Date: 5/5/18 3:37 pm
From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...>
Today was the Saturday morning portion of Birders Weekend at Devilís Den State Park; a fun morning, to say the least. This is an annual event held in the park during the first weekend in May. Our group slow-walked 1.5 miles, including Camp Area A, a bit of Fossil Flats Trail, usually close to Lee Creek that after recent rain is running full and talkative. We saw 60 species: 5 flycatchers, 4 vireos, and 12 warblers: Tennessee (2), Nashville (1), Northern Parula (4), Chestnut-sided (2), Magnolia (1), Black-throated Green (2), Yellow-throated (2), Black-and-white (3), American Redstart (1), Ovenbird (2), Kentucky (1), Common Yellowthroat (2).

Our group included birding vets and birding novices. The park was packed full of people. A young couple with 5 kids, a scout troop, a bunch of people from Kansas camping together, people on mountain bikes and Harleys. It is all a reminder that our public lands are precious and increasingly limited. The Den was BIG when built during Great Depression, starting in 1933, but 85 years later, by comparison, SMALL and on a fine spring day, CROWDED.
Thus the need for more parks, more Devilís Dens -- unless some tasteless, increasing de-birded and homogenized version of the outdoors is OK. Not OK for me. I want the REAL Ozarks, with real Scarlet Tanagers.

I am reminded that while our main business this morning was identifying and counting birds, we must also remain vigilant advocates for public lands.

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