Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Highlights!

Another great year of birding comes to an end! When I look back over my 2013 blog posts, nothing else compares to having a Great Gray Owl show up in Middleton. Kyle Lindemer asked if I was going to chase the Mauston Great Gray and I prophetically told him the only way I would see one was if one showed up in the Middleton or Madison area. You can read about the Middleton Great Gray Owl here and here. And … how cool was this?

It was a good year for Dickcissels at Pheasant Branch Conservancy and I was able to get some of the best photographs I've ever taken of this species. There were so many preoccupied singing males that they didn't seem to mind the presence of nearby photographers. For more Dickcissel photographs, plus a nice summer memory, check out this blog post from July. Sedge Wrens were also quite numerous at the prairie this year and these were my favorite images I took of them.

Digiscoping is always challenging, but nothing is more challenging than digiscoping warblers. Still, I had a phenomenal spring with the sprightly birds and managed to digiscope 12 warbler species. You can see most of them by reviewing my May blog posts. One of my favorite digiscoped images from the spring was this stretching Scarlet Tanager taken at Baxter's Hollow:

Now that I finally owned a digital camera that can use different lenses, I bought a real macro lens and went a little crazy photographing tree, leaf, and plant hoppers. It was all great fun until I inadvertently brushed my knee against Poison Ivy and ended up with an extremely nasty reaction. There are some graphic images at the bottom of that post, but it ultimately got even worse and I ended up in the hospital; it took about two months to completely recover from the reaction. Despite the setback, I still had an excellent fall with migratory sparrows. I was able to get some really nice photographs of Lincoln's Sparrows and this was my favorite:

Believe it or not, this blog will begin its 10th year of publication early next year. I've contemplated how long I can keep it going. It's a lot of work and Facebook makes publishing photographs and reporting sightings a lot easier. The so-called social media experts say that blogging is well past its peak, but I still get a lot of enjoyment from writing and publishing. Dated Facebook content becomes a little lost over time, but a blog archive is easy to search, explore, and occasionally take a trip down memory lane.

For birding statistics, I'm finishing the year with 212 species for the state of Wisconsin. I didn't add any life birds this year, but I had a couple of record months at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Though I actually had fewer birding outings at the conservancy compared to last year, I still managed to record an all-time personal high of 185 year birds there.

And finally, I'd like to thank all the people who attended my field trips in 2013, as well as my friends I enjoy birding with. Birding alone has its special moments and is sometimes necessary, but it's never as much fun as it is when you're with a group of people to share the experience with. Having said that, one of my favorite solitary experiences this year was watching White-winged Crossbills at Forrest Hill Cemetery in January. It was a soft day with unusual quietness. The crunching sounds the crossbills made as they worked pinecones was amusing and enjoyable. The juxtaposition of thoughts as I read names and dates on gravestones made for a very transcendent and memorable outing with the birds.

Happy Birding in 2014!

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Happy new year. I wish you a year In good health and with lots of opportunities to enjoy birding. And; keep on blogging.
    Best regards, Sjerp