Sunday, December 03, 2006

Birding in a Winter Wonderland


Getting ready to call it a day

The snowstorm that moved through southeastern Wisconsin on Friday decorated the landscape to a winter wonderland. Katie Fitzmier, Jesse Peterson and I planned to bird Lake Michigan from Sheboygan to Milwaukee on Saturday, so we were glad the storm was a day earlier. I love the way a fresh snowfall leaves trees and fields so beautifully decorated. While nothing compares to spring birding, there is something fun about bundling up for cold weather and finding neat birds to watch in December.

Our target birds included pretty much anything unusual along the lake, but I was really hoping for a Purple Sandpiper, having not seen one in three years. Our stops included Sheboygan's beaches, Andre-Kohler State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Port Washington, Doctors Park and Milwaukee's Lake Park. Though we had to save Purple Sandpiper for another time, we found some incredible birds. Katie got 5 life birds: Glaucous Gull, Long-tailed Duck, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Scoter and Red-throated Loon. She's presently at 505 on her ABA list and her 500th bird was the Pacific Loon on Lake Monona in Madison.

Here are all the bird species we found yesterday:

Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mallard
Canvas Back
Scaup (we didn't distinguish)
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Coot
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Hermit Thrush
European Starling
American Pipit
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch

I'm not planning on making any more birding trips for the remainder of the year, so it looks like I'll finish 2006 with 262 species - down from last year's 271. I did bump up my Wisconsin state list from 308 to 315 and added a few life birds as well. Still, the year isn't over! On separate note, I highly recommend Spenco RX series insole inserts. They really saved my feet yesterday!

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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