Thursday, May 29, 2014

Grobschmidt Park

Grobschmidt Park's Mud Lake.
Grobschmidt Park's Mud Lake.
Grobschmidt Park in Franklin (map) has become one of my favorites. It's 155 acres of mostly unimproved natural area including a 4 acre "Mud Lake", 2 marshes, two wooded areas, and two prairies. The county parks department has put out a few (3) benches to sit on, a single trash can, and a sign, but other than that, it's pretty much wild.

Grobschmidt Park walking trail.
Walking trail.
 A half mile gravel path goes around the lake and once in a while you will actually see someone walking on it. If you Google the park, you'll find only a few photos, and a little bit of history. It used to be farmland belonging to the former mayor of South Milwaukee, William Grobschmidt, and his grandson Chester was also a South Milwaukee mayor. Looking at old aerial photos, the lake used to be half as big, but development in the area changed the water drainage and enlarged it. I think it's better now than back in 1963 when the only aerial photo was taken. A small plane crashed here back in the '70s and a few children drowned in the lake back in the 50's.

Mud Lake at Grobschmidt Park
Mud Lake.
For me, it's a photographic playground teaming with wildlife. Officially (per eBird), we've identified 112 species of birds (just 45 for me so far), and I've also seen muskrat, turtles, and snakes. I know there's more, just gotta find 'em! Others say they have seen some big deer early in the mornings. I've seen terns, gulls, and herons pull out some nice fish, but few people fish here.

So, today I spent most of my time poking around the larger marsh. My point and shoot was giving me trouble, so no new audio clips today, however I did see this Swamp Sparrow who was making quite the racket. Others could be heard as well, but they were staying well hidden.
Swamp Sparrow at Grobschmidt Park
Swamp Sparrow

Along the walking path, this American Goldfinch 
was happily showing off his colors.

American Goldfinch at Grobschmidt Park
American Goldfinch

... and back by the lake, I just caught this Wood Duck flying away (they spook so easily), but I was so focused on getting a shot of him, I didn't even see this Great Blue Heron perched on this bird house! Another heron was hanging out with the geese out on the island, along with a bunch of turtles and a single sandpiper (not seen here).

Wood Duck and Great Blue Heron

Canada Geese and Great Blue Heron.

Overall , it was a quiet day, but the Swamp Sparrow was a new bird for me, so that made it all worth while. Hopefully, I'll get my point and shoot working again and get some more audio clips and who knows what all. Happy shooting!

Let's Go!

Despite the lack of postings here, I have been quite active shooting nature. Some get posted to Facebook, and a few to Flicker and eBird, but I can't post all the good stuff in those places, so HERE will be the main showcase of what I'm up to. My official eBird list has me at 66 bird species, which isn't even a spit into the wind for a real birder. Many people see more than that in one day! Part of the task is being able to recognize songs, which isn't necessarily impossible to learn, it does take some effort, and that's what I've been doing this past week.

I figured I'd start right in my backyard. Initially, I tried sticking a microphone out the window and recorded on my laptop. Works, but the songs are too quiet and the street noises are too loud. Then I got a brain storm and tried recording with my video camera. Eureka! It has a super sensitive microphone, no hum, and I can take it anywhere.

The back yard is a great place to practice, but there's the neighbor's air conditioning going on and off, kids hollering next door, dogs barking, and the eternal freeway noise. So, today I took it to the park and placed it on the ground, right on the edge of a marsh, walked away for an hour, and came back. Being mostly interested in the audio, I never even gave a thought of what video it might capture, so imagine my surprise when I played it back and saw 2 slugs and 3 snails slowly crawling up and down the leaves and twigs in front of the camera! Plenty of bird food available! I'll share video of that at a later date, but here's some bird song's I got today. Sounds like two birds, actually, and there still is some freeway noise (3 miles away!) but it's not bad. I haven't figured out what they are yet.

Here's the 'sonogram' of that clip which is simply how the audio looks on the software I use for editing (Cool Edit 2000):

Here's another clip of a Marsh Wren taken right next to "Mud Lake" at Grobschmidt Park in Franklin, WI

I have also found out that the little Sony camera makes great macro shots because the focal distance is so short, and there is a setting for automatic flash.
Check out this cool 'toad stool'. Not bad!

So, stay tuned, I've still got 9,000+ species of birds to photograph, 5,000 species of mammals, 16,000 species of mushrooms .....