Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I did all day

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

~John Muir

Yesterday, I spent a day free of work obligations appreciating Nature by observing, documenting, and photographing flora and fauna. I started out early by leading a Madison Audubon field trip at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Our group found 48 bird species, eight of which were warblers. Other birds during the field trip included Scarlet Tanager, Brown Creeper, Eastern Towhee, Lincoln's Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and a Green Heron sunning motionless along the creek bank.

Tennessee Warbler

We are well past peak for warbler migration and my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of fall provided a reminding cue. We'll still have a few double-digit warbler days, but there will be more Tennessee Warblers, Nashville Warblers, and Orange-crowned Warblers in the coming weeks. That being said, one never knows what stragglers might still be seen. I once found a Blue-winged Warbler in October and a Yellow-throated Warbler in November.

New England Aster

After the field trip I went to the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch, but didn't stay for very long. Asters and goldenrod were waving in gusty winds that kept birds low in the tall grass and out of sight – problematic for bird photography. I had a backup plan, which was to head out to Spring Green Preserve and look for the Apache Jumping Spiders that Mark Johnson told me about. Spring Green always has something interesting to see and learn about. The last time I was there I found a Blue Racer and a few years ago there was a Northern Black Widow Spider.

Spring Green Prairie

Rough Blazingstar

The high bluff helped keep northerly winds away off the prairie, making it easier to photograph insects and wildflowers. The only songbird I found was a single Vesper Sparrow, but Turkey Vultures circled overhead throughout the day while I scoured the prairie's sandy trails. I didn't find any jumping spiders, but a few Tiger Beetles along path more than sufficed for photography subjects. There were three species present, but I only captured photographs of Splendid Tiger Beetle and Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle.These insects are really tough to sneak up on!

Splendid Tiger Beetle

Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle

It was a very relaxing and satisfying day of being outdoors. Before heading home, I had a delicious Greek Salad at Spring Green General Store. It's a pretty cool restaurant and much healthier dining than some of the fast food places you'll find along Highway 14.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 18, 2012 7:00 AM - 9:15 AM
48 species

Canada Goose 
Great Blue Heron 
Green Heron 
Cooper's Hawk 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Ring-billed Gull 
Mourning Dove 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
Belted Kingfisher 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
Downy Woodpecker 
Hairy Woodpecker 
Northern Flicker 
Eastern Wood-Pewee 
Eastern Phoebe 
Yellow-throated Vireo 
Blue-headed Vireo 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Black-capped Chickadee 
Tufted Titmouse 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Brown Creeper 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Swainson's Thrush 
American Robin 
Gray Catbird 
Brown Thrasher 
Cedar Waxwing 
Black-and-white Warbler 
Tennessee Warbler 
Nashville Warbler 
Common Yellowthroat 
American Redstart 
Magnolia Warbler 
Chestnut-sided Warbler 
Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Eastern Towhee 
Lincoln's Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow 
Scarlet Tanager 
Northern Cardinal 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Purple Finch 
House Finch 
American Goldfinch 

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell

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