Sunday, August 23, 2015
The First Warbler Waves!
The northern wood warblers are moving in! Along the creek corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy over the weekend, I found a single Blue-winged Warbler, several Golden-winged Warblers, many Chestnut-sided Warblers, heard a chip-note of a Blackburnian Warbler, a few Tennessee Warblers, one Northern Waterthrush, and a dozen or so American Redstarts.
But this is only the beginning. By mid-September we'll have outings with over a dozen warbler species. It's less common to have 20-plus warbler days during fall migration because some species that are at the edge of their northernmost range in southern Wisconsin have already left – we will not see them again until next April or May. Also, fall migration is more spread out over time compared to spring. Some species are still in alternate (breeding) plumage, but others, like the Chestnut-sided Warbler, are donning fall suits that appear entirely different.
Though not always true during spring migration, to find warblers in the fall it's best to locate a flock of foraging Black-capped Chickadees. Both Saturday and Sunday the warblers were mixed in with the chickadees. This time of year most warblers only vocalize by chip-notes and chickadee chatter is much easier to locate. Listen for the chickadees!
When birds become scarce as flocks come and go, I pull out the macro gear to photograph other interesting critters along the corridor. This cooperative Silver-spotted Skipper was quite content on a bridge railing. Here's an example of how much macro power I can get from my Nikon 1 V1 and Tamron 60mm f2 1:1 with a 2.7x crop factor:
And closer still (click on it)...
Nice compound eye, eh?
With a thorough search, cool mornings provide an opportunity to locate cicadas still warming themselves in the sunlight. An insect more commonly heard than seen during summer, they look every bit like aliens from planet Zorka.
Cicada Neotibicen sp.
Though still fewer in number compared to last summer, a couple treehopper species were present. Tiger beetles are my favorite insects to photograph, but the hoppers are a very close second and are exceedingly easier to get portraits of. You still have to be somewhat careful in your approach or else they'll take to the wing.
This fierce jumping spider wasn't about to take any grief from me. I think this is a member of the genus Phidippus, but I haven't been able to pinpoint the species yet. Update: Mark Johnson believes this jumper is Salticus scenicus, or Zebra Spider. I think he might be right!
Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus
And finally, a small selection of vibrant plant colors from a waning summer season...
False Solomon's Seal fruit
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Aug 23, 2015 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
All images © 2015 Mike McDowell