"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.
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.
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.
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!
Starry False Solomon's Seal
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
May 9, 2015 5:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
All images © 2015 Mike McDowell