Slippery Rock, P.a. – The Tweetspeak team made our way back to Moraine State Park and Jennings Educational Center to see some of the new landscape and try to spot some of the new arrivals for the summer season. During the first trip the weather was an ice cold 25 degrees with a heavy overcast and torrential rainfall the entire time. The experience the second time around though was more bearable. The temperature was a mild 60 degrees although there was a slight overcast there was minimal rain. The habitats changed dramatically in the time from our first visit to our second which attracted some new tenants to the property. We saw some summer arrivals like:
- Eastern Bluebirds
- Turkey Vultures
- Tree Sparrows
All of these species were very active flyers while the group walked through the prairie at the park. The prairie in our first visit was flooded because of the immense amount of rainfall we had that day so we did not actually get to walk through that habitat. From where we were standing I could see the empty bushes still trying to recover from the winter and brush that you could peer right through, not a good hiding spot for the birds. During our second trip in our walkthrough of the prairie there was a noticeable difference. The brush was cut down in a more controlled manner, the bushes were more full and the brush was denser. This was a perfect habitat for the summer migrants that we saw which explains why they were awfully energetic.
We made our way through the prairie and into the wooded area of the park and spotted some more new species to us. We caught a Pileated Woodpecker in our binoculars which we haven’t yet spotted, this bird was massive compared to the other species of woodpeckers we have seen and studied. It was flying from tree to tree on both sides of the path we were on and it was a magnificent sight. I could remember from the first visit that the trees in the forest area were almost barren. The leaves were still dead, some new buds forming on the branches, but still not a flourishing ecosystem yet. The second time around was much different, the leaf out dates must have passed by that time because the trees were rich and covered in green leaves. Some wildflowers were beginning to grow as our guide from the Audubon Society was pointing them out as a good food source for some of the summer migrants in the area.
As we passed through the forest habitat and into the wetlands they were also considerably different from our initial experience. The first trip showed us dead trees everywhere, the water levels were extremely high because of the constant rain, the water plants were not flourishing because of the icy temperatures. The wetlands were just not a suitable environment for birds which is a main reason why we did not see much activity the first trip. Again, the second trip was tremendously different in terms of the layout and bird activity. The water levels were normal so it was much easier to walk through the wetlands. The water plants were much more prominent in the swampier areas and the birds were loving it. The activity was astounding while we walked through the wetlands. We heard endless calls and songs, there were birds flying overhead, across our path and even on trees right above the group. One thing I noticed was the willow trees that were more abundant this time around. While speaking with my professor I learned that these trees were perfect nesting sites for Yellow Warblers which is another summer migrant in the area. We never spotted any on our trip but I bet they are more active as the summer goes on.
The main takeaway from the two trips to Jennings was that the second was much more useful and informative. The birds were more active; the ecosystem was more flourished and the weather was much better to say the least. However, the two trips did give our group a much deeper understanding of Moraine State park and its circulation of bird species in the changing seasons.