Sunday, October 25, 2009


The weekend's exquisite outdoor offerings were graciously welcomed after several days of continuous drizzle. We're right about at peak for fall color. It's very beautiful, but there isn't quite as much tint in the foliage as there normally is this time of year. Isolated patches are representing fall's fiery splendor, and the forest floor's fresh carpeting rendered enjoyable accents in the sunlight.

Pheasant Branch prairie has been transformed into Sparrowlandia. The fields are loaded with a variety of sparrows. So far this October I've observed over a dozen sparrow species at the prairie parcel of the conservancy: Vesper, Field, Clay-colored, Swamp, Lincoln's, Savannah, White-crowned, and more. With numerous sightings of Harris's Sparrows to our north, I'm optimistic one (or more) will be found here yet this fall. I'm pleased to see high numbers of Fox Sparrows this migration. I like to ponder what makes one year different from another for a particular species. Is it weather events that cause fluctuations in numbers year to year, or something else? No matter, really. I'm just glad they're here and their awesome beauty decorates whatever they happen perch on, even an invasive plant.

At the creek corridor, a lone Orange-crowned Warbler foraged in the understory along with Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Though we're expecting a warming trend this week, time is running short for insect gleaning birds. Gregarious White-throated Sparrows were the most abundant birds of the corridor. Fragments of their songs were punctuated by occasional perfect renditions of Old Sam Peabody, but their humorous (to me) durp durp durp chatter remained entirely sincere.

"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell


  1. Fabulous shots! Wonderful post!

  2. I saw Fox, Swamp , WT , WC and Chipping near Kewaunee on the 24th...also a Winter Wren.

  3. Great bird shots as usual. But I especially enjoy the fall color pictures, since we don't get much color in Southern Cali. Thanks. :)

  4. Ern!

    I thought you disappeared!

    Great to have you back!

    Mike M.