Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sky Fishing at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

As with any good fishing story, this one starts at sunrise. The Friday morning kick-off of Midwest Birding I was the local guide for Paul Baicich and Wayne Petersen. Oh yeah, throw me in the brier patch.

The sun was just creeping into the sky as we drove out on the dikes to meet the experts in shorebird banding. For the botany lovers, this vegetation is your basic wetland fare: Marsh-mallow- Althaea officinalis, Smartweeds- Polygonum sp., Cat-tails- Tphya sp., and Beggar's-ticks Biden cernua dominated this scene.

Clad in high waders, Tom Kashmer carefully works his way out to the sky nets. This scientific expedition is is all about collecting data on the comings and goings of shorebirds, but first, they must be caught in the nets.

Once the birds are safely retrieved from the nets, Tom and Tom gather the details, weight, wing length, fat-reserves and so and on. The bird receives a souvenir band, as the guys pledge to love, honor and cherish....

Tom Barlett holds a Wilson's Snipe for our inspection. One never tires of seeing birds close-up, details we know only as blurry field-marks are wonderfully clear at this distance.

The dowitchers and snipe have amazingly flexible bills. It comes in very handy while probing in the mud for tasty treats.

After the paparazzi finish with photos, (Bird Chick in the foreground) the birds are released unharmed and sent on their merry way.
Thanks to Tom and Tom for this marvelous adventure, and Dana Bolin and Micheal Bolton (the Ottawa census guy, not the singer) for this opportunity to visit the dikes for some sky fishing and a morning of a lifetime.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post...great to read from a weedpickers Cheryls perspective...LOL...the souvenir death do u part band..and the Birdchick paparazzi.
    nice post..
    did not know how flexible those bills were...cool!