"In nature, everything has a job. The job of the fog is to beautify further the existing beauties!"
― Mehmet Murat ildan
It was very foggy Saturday morning at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, perhaps even too much so for digiscoping. Though the above photograph looks a little like a moonrise over the trees, it's actually the sun glowing through the dense fog. Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, and Red-winged Blackbirds flew above me as I made my way up the trail toward the oak savanna. I could barely see them and wondered how they were able to tell where they were going.
Nearing the trail bend before the drumlin, I heard a recognizable bird call that prompted me to ready my digiscoping rig. It was a small flock of Bobolinks. In their brown and striped fall suits they might be mistaken for a sparrow of sorts. The males begin to molt back to their mostly black and white colors during January and February. The spring trip back to Wisconsin begins in late March and early April, with the first returning birds arriving in the first few days of May. The Bobolinks remained perched in the brush as if waiting for the fog to lift before moving on.
While fog generally conceals, it can also reveal as Mehmet Murat ildan suggested in the above quote. It's decorative as well as revealing. I became keenly aware of just how may spiders were present at the prairie. Curiously enough, for all the water droplet covered webs I observed, I was unable to find even a single spider.
The asters remain magnificent...
The fog was finally beginning to lift and the transition was almost like a rapid sunrise. There was a good showing of sparrows and even more are on the way. In addition to the Lincoln's Sparrows and White-throated Sparrow pictured here, I also found Clay-colored, Field, Song, Swamp, Chipping, Savannah, and even a single White-crowned Sparrow.
Nature's colors were on display in various forms throughout the morning...
Including the creek corridor, I observed only seven wood warbler species during my hike. It was a collection of expected late September migrants like Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Tennessee, and Palm Warblers. Common Yellowthroats remain abundant, but there's no way to distinguish the residents from arrivals from further north. Now my emphasis will be sparrow migration and I'm hoping for a Harris's, so I'll be spending a lot more time at the prairie in the coming weeks.
Short-winged Blister Beetle
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Sep 26, 2015 7:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
All images © 2015 Mike McDowell