Last Wednesday the world decided to try and give me a heart attack. All week the weather had been horrible, on and off rain and wind. We knew rain was on it's way, but we were trying to get as much done before it hit as possible. The thing about the prairie though, it's flat, really flat. Which means while you can see the black cloud of doom coming, it's hard to tell how far away it until it's right on top of you. We were in the middle of one of our study sites mist-netting a Henslow's Sparrow when we see the black cloud of doom headed our way.
"Okay" we think "We have a few more minutes to get this done". Cue the thunder. Now, I don't know about you, but my idea of fun is not standing in the middle of a flat field next to 8ft metal poles. But we had just caught a Henslow, so we couldn't leave just yet. Levi begins to frantically band the bird while I write down information and Keith starts dismantling the mist-nets. Right as we let the Henslow go we hear them, Tornado Sirens in the town three miles south of us. My heart started hammering. We all grabbed equipment and started back towards the truck. Instead of heading home, we decided it would be safer to head into Sedalia and find a place to take shelter.
This place ended up being Walmart. The three of us, along with about a hundred other shoppers spent an hour and a half hiding in the back of Walmart waiting for the all clear. It turns out, it probably would have been safer to go back to Cole Camp. An F2 tornado touched down less than two miles away from Walmart, tearing through several businesses, part of a neighborhood and a mobile home park. It also tossed semi-trucks parked at the truck stop all over the highway. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but I never wish to hear a tornado siren again.
|Indigo Bunting, a very pretty bright blue bird.|
|Ahhhh! It's a snaaaaake!|
|Pretty wild Iris.|
|Red-headed woodpecker teasing me. He flew away every time I tried to sneak up.|
|Cliff Swallow in flight.|
|Another Baltimore Oriole.|
|And more Cliff Swallows.|
|Adult bald eagle chilling after the storm that spawned the tornado.|
|Can you tell I like these birds?|
|Garter snake in the gravel road, trying to get itself run over.|
|Baby Meadowlarks just about to leave the nest.|
|Red-winged Blackbirds screaming for food.|
|Skipper on clover.|
|Yellow-Billed Cuckoo with a tasty snack.|
|He's probably going to take that bug to his little ones.|
|Rainbow Trout hatchery at Bennet Springs. If you waved your arm they all jumped.|
|Keith's first trout, he's so proud.|
|Swallowtail orgy! I could not figure out what was attracting all these butterflies.|
|The odd one of the bunch.|
|And finally, my newest nest, Common Yellowthroat. These eggs are tiny.|