I know it is one thing to go forth as a nature-lover, and quite another to go forth in a spirit of cold, calculating, exact science. I call myself a nature-lover and not a scientific naturalist. All that science has to tell me is welcome, is, indeed eagerly sought for. I must know as well as feel. I am not merely contented, like Wordsworth's poet, to enjoy what others understand. I must also; but above all things, I must enjoy.
~ John Burroughs
Fall migration is underway. The two retention ponds at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy are attracting Solitary Sandpipers, one of the first migrants to pass through southern Wisconsin (map). I saw six of them this morning. In their company was a single Spotted Sandpiper and Killdeer. A young Great Blue Heron also stopped by to catch a few small fish.
Great Blue Heron
The Sedge Wrens have settled in and I saw my first fledged Common Yellowthroats of the summer breeding season. Though I've been spending many hours birding and conducting nature photography at Pheasant Branch Conservancy, I haven't heard a peep out of the chats in a couple of weeks—perhaps they have left after all. There are fewer Orchard Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, and Yellow Warblers, too—birds are dispersing. A couple days ago saw a large flock of Cliff Swallows perched in the tall grass trying to keep out of the wind, but they were gone the following day. The yellowthroats and Indigo Buntings will still be with us for a while yet, but soon the prairie will begin to fade in sound and change in color.
If you're in the Madison area, you really ought to check out Pope Farm Conservancy right now—it's as awesome and beautiful as I've ever witnessed it. Pope Farm is known locally for its large sunflower field, but they aren't open yet! Most of these wildflower photographs were taken there yesterday. Should you visit, consider becoming a member of the friends group!
I've been pretty busy during the summer birding season. I may have an opportunity for one more July blog post. If not, my first August entry will include my fall field trip schedule. It looks like I'll be leading five field trips at Pheasant Branch Conservancy from August to October. I might take a brief break from blogging in preparation for fall migration. Naturally, if I find something really cool I will always post it here. However, if you're on Facebook, you might want to check out Wisconsin Birding and Wisconsin Naturalists.
Black Swallowtail caterpillar
Goldenrod Crab Spider
Jumping Spider Phidippus clarus
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Jul 27, 2014 6:15 AM - 10:00 AM
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
All images © 2014 Mike McDowell