Friday, May 09, 2014

Big Warbler Wave!

Scarlet Tanager

Along with a change in the wind direction came a flood of neotropical migratory birds. More than ever, Pheasant Branch Conservancy has become a premier destination for those seeking great views of warblers, flycatchers, tanagers, orioles, vireos, and other spring birds as they move into southern Wisconsin. Yesterday was a pretty exciting morning of birding with 22 warbler species that included a Prothonotary Warbler, Cape May Warbler, and Bay-breasted Warbler. Late afternoon I received a text from Jesse Peterson that there was a White-eyed Vireo at the creek corridor. I still had an hour left at work, but good fortune and help from birding friends enabled me to see the bird. I think it's been close to a decade the last time I've observed this particular species at the conservancy.

Magnolia Warbler

Using my Swarovski DCB II adapter along with my Nikon 1 18.5mm lens gives me faster shutter speeds, but less overall focal length. I can't get quite as much reach for tight portraiture, but it does give me a little more compositional room to work with. While it's possible to increase the spotting scope's ocular zoom, I kept it at 25x for all of these shots.

Prothonotary Warbler

I heard from a friend that this Prothonotary Warbler was much more accommodating later on in the day giving photographers a great opportunity for close-up portraits of the feathered golden jewel. You'll note that this bird has the same stained feathers above its bill that I wrote about last year. It's not a plumage feature, but discoloration from the bird's probing foraging behavior.


I love this next shot in how it shows the dramatic blending of color from the bird's golden-yellow head, the olive-green back, and then the blue-gray wing feathers. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for obtaining more striking portraiture of prothonotaries yet this spring, but I'm just happy I got to see one at the conservancy once again.

We still have yet to see if the creek corridor's Great Horned Owls have young. This puzzle could easily be solved by going there after sunset, but I've been getting up so early I've been too tired to confirm. My hunch is that any day we're going to see fuzzy heads peering out from the tree cavity!

Great Horned Owl

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
May 8, 2014 5:30 AM - 9:00 AM
73 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Green Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Common Nighthawk
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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