Monday, December 23, 2013

Weekend Birding

Yesterday I found a Belted Kingfisher and a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. These would have been nice birds to have for the CBC last weekend. I found the warbler feeding on cedar berries near the overlook parking lot along Pheasant Branch Road. I was going to try for a photograph, but it took flight and headed south at full speed. The kingfisher was patrolling the creek corridor for open water. I've been finding more of them overwintering at the conservancy the past couple of years. The snoozy Barred Owl was perched at its usual roost, now partially covered with fresh snow. Perhaps it's just me, but it doesn't seem quite as pleased as it did the last time I photographed it.

The sunlight didn't last for long. The clouds rolled in by the time I got to the prairie. Some areas in Dane County didn't get as much snow as predicted, but the depth at the prairie seemed to be around 6 to 8 inches, which was perfect for snowshoeing. It's one of those psychological things, but I enjoyed being the first one to leave my tracks on the freshly snow-covered trail.

Prairie plants were coated with ice and made tinkling sounds with the occasional breeze. American Tree Sparrows were having to chip away at the ice to free seeds to eat. The sparrows near the Conservancy Condos have it comparatively easy with all the bird feeders around. Somehow I admire the ones at the prairie a little more for making a go of it without receiving a handout from us. Still, a strategy for survival that works during winter shouldn't be disparaged in any way. My imagination for what Nature serves these little birds over the course of winter probably pales in comparison to their reality. Right now the temperature just hit zero. It's nighttime and these birds are out there, probably sheltering together in a hidden roost in dense vegetation. Amazing life.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Dec 22, 2013 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
31 species

Canada Goose
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
Lapland Longspur
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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