Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thoughts of Spring

Last week I spotted a Northern Shrike hunting in the field right across the street from Eagle Optics – what a surprise that was. Well, with all the shrikes being reported around Wisconsin, I can't say it was completely unexpected. Yesterday I spotted the shrike again, but further away on the other side of Highway 14, actively hunting on quarry property. Though distant, a few of my co-workers got a glimpse of it through a spotting scope.

Though I'm mostly recovered from my illness, I'm probably going to stay inside this weekend and rest up. The temperatures are back into the 20's and 30's, but it's overcast today and not ideal for digiscoping. As Wayne Rohde posted on the Wisconsin Birding Network yesterday, spring migration is indeed just around the corner. Swans, geese and cranes will be among the first birds to return through Wisconsin at the end of this month.

So prepare, once again, for one of the greatest spectacles, if not the greatest, of what nature can offer the human experience and imagination. It's as easy to observe as a visit to a local park, conservancy or other natural area as billions of birds make their way home to their breeding territories throughout North America. Of course, that means a fond farewell to those who stuck with us through this particularly cold and snowy winter, but I'll still have juncos and tree sparrows through a portion of April. I just love those first early spring mornings when stepping outside means a warm greeting in junco song and a reminiscing freshness in the air from the thawing ground.

All images © 2008 Mike McDowell

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