Monday, May 11, 2009

Week of May 4- May 10, 2009

The strong winds have continued to bombard the park this week. Fortunately, these winds have not brought any more wildfires close to the headquarters. We are still not safe however, from the threat of wildfires this spring because many portions of peat bog are still smoldering and the winds have been carrying the smoke across the wetlands all week, giving the park a hazy overtone. The areas that were burned several weeks ago are now beginning to show signs of renewal. Green grass is sprouting in the charred earth and the park has taken on the look of a golf course.

Among the green grass are various wildflowers.

The birds have also been utilizing these recently burned areas. You can scare up several types of pipits and buntings in these open areas, like this little bunting pictured below:

During the middle of the week, I was out wandering in these burned areas when I stumbled across not one, but two badgers. Both were busy foraging and with the wind blowing in my favor, I was able to approach them within several meters without them being aware of my presence.Galia, another biologist at the park, gave a tour and lecture to a class of visiting University students this week. The students attended the Teachers Training University in Blago.

The frog eggs that were laid in the wetlands several weeks ago have hatched. There are now little tadpoles swimming in the shallower portions of the wetlands! We took several of the tadpoles to the nature center, so that the visiting school children could watch their development.

The highlight of the week, however, had to be the flock of Siberian cranes that came for a short stopover on the way to their breeding grounds. A small flock of Siberian cranes have been noted each year at the park for the last four springs. It is probable that these birds have always utilized the park during migration, but given the parks size and the short stopover time, they may not have been detected before then. This year we were anticipating their visit sometime and mid-May and therefore we remained vigilant. The group of ten birds were seen circling the park during the late morning hours of May 9th.

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