Sunday, December 31, 2006

And that's it for 2006...

Many of my birding experiences from 2006 will be fondly remembered. By far the most exciting was seeing, hearing and photographing Kirtland's Warblers in Wisconsin. The habitat was perfect, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and I was with great birding friends to share in the experience. These birds were kept off the listserv, but they were not a secret.

My Wisconsin year totals have decreased for the second consecutive year. I'm finishing with 263 year birds (down from 271 in 2005). For the first time since I've kept a year list, I missed Olive-sided Flycatcher and Common Redpoll. I joked with Nolan Pope late last spring that if he wanted to see an Olive-sided Flycatcher that he better not bird with me. The following day he went to another birding spot and found one. I figured I still had a good chance of finding one during fall migration, but nope.

My new birds for 2006 were:

Glossy Ibis
Sharp-tailed Grouse
King Rail
Long-tailed Jaeger
Pomarine Jaeger
Little Gull
Kirtland's Warbler

Though I got quite a few nice bird pictures in 2006, I digiscoped far less. The longer I do this photography thing, the easier it is to recognize days I should stay home. One of my favorite photographs from 2006 is this Lark Sparrow from Spring Green Prairie - a perfect stakeout in great light. I figured one of the sparrows would return to a particular fence post, so I used the little shelter at the trailhead as a blind and waited.

My other favorite digiscoped bird image is this male Yellow Warbler taken at Governor Nelson's State Park in May. I walked up Woodland Trail and found the male and a female just to my left. I knelt down on the trail and captured the partially concealed female with the first exposure and the male popped out on a tall perch for the very next shot - two birds, two exposures. Most likely nesting (or nest building) birds, so I left them in a hurry.

This past year I took more time to learn wildflowers and have started a pretty decent collection of photographs of them. Like birding, one of the best ways to learn them is to have an expert along, right Sylvia? Spring isn't so far off and it won't be long and the three of us, Dottie, will be walking the stream corridor of Pheasant Branch looking for that Black-throated Blue and Hooded Warbler.

Souls of Nature

I am eyes fixed upon stars
And know how unattainable they are
I am footsteps in wet leaves
And realize I'm already a part of the heavens
I'm the object that small, dark eyes look upon
I'm that which they fly from
But I'm the hand that reaches out
And would try to save them should they fall
Smiling at the corners from a spring song
I am their unknown hope cheering them on
I am ears filtering out the noise
Listen to dialogue unchanged over a millenium
I am the eyes that gaze upon this landscape
Trying to imagine what has passed
I am a heart the pounds to my explorers gait
And lungs that fill with brisk morning air
I am a body slowly aging
A soul of nature narrating my time
A mind that knows no matter how it ends
It will have been all too brief
Sharing nature's glory with my friends

Happy New Year - see you in 2007!

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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