by Darcy Thomas
On a drizzly day in May, a group of twelve from Flathead and Mission Audubon met at the University of Montana’s field station in Yellow Bay to learn about ecology and research of the Flathead Watershed, hear the famous food web disaster of Mysis shrimp, and enjoy a quick picnic before tromping around the trails on the station property to bird watch.
Our day started with a fascinating classroom presentation by Associate Director Tom Bansak. We learned about the beginnings of the station in 1899, past and current research, changes in native vs. introduced fish species over the years, and about the station’s monitoring and education programs. The Bio Station does work all over the globe!
Tom then led the group on a tour of the labs and other facilities at the station before setting us free to wander. After eating sandwiches at the picnic tables by the lake we hiked to the end of the peninsula, then around the loop trail where we encountered bear scat. We missed seeing the nesting Merlins but did see Bald Eagle, Osprey, Canada Goose, Vaux’s Swift, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, and Warbling Vireos.
This was a fun, educational field trip which gave us a great appreciation for the valuable research accomplished by the station. If you are sorry you missed the field trip, you may want to put a reminder on your calendar for next summer to participate in one of the events the station hosts for the public. They offer a research cruise as well as an open house, that you do not want to miss!