In general, mid-day nature walks are not very productive during the warmer months, especially if you hope to encounter a good variety of wildlife. But when you're locked out of the house and your spouse is not due home for two hours, what's a guy to do?
So I headed down to Forum Nature Area, in Columbia, and sauntered along the two-mile loop; fortunately, my decision was rewarded. Chipping sparrows, the first I have encountered this season, were abundant along the tree line while eastern bluebirds and eastern phoebes hunted on the central meadow; northern cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers and white-throated sparrows were especially noisy in the floodplain woodlands. Cricket frogs and leopard frogs called from the shallows of the seasonal lake and American toads trilled from an adjacent pond. Blue-winged teal, mallards, song sparrows and turkey vultures were also encountered but the highlight of my visit was a yellow-throated warbler feeding in a grove of sycamores; close enough for easy identification, he didn't seem to mind my presence and I watched him for at least ten minutes.
Completing the loop, I headed home, having burned most of my penalty period. As I discovered today, many animals, fueled by reproductive hormones, are less selective about their activity schedule in spring and, when opportunity strikes, a mid-day nature walk is not a bad choice.