On August 26, 2017, 15 young birders, parents, grandparents, and volunteers were welcomed with a pleasant late summer morning at Swan Lake State Park near Carroll. Carroll County Conservation Naturalist Matt Wetrich, our guide and local expert, welcomed us to the park and provided quick tips on using binoculars and bird guides. We had an exciting morning planned with several different stops within the park, and we anxiously started off.
Our first stop involved a search for woodpeckers and various songbirds in an open forest area near the campground. We quickly heard Blue Jays, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and White-breasted Nuthatch. We headed down to a fishing pier on the lake, and once there were greeted with a flock of Purple Martins. After receiving fleeting looks of a Red-headed Woodpecker, we were finally able to get great looks at one perched on dead limb low in a nearby tree. We also flushed a Common Nighthawk from the tree, a very exciting experience! A bit further down the trail, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Kingbird were perched in the open allowing us to carefully study these two closely-related species. This was a great stop!
After a quick stop near the lake to view a Baltimore Oriole nest, we headed up to the Bald Eagle display and nearby trail. At this stop, Matt shared with us the story of the two resident eagles at Swan Lake State Park. Both eagles were injured and are now permanently housed at the park for educational purposes. We took this opportunity to learn a bit about bird conservation and about the important parts of responsible decisions, knowledge and caring. Afterwards, we headed down the trail to a large brush pile. Although quiet initially, the brush pile produced many good birds including Indigo Buntings, a House Wren, a Wilson’s Warbler, and both Blue and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. A Cooper’s Hawk and several Turkey Vultures were soaring overhead as we searched the brush for more birds.
We finished the morning visiting the swan pond, home of a captive pair of Trumpeter Swans, and then the new Thelen Bird Sanctuary and bird blind. A Hairy Woodpecker visited the feeders while in the blind, and a Belted Kingfisher flew low over the lake as we compiled our morning list. Both were great birds to finish a fun morning!
We are very appreciative of Matt’s leadership and expertise on the trip. You can view photos from our trip here and our species list here. Many thanks to all those who attended!