Thursday, December 29, 2011
Looking back at 2011...
Middleton became an official Bird City Wisconsin. This fall I entered my 500th eBird checklist for Pheasant Branch Conservancy since I began entering my sightings in 2007. For the year, I made 144 birding visits, recording 176 species, which is my highest ever year-count for the conservancy. New were Prairie Warbler and Red Crossbill. Sadly, I missed the Black-throated Gray Warbler by mere minutes, which is arguably the best new species observed there (see Eric Wood's excellent photograph). With the Red Crossbill found during the Madison CBC, I'm pretty sure my master list for Pheasant Branch is now at 222 bird species, but I have yet to confirm the total.
Most years I consider myself fortunate if I see just one Prothonotary Warbler at Pheasant Branch. This spring, however, several were present from April 24th to May 15th along the creek corridor. For a while I was beginning to think they might stay, but perhaps the habitat wasn't quite what they were looking for and moved on. The Picnic Point Prothontary Warblers returned to find newly installed nest boxes and successfully fledged young late June. A Kentucky Warbler spent most of the summer at Hoyt Park in Madison.
For the first time at my apartment I enjoyed having Baltimore Orioles visit my balcony for grape jelly from early May through the end of June. Even an Orchard Oriole made a couple of appearances but didn't stick around as long as the Baltimores.
Coming upon hundreds of Tiger Swallowtails mud-puddling at Baxter's Hollow was a special spring treat. I've always wanted to experience this particular butterfly phenomenon but never expected to see so many attracted to one place.
During the summer doldrums I began working on my family ancestry. I found the identities of all my great grandparents and most of my great-great grandparents. I discovered that my maternal grandmother, Edrie L. Darrow-Kellerman, was related to the famous Scopes Trial lawyer Clarence S. Darrow. With a lot of electronic digging through various online vital records databases, I traced some of my family ancestral lines back to the early 1600s in Scotland and Holland.
This year's Snowy Owl irruption is getting a lot of press. The arrivals seemed to peak in late November and early December, but there are still a number of Snowy Owls in Wisconsin. Reports have significantly tapered off the past few weeks. The last time I saw the Waunakee owl was on December 20th, but someone spotted one at Governor Nelson State Park on the 25th. It might be the same bird.
Approaching 300 members, the Wisconsin Birding facebook group I created is thriving. It's become a great way to share reports, stories, photographs, and videos from birders all around the state. There was a brief scandal concerning an image I chose to use for the group's profile picture. Though I was under no obligation to do so, I eventually changed the group name and the profile image. I also created a facebook group about digiscoping.
This blog will begin its 8th year of publication in February 2012. Since January 1st of this year, 18,207 people have visited with over 4 million hits to the birddigiscoper.com domain.
See you in 2012!