TRNP has record numbers of species and visitors during walkThe scene in movies on an early morning campground is always peaceful and quiet.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The scene in movies on an early morning campground is always peaceful and quiet.
Eileen Andes, Theodore Roosevelt National Park chief of interpretation, said that was not the case at all during the 58th annual birdwalk Sunday.
“I’m not a morning person to be out at the park at 6:30 in the morning and be in an area like the campground that’s near the river. It’s amazing how many bird sounds you hear,” Andes said. “It’s not actually a quiet place, it’s quite noisy.”
TRNP saw more than 100 people including park staff and people from around the country, which is near a record high, gathered outside for the nice weather and bird spotting.
“It was quite an amazing event with so many folks,” said Valerie Naylor, the TRNP superintendent. “It was a very beautiful day in the South Unit.
“We had people from all over. We had a number of park visitors that came from as far away as the east coast. We had a number of park staff members and people participate from North Dakota. It was a wide cross-section of people counting birds.”
Naylor said it was important to note that this event has been sponsored for the last 58 years by Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, which is a non profit group that supports the national park.
The visitors split up into four groups headed by group leaders, who were expert bird watchers.
“It was great, because my group leader was somebody who recognizes birds by sound very well,” Andes said. “To listen with him and hear the different bird sounds, it was fun and a great learning experience.”
With many pairs of eyes watching for birds, the number of species counted at 56, which is the highest number of species seen since 1988.
“Unlike last year, we didn’t see anything that had never been before,” Naylor said. “We did see a lot of great birds.”
The type of birds spotted during the walk included golden eagles, many different types of warblers, sparrows, buntings and water birds. Naylor said there are many different factors that contributed to seeing 56 species.
“It’s always hard to say, but I’m sure the nice weather contributed,” she said. “Then having so many observers also helped.”
Andes said having more than 100 people out looking at birds show the attraction that people feel about enjoying nature.
“I think it’s speaks to the fact that birding is a very popular activity to do outside,” she said. “I think it’s something that appeals to everybody. We had people who were older, younger, a Girl Scout troop and everybody learned something.
“Birding is something that when you get interested in it, it takes a while to learn. It’s something that you can do for your entire life.”
Though not everyone at the walk was an expert bird watcher, Andes said there were plenty of people, who were willing to share information about birds.
“Birders really like to share their knowledge with other people,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for people that want to learn about birds to go out with more experienced birders.”