Thursday, May 21, 2009

Week of May 11 – 17th 2009

We started the week off by celebrating Bird Migration Day. Bird Migration Day is a day in which we remember and celebrate the birds who have rejoined us in the northland from their wintering grounds down south. Nearly fifty school children from nearby villages joined us for the celebration. The children learned about the amazing feats migratory birds go through to arrive here as well as the biology of migration. The day was filled with games, movie clips, and lectures. The highlight for many students however, was being able to get a close view of a migratory Siberian Rubythroat that was captured just before their arrival for some of our studies. The children were able to appreciate the bird up close before we released back into the wild.

Although the wind was a bit strong several cranes and geese flew about periodically giving those children lucky enough to look up in time a great show….

The park has also been blessed with some of the most phenomenal days that I have experienced as of yet. The weather has been in the high seventies and everywhere you look there are wildflowers in bloom and bird songs fill the air.

In mid-week the night was suddenly alive with the sounds of breeding Mongolian Toads. They have made their way to the surface and congregated in some of the standing water in the wetlands. Their chorus definitely made one realize that Muraviovka Park has reached the pinnacle of its grandeur.

Other amphibians are also out and about in the Amur region of Russia. I encountered several Siberian salamanders on excursion to a nearby forest. Although these animals used to be common at the park, the changing climate has made them very rare within our borders and it is speculated that they may now be locally extinct here.

The highlight of this week however, is that many of the birds have gone to nest!! While many birds are still sitting eggs like this Azure-winged magpie:

Other birds already have babies, like this Oriental turtle-dove!

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