Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumnal Equinox

"If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under a radiator."

~ W. Beran Wolfe

Early morning waning Gibbous Moon

The skies were clear and the weather was gorgeous all day on Sunday. I went for a long walk and explored several sections of Pheasant Branch Conservancy to find all the birds. I tallied 60 species during my 3.5 hour outing. What a great way to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox!

The Creek Corridor

Though we're now officially in the fall season, it's still very green along the creek corridor. Some leaves are beginning to turn yellow or red in just small patches. The calm winds and sounds of water made for a relaxing walk. Well, for the most part. One of my birding companions lamented "I hate sharing the corridor" after a group of obnoxiously loud joggers went past us while we were trying to listen to a bird call. At another point I nearly got hit by a bicyclist who was going way too fast and gave no audible warning he was passing. I guess I've gotten sort of used to it, but I remember a few decades ago I would seldom see another person during my walks along the creek corridor trail.

Savannah Sparrow

I found several sparrow species at the prairie parcel. This Savannah Sparrow was so close that the focal depth was pretty shallow. There were also White-throated Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, Swamp, Song, Field, and even one White-crowned Sparrow. Sparrow migration is upon us! And, thankfully, that will last throughout October.

Palm Warbler

Warbler migration is winding down. While I did find nine species, the presence of numerous Palm Warblers is indicative that we're well past peak. The diversity was best along the creek corridor where I found Bay-breasted, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, American Redstart, and Tennessee Warblers. The masses of Yellow-rumped Warblers are still on their way and will likely be here later this week.

Palm Warbler

There were still Marsh Wrens at the North Fork section, which was also where I found a few young Blue-winged Teal (pictured below). Since I also found my first of fall Winter Wren and noted at least one Sedge Wren at the prairie, I made sure to return to the creek corridor and waited for the Carolina Wren to sing or call. With House Wrens still present, too, I got the five wren species that are typically found in Wisconsin. There is a narrow window of opportunity to observe all five at the conservancy during spring or fall migration; all but the Winter Wren nest at Pheasant Branch. Carolina Wrens aren't always present and sometimes the Sedge Wrens have cleared out before the Winter Wrens arrive.

Blue-winged Teal

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 22, 2013 7:00 AM - 10:30 AM
60 species

Canada Goose
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Winter Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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