Saturday, May 24, 2014

Owls and a fine sparrow!

Great Horned Owl (adult)

I can't quite give up on the creek corridor just yet! I guess I wasn't surprised I was the only birder there this early in the morning. There were a few migratory gems, though even fewer than yesterday. I found two Alder Flycatchers singing near the end of the east trail just before Century Avenue. Only a couple of Tennessee Warblers, American Redstarts, and Chestnut-sided Warblers remained. I heard only one each of Blackpoll, Canada, and Wilson's Warblers.

Great Horned Owl (young)

I checked in on the Great Horned Owls. Today was the first day the owlet (I think there's only one) was perched at the opening of the tree cavity. Both adults were nearby; one seemed to have its eye on something of interest, but whatever it was would remain a mystery to me. After snapping a few photographs of the owls I decided to leave for the prairie parcel.

Poison Ivy

On my way out I found some Poison Ivy mixed in with Virginia Creeper. Never again will I be cavalier about this toxic plant on account of what happened last fall. Never! In fact, I keep a tube of Zanfel with me at all times, in the event of accidental contact.

Field Sparrow

So far, curiously absent from the prairie parcel this spring are Clay-colored Sparrows and Sedge Wrens. I can understand why the Sedge Wrens aren't there on account of the prescribed prairie burn, but the habitat looks ideal for Clay-colored Sparrows. There are plenty of Field Sparrows, and even some Savannah Sparrows. I haven't encountered any Yellow-breasted Chats or Dickcissels yet, but these species often don't show up at the conservancy until early June.

While walking up the drumlin trail I got a text from Jesse Peterson: "Anything good on the hill?" I looked down the trail and saw him walking toward me. I told him about the Alder Flycatchers at the creek corridor, but he had even better birding news to report. Earlier in the morning he found a couple of Henslow's Sparrows at Waunakee Marsh near the parking area. Being something of a sparrow aficionado, I decided I would make the short drive to the marsh once I finished my route at the prairie.

Waunakee Marsh Wildlife Area

Upon arriving at the marsh, I heard a diminutive "tsi-lick" Henslow's song as soon as I stepped out of my car. I spotted one, then a second, and heard a third! One was super close to the trail, so I quickly set up my digiscoping rig and waited. Eventually, the snazzy little sparrow popped up on a low perch and sang for several minutes. It  turned out to be the best photographic opportunity for this species I've ever experienced!

Henslow's Sparrow

Henslow's Sparrow (tsi-lick!)

Hooray for Ammodramus henslowii!

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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