Another Saturday and I’m up at 4AM so Mike and I can make our 4th Annual Goose Pond Fourth of July Trip looking for species not usually seen in the Johnson County area – MARSH WREN, LEAST BITTERN, LEAST TERNS, COMMON GALLINULE, and BLACK-NECKED STILTS.
The weather cooperated but the habitat, not so much. Unlike past years the water level was low providing limited habitat for Least Bitterns and Common Gallinules. And where there is water, vegetation has grown to the water’s edge giving limited shorebird access. Compare this year’s photos to last years, when the water level was higher.
The water levels are low as seen on GP5N.
There is still enough water in MPE2 for the Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons to thrive. We counted 75 Great Egrets in this group alone.
And enough habitat around to make the day enjoyable.
The Least Terns were feeding around Tern Island.
A Northern Bobwhite ran across the road. I initially thought it was one of the several small rabbits that kept zigzagging on the road.
We also saw a coyote and a mink family, this being one of the three.
And of course the Black-necked Stilts kept a close eye on our every move.
The highlight of the day was finding other shorebirds besides the Black-necked Stilts and Killdeer.
On the first stop of the day at MPE2 I saw three large shorebirds in this small pool with the Great Egrets. Through the scope we could make out they were Greater Yellowlegs.
We moved on to other areas but in late morning I bushwhacked out to the pool for a closer look.
Showing the range of the Nikon Coolpix P900 I’m still a distance away from the Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.
Then out of nowhere 4 Short-billed Dowitchers appeared. Beautiful in their breeding plumage.
Not sure if they were in the high grass??
A group photo but like school children they wouldn’t all stand next together for the photo – Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Black-necked Stilt.
All in all, our Annual Goose Pond Trip was good though it was quieter than years past. We missed on Least Bittern and Common Gallinule, plus no Bell’s Vireo or Sedge Wrens. Hopefully the heavy rain predicted for today will help bring some of the habitat back to life.