Prairie Warbler © 2011 Mark Johnson
What a wonderful but unusual weekend of birding at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I had 77 species along the creek corridor trail on Saturday, and 68 on Sunday. It all began with favorable winds from the south that finally opened up the floodgates. All night Friday and into early Saturday morning, millions of birds poured into southern Wisconsin. Then on Saturday night and into Sunday, moderate to strong winds were from the southwest and west. Conditions were primed for an influx of migratory birds, but I never would have anticipated a Prairie Warbler (Saturday) and a Black-throated Gray Warbler (Sunday) would find their way to Middleton's nature conservancy. Fortunately for the WSO Records Committee, the two rarities were extensively photographed by local area birders.
Black-throated Gray Warbler © 2011 Eric Wood
Though I missed the Black-throated Gray Warbler, I was very pleased to see the Prairie Warbler. I probably would have been able to see the black-throated gray, but I was helping a couple of Girl Scouts earn their "All about Birds" Girl Scout IPA (Interest Project Award). I was told about the rare warbler shortly after entering the trail at Park Street. Rather than hurry my group along or make a dash for it, I took my time with the kids and helped them identify birds they had never seen before; for them nearly every bird was a lifer. Despite seeing numerous warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and other songbirds, they were most thrilled by seeing a Great Horned Owl. I've seen Black-throated Gray Warblers in Arizona, so it wasn’t a lifer for me. But it still would have been a nice one for my personal records. However, I'm just glad so many birders are coming to Pheasant Branch Conservancy and telling me it's some of the best birding they've experienced in years.
Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 4/30/11
Number of species: 77
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler