As soon as I turned off the engine, I heard the sliding song of a Prairie Warbler. While not one of the targeted species, at least it was something. The grassland survey has been a disappointment so far. The route maps were vague, and the variety and number of species were so low that I was disheartened. Determined to persevere, and finished what I had started, I grabbed my pad and pencil, got out of the car, and sucked in a lungful of the aroma of the country: of grass, and cow manure and the sweet heady scent of the flowering Black Locusts. Ah, fresh country air. I waited the requisite two minutes reveling in the big sky, then started to listen.
From the stream flowing through the field a Bullfrog boomed, drowning out every other sound. I listened in vain for any bird song. I walked across the road hoping to put some distance between my ears and his voice; but it was only marginally better. I tried tuning him out. Red-wing Blackbirds were everywhere hopping up and down in the high grass; Song Sparrows sang; (Bullfrog) Common Yellowthroat; (Bullfrog, again, egads were there more than one?) a Carolina Wren chortled from somewhere near the Bullfrog; a Catbird mewed in a hedge row; (Bullfrog) a Yellow Warbler sang sweetly; (Bullfrog). Grrr, that dratted Bullfrog was getting on my nerves! I crossed behind the car thinking my movement would startle the frog into silence. I peered into the shadowed water. I didn’t see it. Or hear it. I guess the ploy worked. As flash of yellow caught my eye as a Meadowlark landed in a tall roadside Cedar tree; I made a note, finally one of the target birds. Hearing the faint buzz of a Grasshopper Sparrow, I whirled around to listen and look behind me. Off in the distance wafted the bouncing song of a Field Sparrow. I made more notes. I glanced at my watch; my time was up. As I walked back to the car, the Bullfrog started to bellow again. I smiled to myself in a childish way and thought “Ha, ha, fooled you.” It will be interesting to see if he is still at it in a few weeks when I come back for Survey part II.