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Snapping Turtle Laying Eggs

Sherburne volunteer Sherry Winter grabbed these shots along the Wildlife Drive on May 24, 2012. A second turtle was seen laying eggs earlier in the day. So May must be the time for turtle love and reproduction.

Female turtles dig a hole, lay their eggs, cover them up, then trundle away to do turtle things elsewhere. Unfortunately racoons and other animals enjoy turtle eggs. They find the unprotected nests and devour most of the eggs. Very few turtles survive the egg stage. But turtles live a very long time so even with very few eggs surviving in any one year they will be able to keep up their population, in the years and decades.

Sherry, thanks for sharing!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Woodland Trail/ Wildlife Drive May 13


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Citizen Science: Princeton 7th Grade Worm Watch Project

May 4 2012. Four groups of seventh grade students from Princeton, MN, came to the refuge to experience Citizen Science by working on the Great Lakes Worm Watch project. The goal of the refuge project is to determine presence/absence and abundance of earthworms, which are not native to our area and are extremely destructive to our northern forest ecology.The goal of the state-wide project is to identify areas that have not been invaded by earthworms that are destructive to our northern forest ecology.

Major funding for the project was provided by a Nature of Learning grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.Data collected will be submitted to Great Lakes Worm Watch, Duluth , to be analyzed and added to their database.

The hands-on project action consists of using a solution of mustard powder in water to bring up the earthworms in a small, defined area. The worms are then soaked in alcohol, popped into a labeled bottle of preservative, and shipped off to the UMD scientists at the project center in Duluth. Every aspect of the action is fully documented on forms submitted along with the specimens.

Sue Hix, President, Friends of Sherburne NWR, and Jess Johnson, project co-organizer, welcomedstudents and reviewed the procedures taught earlier in a class room session. Beth Watson, the refuge employee in charge of visitor services, also served as an organizer for this outing.

Each group of students picked a location near the beginning of the Mahnomen Trail and filled out the data sheet that would pinpoint he location with GPS co-ordinates.

Mustard water is poured within a frame that defines the area for worm extraction.

The next part of the job is to wait for the mustard-hating worms to pop up.

Extracted worms are soaked in alcohol, then placed in a labeled vial of preservative to be shipped to project headquarters in Duluth.

Because the refuge is such a great home for all sorts of wildlife the adventure went beyond extracting and preserving earthworms. Along the way a few local residents presented themselves. Here are some pictures of the day's exciting discoveries.

Note that normally visitors are prohibited from handling wildlife on the refuge. The presence of refuge personnel and trained leaders made it possible to hold these finds for close-up inspection.

Co-leader Jess Johnson holds a gopher snake (aka bull snake), Minnesota’s largest snake species, found along the trail. This snake likes gophers - as a meal that is.

Mr. T, teacher and co-organizer, examines the gopher snake. He knows that snakes are interesting, not creatures to be feared. Of note is the fact that there are no venomous snakes
in this part of Minnesota. The gopher snake, if threatened, will do a good imitation of a rattlesnake, but it is all just a bluff.

This northern skink was in the process of growing a new tail to replace one lost to a would-be predator.

An early season grasshopper hitched a ride on a sleeve.

An adult redbelly snake, one of Minnesota's smallest snakes, is not much bigger than a night crawler, which is one of the things it eats.

This picture shows the docile little snake's red belly.

A young garter snake is easily held in one hand.

Co-organizer Jess Johnson holds an adult garter snake

Group leader Wyatt Anderson found pupa that will e a buzzing cicada in the heat of summer.

This tree frog was enjoying the warm sun after being underground, frozen nearly solid, all winter.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wildlife Drive - Early May

With the Wildlife Drive opening April 9 there has been great opportunities to visit and see wildlife and plants start another year at the refuge.  Very regular rains after the successful managed burns have resulted in better than average viewing of new plants starting the season. As of May 5 Prairie Smoke and even Lupines are starting to bloom along the drive.

Mahnomen Trail - April Burn Brings New Life

With managed burns finished throughout the refuge in April the new growth each day is remarkable. Ample rains at end of April brought an explosion of new life along this trail. Birds now seen and heard include Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Red Headed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Pheobe, Yellow Rumped and Palm Warblers, Lark Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Field Sparrows along with usual ducks, geese and Sandhill Cranes seen throughout the refuge.
Rover View1

Mahnomen Trail Tree Clearing Finished in March

With end of March the tree clearing on Mahnomen Hiking Trail is finished. This spring will bring about a very different look to this popular trail. Some of the interesting sights in April include reviewing Log Hotel for new residents and variety of mushroom examples on the trees standing and fallen.

Winterfest 2012 - Snowless

Over 1000 visitors to the refuge in February found unusual winter conditions. The spirits weren't dampened by lack of snow. FWS regional and national office personnel attended. Refuge Manager Anne Sittaur and biologist Lizzy Berkeley (pictured at Animal Tracks station) attended their final event as members of Sherburne staff. Both are off to new adventures in the FWS.


Sunday, November 6, 2011