Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pelicans and famous children

Couldn't miss PelicanFest today.

Down at Coralville lake, a number of bird and wildlife organizations put together a little festival to celebrate the migration of white pelicans through Iowa on their way to the gulf coast where they hang out in winter.

As soon as I heard about this, I knew I wanted to go. I love seeing pelicans fly overhead--and they do here, twice a year, going up or down the Mississippi flyway on their way to summer or winter residences. They fly in big Vs like geese, but they flap their wings less, and they're white with black wingtips. An awesome sight.

Often, I've seen them on our lake here in town, Cedar Lake. If they're there, I can even get a glimpse of them from my office!

I was glad we have Cedar Lake here because the pelican sightings were not great at the festival! The pelicans were on Coralville lake . . . but on the other shore from us, about a mile away! There were scopes set up so we could see them, but it was less satisfying than seeing them close up here.

Still, it was great being there, with other people who think pelicans are worth a festival! We saw some people from the local raptor center. They had wings from raptors that had died--beautiful, and a great way to see the feathers and shapes up close.
There was a big huggable pelican.
And a woman with some snakes from a nature center--wish I'd gotten a photo of the beautiful fox snake she had.

Lots of birding groups were there--Audubon groups and other ornithology groups--and I got lots of web addresses so I can see what they're up to. I'm especially excited about a listserv that lets people know what's been sighted where.

One of my favorite displays, though, was by the Prairie States mushroom group. I recognized them because we met a few of the mushroomers once a long time ago on a hike. I told the person who was there, and I told him I'd written a column about it for the local paper. The mushroom group (I think it was that guy!) had asked for permission to print it in their newsletter :-)

"Oh yes! I remember meeting you. I was at the Woodpecker Trail on my knees looking at a mushroom, and a little boy about 5 years old came up to me and said 'what are you doing?' I said 'I'm looking at this mushroom.' And he said 'That's a polypore!'"

That little boy was either Robbie or Eli!

As we drove home, I hoped that my boys will remember those early experiences in Nature and make the natural world a part of their lives. There are so many other options now--fancy phones, computers, the internet . . . will they stay in touch with nature?

And about an hour after I got back, Eli called here on his cell phone. He and Chris had "rescued" a baby rabbit that had gotten scared by a cat and run into the street. It couldn't get back up the curb and was panicking, so the boys scooped it up. It was tiny; it fit into Eli's hand.

They brought it home, and we placed it under a bush in our yard. We figured it was in shock from seeing the cat and from having trouble with the curb. The boys went back inside to get a piece of fleece to cover it, and by the time they got back, it was gone.