Winged Wednesday XIV: Sightings Log
The Wells Reserve Visitor Center has kept a wildlife sightings log for at least a decade. While updating the form today (it's now labeled Nature Observations), I pulled out the stack of sheets that have accumulated since May 1996.
Birds dominate visitors' sightings, though deer, weasel, garter snake, otter, praying mantis, mosquito, and other animals found their way in, too.
How reliable are those bird sightings? Hard to say. Not everyone who sees something knows exactly what to call it, but the report is probably okay; "blue hering" is a good example.
But what of the "yellow head blackbird" seen in the fields? It might truly have been a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but based on the misspelling Bobolink could be a better bet.
Cerulean Warbler? Prothonotary Warbler? Golden Eagle? All possibilities. Unfortunately, the wildlife sightings log holds no details for evaluating any of these rarities.
The vast majority of reports are expected species at expected seasons. Still, the collection of notes could bolster our knowledge of migrating, overwintering, and easy-to-see birdlife. These shared observations from scores of people may help us to better understand changes in the Reserve bird populations over time. Keep 'em coming!