Thursday, March 30, 2006

More spring arrivals...

NEXRAD showed substantial bird migration throughout the eastern half of the United States last night. What perfect timing because I wasn’t on the schedule for work today! I made a trip to Nine Springs and Lake Farm Park to see what new arrivals I could find. I saw many first-of-the-year birds, like Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpiper and both yellowlegs species. There was so much more and I birded for over five hours before heading home... and it’s just going to get better.

I once asked my colleague Ben what he thought was greater – the anticipation of spring migration, or experiencing spring migration itself. I know this may seem sort of freaky but I look forward to it so much that once its here it seems to just zoom by and is over before I know it. I suppose that’s just the nature of anticipation when it’s something wondrous.

I remember one time Ben and I went to Cook Arboretum near Janesville in May and shared one of the most incredible birding experiences either of us ever had. I think we tallied something like 25 warbler species and another 30 or more songbirds in a little over an hour (I think I have the species list somewhere). Then there was the time with Chuck and Delia when a Worm-eating warbler came right by our feet at Baxter’s Hollow – so amazing. I’ll never forget the cold snap of May 12th, 2002 and the fallout in Pheasant Branch that ensued. It was a stressful day for the birds but provided some of the best looks at warblers I’ve ever had.

It’s the standout experiences that are easy to remember, but many spring days past, though thoroughly enjoyed (like today), were forgotten because I didn’t write anything down or take any pictures to remember them by. I suppose that’s another reason why I keep this birding blog going – chronicling my own field journal.

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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