Sunday, August 25, 2013

Warblers and Hoppers!

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

~ Robert Brault

We're finally beginning to see a slight increase in the variety of migrant songbirds at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. During the Madison Audubon field trip on Saturday, we found Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, plus a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Swainson's Thrush. Birding the same area with Dottie and Sylvia today, we added Canada Warbler to the weekend tally. Still, migration seems behind a week or so and a couple of eBird tables showing warbler species at Pheasant Branch Conservancy appear to bear this out:

Note: The high "Number of Individuals" in the 2013 August 21-25 is due to 5 outings. But even when considering my somewhat inconsistent number of checklists per date grouping, there's solid evidence that migration is stalled, late, or perhaps something else is going on.

One birder told me she believes the reason there are so few warblers in southern Wisconsin right now is because they perished during the cold spring. Though the weather during spring definitely created hardships for migrating songbirds, I think what we're witnessing now is a product of the southerly winds we've had for the past few weeks – the birds don't like to fly in a headwind, even though some manage to migrate despite this.

Still others have speculated that birds may have initiated breeding and nesting later than normal (because of the cold spring), putting birds behind schedule now. However, we should keep in mind that the timing of bird migration is closely connected to the photoperiod. There's one more week to go for August, but the weather isn't looking promising for migration until Tuesday night when a weak cold front moves through.

It's extremely difficult to digiscope warblers in the woods this time of year, but there will likely be a few songbird opportunities before the leaves start to change color and fall. In the meantime, I confess I've become somewhat obsessed with insect photography. If I keep it up, I may have to change the name of this blog! However, as regular readers of my blog know, I've always enjoyed adding insects like butterflies, dragonflies, and tiger beetles to my blog stories. Lately, I've been in pursuit of the very tiny bugs, like leafhoppers, treehoppers, and planthoppers. They're super fascinating creatures!

Acanalonia Planthopper

Sharpshooter Leafhopper

Buffalo Treehopper

Buffalo Treehopper

Red-banded Leafhopper

Red-banded Leafhopper

Brown Stink Bug 

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle

Glyptoscelis? Leaf Beetle

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Aug 24, 2013 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM
44 species

Double-crested Cormorant
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell


  1. Wowwwww, very cool pics of very cool bugs!

  2. Great insect pics. The redbanded leafhopper is one of my favorite little bugs.