Monday, July 09, 2007

Southbound Shorebirds

There hasn't been much bird news for me to share lately. Last Monday my 96 Geo Prizm took a fatal hit from a delivery truck that backed up into it, so I had to deal with a body shop, insurance companies, car rental agencies and auto dealerships. It wasn't a super hard hit, but enough of an impact to do $2,600.00 in damage to the front of my car. It's totaled - it really doesn't take much. One entire light assembly was destroyed, the radiator was bent inward, damaged front bumper, support, side panel, radiator fan, etc. – it adds up. All is now well and I went for a Toyota Corolla for my new “point (a) to point (b)” commuter car.

Early this morning I did a 12-mile bike ride on country roads between Waunakee and Middleton and found a Solitary Sandpiper foraging at a drainage pond along Woodland Drive. With the lack of rain lately it's amazing the pond is still there. Birders in Ashland and Horicon are reporting shorebird species such as Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowticher, Wilson's Phalarope and more – fall migration is already underway. By this time next month, warblers from the north will begin trickling into Pheasant Branch Conservancy and in September the sparrows will move through.

In some ways, for me, fall migration is so much more enjoyable than the spring. Southbound birds don't seem quite as hurried and stopover for a longer period of time, especially sparrows. Plus, I'm obligated to fewer field trips and can spend a great deal more time watching and photographing birds at a more relaxed pace. Though I'm pretty good with identifying birds by song, I'm even better at identifying them by plumage – even those confusing fall warblers. Until then, I'll at least try to post a couple of updates a week, but look for more activity sometime mid August.

Solitary Sandpiper © image 2007 Mike McDowell

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