Birdfreak and Veery spent Friday morning on a field trip to an Iowa birding hotspot, Maquoketa Caves State Park. This park is a gem not only for its breeding birds but for its amazing scenery. And of course its caves.
Maquoketa is pronounced roughly “Ma-ko-kah-da” but we kept calling it “Ma-coconut” as it sounded like that when others said it fast.
Unfortunately, the birding wasn’t that great, as the deep forest and cave-laden terrain was cold and the birds kept quiet. But, the caves were truly a wonderful experience as we clamored in the dark through what is called the Dance Hall.
The cave experience was new to us. We had been in caverns before but not in such a wet, dark, and low cave. We had some flashlights, but it was still dark. Unfortunately, we did not see any bats or other cool critters in the cave. In the rocky canyons a spunky Carolina Wren belted out an echoed song and investigated the gang of onlookers.
Our group had 29 birders (!!) so it was hard to find a lot of birds, especially since we had to go single-file for most of the way (narrow, rocky trails and caves). But we did find some nice birds at a prairie area including Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Phoebe, and a lot of Gray Catbirds.
Still to come – loads of conservation info gleaned from our workshops we attended and meeting one of the greats, Kenn Kaufman!!