Sunday, August 23, 2015

The First Warbler Waves!

American Redstart

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!

Porcelain Gray

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:

Silver-spotted Skipper

And closer...

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.

Wide-footed Treehopper

Buffalo Treehopper

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...

Obedient Plant

Blue Lobelia

False Solomon's Seal fruit

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Aug 23, 2015 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM
34 species

Great Blue Heron
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
American Redstart
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Song Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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