Monday, July 26, 2010

Late July Birding

I spent most of Sunday enjoying the sights and sounds of Pope Farm Park in the Town of Middleton; the weather and lighting was perfect for digiscoping. The panoramic sunflower field is at peak and was announced in a local newspaper, attracting a multitude of park visitors to witness and capture its exquisite beauty. I took a few snapshots with my point-and-shoot camera, but quickly moved on to my primary quarry.

A relatively young prairie restoration effort, Pope Farm Park is attracting more and more grassland birds year by year. I was pleased to find a couple of Bobolinks. Last year Clay-colored Sparrows were somewhat sparse, but now their buzz buzz buzz song can be heard from every corner of the prairie. To the untrained ear, many would likely pass them off for an insect, like a grasshopper or cricket.

The park is also host to more showy songbirds like Eastern Bluebirds and Indigo Buntings. When I took these particular photos, I couldn't help think about a friend from Massachusetts who has never seen an Indigo Bunting. This bird shows hints of feather wear but still retains its gorgeous radiance. There were several juveniles lurking in the dense grasses by the oaks, so I was sure they had a busy and productive breeding season.

Another enjoyable discovery was the numerous Sedge Wrens that have recently taken up residence this summer at the park. Approximately twenty yards from one another, these two wrens exchanged songs practically the entire day. Towering above the prairie, the Sedge Wren below seemed to favor this particular perch, making a lovely portrait of a singing bird.

Pope Farm Park – July 25th, 2010:

Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch

All images © 2010 Mike McDowell


  1. Absolutely gorgeous photographs...

  2. Absolutely beautiful images of those Sedge Wrens - WOW!

  3. Your photos are always beautiful, but these are jaw dropping.

  4. Rockin' shots, Mike! Great job cloning out the leg snare on the Indigo Buntings (I can't get w/in a 1000 yds. of these beauties w/ them flying away....) :)

  5. Mike-

    After seeing this post I had to go and take a look for myself! I just got back, and the sunflowers and birds are both stunning! I finally felt confident IDing the songs of both Vesper (finally distinguishable from Song Sparrows, I think...) and Clay-colored Sparrows, both of which could be heard form the parking lot. I also saw 3 Bobolinks, including one male looking quite comical in the middle of his molt, with tufts of feathers hanging off and new ones growing in. Also learned the song of the Sedge Wren, and saw a male Eastern Meadowlark singing while accompanied by a juvenile. It felt like a small victory for grassland birds.

    Great Photos and Birding!

  6. Awesome shots..going to tweet this out to the twitter crowd!

  7. All,

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Max: The 3 Bobolinks were there last evening as well!

    Mike M.

  8. Every time I think it's not possible for your photos to get better, you prove me wrong. WOW! You were on fire that day with your exceptional captures and it shows. My ever elusive Indigo Bunting.....someday :)

    Thanks for sharing...
    - Your friend from Massachusetts