(This post is a trifle late to print.)
A couple weekends ago–on July 11th–we had planned to spend the day in central Iowa on an Iowa Young Birders trip, but the trip was cancelled due to stormy weather. We were already packed up, in the car, & on the road when we got the cancellation call & since we’d already blocked the whole day out for the trip, we figured we’d head west anyway.
First stop–a birding spot in the southern part of our county (Benton) that Coralee & I have been meaning to visit for several months. Officially it’s called the Iowa River Corridor Central Wildlife Management Area-Hwy 21 Access. It’s a large hodge-podge swath of various public lands cobbled together along the river, surrounded by agricultural fields. We picked up a fantastic county bird–Dickcissel. It looks a lot like an Eastern Meadowlark, but smaller and more sparrow-like. We counted 5 separate individuals & all were singing loudly & beautifully near the road. Photos below were digiscoped by Coralee through binoculars, so a bit blurry.
We had planned to eat lunch in Ames, Iowa (home of Iowa State University) at the Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.–one of the first places Brian & I went on a date together in the spring of 2000. The kids do not particularly like the pizza nor the atmosphere & always roll their eyes when we dine there (about once a year), but, hey, we were young & fun once, too! We arrived in Ames a bit early for lunch, so went over to ISU’s Reiman Gardens. The butterfly house was the highlight of the stop without a doubt. June LOVES butterflies & could have lived in the building, I’m sure.
We then toured the outside gardens for about an hour. The kids loved the current exhibit–InTREEguing TREEhouses. According to the website, visitors can “[e]xperience the beauty of the natural world from a new perspective with this interactive outdoor display featuring treehouses scattered throughout Reiman Gardens. Each playhouse showcases the talents of local architects and artists, and are inspired by a unique cultural or social event.”
World’s Largest CONCRETE Gnome!
Our last stop was the site of the planned Iowa Young Birders trip. We didn’t get much chance to bird here due to the insane heat & humidty by mid-afternoon & also the proximity to June’s naptime. It appears to be an excellent birding hotspot, we’ll have to visit again with more time (& less heat!).
I think we made the most of a day interrupted! 🙂