Saturday, May 09, 2015

Not like last year!

"To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday."

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

― John Burroughs

Pheasant Branch Creek Corridor

Fueled by ample rain and sunshine, the accelerated leaf cover has made warbler viewing and photography extremely difficult this May. Though I tallied 16 warbler species this morning, I only saw a few of them; the others had to be identified by song. Though the creek corridor brims with non-native plants and shrubs, the songbirds love it for its cover, water, and abundant insects. This spring the wood warblers are mostly foraging in the canopy, but some are coming down at eye-level or lower to look for morsels to eat. Bird, beast, bug, or flower, there's still plenty that's accessible to the naturalist in satisfying one's thirst for Nature's limitless beauty.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

I'm surprised we haven't had any Canada Warblers yet. I also find it curious that American Redstarts are already moving through in fairly large numbers. Every spring is different, but one often hears from veteran birders how strange and weird the current one is. Last May's cold-snap was the anomaly. I have to go all the way back to 2002 to recall anything similar occurring at the creek corridor. Do we really want a cold-snap, though? Having Northern Parulas, Blackburnian, and Cape May Warblers foraging on the ground isn't exactly an uplifting experience knowing that the birds are struggling to find food, but they sure are amazing to look at when so close.

Scarlet Tanager

Least Flycatcher

Swainson's Thrush

A very cooperative Gray-cheeked Thrush has been hanging out near the first bridge crossing going east from Park Street for the past few days. Several birders enjoyed excellent diagnostic views of the bird from fairly close range this morning. Yesterday it was singing, but was silent today. North of Century Avenue, I heard Swanson's Thrush, Wood Thrush, and Veery singing simultaneously. Their song themes are similar enough that it can get a little confusing trying to pick out the individual voices.

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Despite overgrowth of non-native plants, there are still some gems to be found along the creek corridor. When birdsong diminished toward late morning, I photographed as many wildflowers I could find. I haven't made any trips to Spring Green Preserve yet this year, but I'm ready with my macro gear. However, May is best spent along at the corridor. We're still waiting for Black-throated Blue, Prothonotary, and Connecticut Warblers. It will be interesting to learn what birds have been lingering and which ones have already been through. It's been a strange spring!


Wild Geranium

Prairie Trillium

Prairie Trillium

Starry False Solomon's Seal

Wood Poppy

Blue-eyed Grass

Eastern Kingbird

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
May 9, 2015 5:45 AM - 11:15 AM
74 species

Wood Duck
Wild Turkey
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Sandhill Crane
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Chimney Swift
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
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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