Thursday, September 20, 2007

Birding in the Fog

Pheasant Branch early this morning

Waunakee was crisp and clear, but I found Pheasant Branch enshrouded in a dense fog this morning as I got closer to Middleton. I wondered how migrating birds could see the fields and forest below them. Maybe they just know. Perhaps they listen for certain types of water sounds, like the babbling springs, stream or even small waves on the water's edge of Lake Mendota. I stopped at the prairie, first, and found Lincoln's, White-throated, Clay-colored, Savannah, Song and Swamp Sparrows. One Palm Warbler paused on a twig, pumped its tail a few times before flying off. A Nashville Warbler perched atop a willow, gave a few calls and headed south toward the forest.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Though NexRad showed strong migration throughout the night, the stream corridor was remarkably quiet. There were a few Swainson's Thrushes, a Wood Thrush and several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, but the biggest surprise was a flock of around sixty Blue Jays – the most I've seen at one time there. They didn't stay long, though. Astonished at their numbers, Sylvia and I counted them as they filed out of the trees and headed out of the conservancy. We didn't find very many warblers - Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart and Magnolia Warbler. Even the resident birds were quiet, though one Carolina Wren cheerfully announced its presence.

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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