Monday, September 1, 2008

It's Not a Warbler, But It Will Do

Saturday morning there was a fallish hint, so I decided to hit the Chat Trail in Lake Wichita Park. If there is any stretch of the city trail system likely to yield good birds, it's the Chat Trail. It is a short gravel pathway (about 1/4 mile) that runs between the parking lot of the youth football fields and meets up with the main trail coming off the Lake Wichita dam, near the barrow pit. There is plenty of water (most of the time), some marshy area, and a small patch of deciduous woods. It is a well-known spot for warblers during migration season.

Well, I saw some decent birds, but not many and no fall visitors. I did see a Sainson's Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, a wild turkey, mallards, various doves, blue jays, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, and grackles. Not horrible, but not what I was looking for. I was feeling a little bummed about it and decided to check the barrow pit for waders. No waders, but as I was scanning the shoreline, 4 deer came out of the mesquite brush in the far side to move down to the water for a drink. One was a fawn, more than half the size of the does he was with. He kept trying to get the others in the group to play, charging at them and then springing back and running in a circle. You could tell Mom and the others in the group were more interested in keeping an eye out for possible predators. I got to watch them for a few minutes, before two bikers came across the bridge, talking to one another loudly and the deer jumped back into the brush. The bikers didn't have a chance to see them.

It is amazing to me how an animal the size of a deer can appear so suddenly and disappear just as quickly, especially in fairly open scrub/mesquite. It is also a wonder how so much wildlife can exist so closely to a fairly populated area. In Lake Wichita park, there are deer, beaver and bobcat as well as the more common raccoon, possum, armadillo, etc. I haven't seen coyote in Lake Wichita Park, but they are not all that far away. I have seen them near my house in town and along the highways near the edge of town. And last year a friend of mine had a porcupine in his yard.

So I didn't see any fall warblers, but sometimes it's OK not to get what you expect. Little surprises like the deer make wonderful memories.

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