Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cool Weather & Warblers!

Early morning Moon

I'm really enjoying this cooler weather. I like having my windows open during the night and waking up to a bedroom filled with cool air so I feel justified putting on my robe and slippers when I get out of bed. Next, make coffee, catch up on the news, check email, Facebook, and look at the night's migration on NEXRAD. Then it's Kuhl sweaters, SmartWool socks, and Keen hiking shoes. Often times I shower the night before, so a morning ritual can take as little as 15 minutes if I suspect the birding will be good. Saturday was such a day. I tallied 18 warbler species, which is about the best we can expect during fall migration in southern Wisconsin. I'm pretty sure I've had 20+ warbler species days mid-September in past years, but I can't remember any specific instances.

Creek corridor path

I like to get to the creek corridor early in order to avoid the swarms of joggers and bicyclists. It isn't so bad during the weekdays, but on Saturday and Sunday the trail can get pretty busy by mid-morning. Do others know what I'm looking for? Some are curious, but I can't tell you how many times non-birders have asked "Hey, what are you looking at? Are you looking for the owl?" When engaging them, they're usually referring to the Great Gray Owl that visited Capital Brewery during March of 2013. Some even claim to have seen the owl recently!

Wilson's Warbler

When answering honestly, most have no idea what birds I mean when I say their names: Blue-headed Vireo? Swainson's Thrush? Wilson's Warbler? They really have no idea. This is why I sometimes answer sarcastically by saying "Birds. We're looking for birds." I generally elaborate, though. Last week someone wanted to know the specific ones. I said I could run through their names (around 30 species) in about 20 seconds, so I did via John Moschitta style. I do like to try and convey to non-birders how delighted we birders are to have a place like Pheasant Branch Conservancy where such an incredible diversity of birds can be observed. Still, I think most trail users see the creek corridor as an exercise resource facility adorned with trees and flowers.

New England Aster & Northern Corn Rootworm Beetle

I love the pre-fall colors of late summer. The asters and goldenrods render dramatic highlights along the trail. There is still a lot of birding to be done, but after Saturday I can't help but feel we've moved beyond the peek of warbler migration. There are still Orange-crowned, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers coming, but right now I sense the diversity is going to decline from here on out. Perhaps I'm wrong. Soon, though, the sparrows will begin to return. I even thought I heard a White-throated Sparrow's beep this morning, but it was only one call-note and I wasn't positive on the vocalization I heard. They should be here any day.

Smooth Aster

False Solomon's Seal

Palm Warbler

Fall is just around the corner!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 13, 2014 7:00 AM - 10:30 AM
57 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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