Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bob White!

The Blackacre Nature Preserve, near Jeffersontown in eastern Jefferson County, KY, protects 170 acres from a farm dating back to 1785. Part of their mission is to re-establish the native Kentucky grasses and other plants that would have been abundant in those days. A butterfly walk on the grounds was advertised in the paper on Friday morning, and approximate 80 people showed up this afternoon, overwhelming Alan Nations, the naturalist on staff.

The wind was a bit stiff, and the butterflies decided to wait it out somewhere else for the most part. After the official walk ended, Bob Lenning, Chris Knopf, Dick and I decided to walk around a bit on our own. We had the thrill of our lifetimes. Bob said he will remember it as "The Day We Saw the Quail!" When I was a girl, we heard Bob Whites whistling in the neighboring farm fields on a regular basis, but I never saw one. Now, I hear them far less, since their habitat is filled with houses and shopping centers.

As we walked along the edge of a large field, we heard a Bob White in the grass, and even saw it stick its head out for a second, then disappear again. On the way back, we heard two different birds whistling their names, and stopped to see if we could join the conversation. Suddenly, we saw some small brown birds peering out from the grass. Is it safe? They decided it was, and walked under the fence for a dust bath in the horses' feeding area. This is a community dust bath and they were joined by many of the neighborhood female Red Wing Blackbirds.

This pair left for the field again, and the second pair came out for their bath. Bob commented that they probably come out like this about the same time every day, and we should return for more observation. The second pair went off under the other fence when finished with their bath. So often, we only look for the male bird, since it is more easily identified. Today, the female Red Wing Blackbirds were abundant, and the female Bob White (Bobbi White?) came right out to be admired too. We even caught their Sunday Afternoon stroll as a movie. Watch how they know just where the break in the fence is. This is a path they must take regularly. What a thrill!

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