Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gone Birding!

(click on image for more artwork by Robin Street-Morris)

Yesterday was a soft day – warm temperatures, gentle rain and virtually no wind. While I enjoy putting on my poncho and birding in the rain, it usually means no pictures as my camera isn't waterproof. Lighting under such conditions isn't conducive for fast shutter speeds and I like my digiscoping to come easy (ha ha, yeah right). Still, birding in the rain seems to make the whole experience more tropical and isolated...most bikers, joggers and dog walkers will stay home when there's rainy weather. But ya know, sometimes I just like to go birding without all the added stress that comes with digiscoping!

Walking down the corridor trail of Pheasant Branch, I found Charles Naeseth pointing up at a bird. Then I heard it...za-za-zha-zah-zhreeeee! It was a Cerulean Warbler foraging in the wooded canopy just across the stream from him. Lucky for us the warbler eventually foraged lower, came over to our side of the stream and gave us excellent views. Through low numbers, Charles and I tallied about a dozen warbler species for the morning. Firsts of the year included Baltimore Oriole, Wood Thrush, American Restart and Ovenbird.

Last evening's migration and this morning's sunlight produced an even greater surprise for a few lucky birders. For most of the morning I had been birding with Sylvia, Dottie, Delia, Karen and Mark. Since the south stream corridor had fewer birds than the previous day, I suggested checking an area on the north side of the conservancy called the “overlook” parking lot. The habitat there is more of open savannah with dense brush and trees along the edges.

Upon arrival I jokingly said, "I'll leave my camera in the car, guaranteeing we'll find something super cool!" Moments later our group became stunned by a distinct and rarely heard birdsong for Wisconsin chik-a-puurrreeer-chik! There was a collective gasp – we froze in our tracks because we all knew it was a White-eyed Vireo! What a great bird – only the third time I've seen one in the conservancy.

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