Thursday, May 31, 2007

May Ends

The Dickcissel is the bird I generally identify as marking the end of spring migration. While they are already present at some areas of southern Wisconsin, they have yet to arrive at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The anticipation of spring migration is a powerful force and feeling for me, but the month of May quickly passes because I'm usually so busy birding, leading field trips, digiscoping, etc. In order to appreciate it fully, I feel like I need to pause and reflect back at all the amazing moments of watching the birds.

One of my goals for this spring was to build a data record of migratory birds Pheasant Branch Conservancy using eBird. Checking February 2007 through May 2007 this morning, I logged 146 bird species over the course of 52 outings at the conservancy. (Nearly all were stops in the morning or evening on my way to and from work). When including all Pheasant Branch reports by other eBird observers, a total of 165 species were recorded for the same time period. Looking through the complete list I noticed shorebird species I didn't find because I seldom check the ponds and springs on the north side of the conservancy during spring. Also reported at the conservancy but missed by me were Acadian Flycatcher and Connecticut Warbler. One birder even found Willets (yet to be entered into eBird) at a pond on the north side, a first for Pheasant Branch as far as I know.

This spring was very reminiscent of my birding habits before the Wisconsin Big Year I did in 2004. Pheasant Branch Conservancy has always been my primary birding location, and it continues to be relieving not having to feel like I need to zip around all over the state to see great birds. Because they are such beautiful natural areas and located in neighboring counties to Dane, other stops this spring included Goose Pond Sanctuary, Baxter's Hollow, Cook Arboretum, Spring Green Prairie, Marbleseed Prairie and Brooklyn Wildlife Area. Plus, I led a few field trips at Horicon Marsh for the birding festival there. I visited Nine Springs only once - yet another reason my shorebird observations for 2007 are pretty sparse. However, this was a small sacrifice in exchange for a detailed summary of spring migratory birds for Pheasant Branch.

Dickcissel image © 2007 Mike McDowell

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