Monday, January 04, 2016
A fierce Northern Shrike recently arrived at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I first spotted it perched atop the oak tree near the parking lot, but something caught its attention and it took off across the prairie. I followed it to another tree where it held its perch until spotting prey beneath a patch of dogwood. The "butcher bird" zoomed down, grabbed a small rodent, and then made quick work of it from a more distant perch.
My first few outings of 2016 were pretty productive. I did well with raptors, finding both Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, plus Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harrier, and a Bald Eagle. The Gray Catbird I was hoping to count on the Madison CBC reappeared at the same buckthorn patch at the end of Marina Drive. I wonder where it was during the count? Sneaky bird!
There are still a few Sandhill Cranes around and I wonder if they'll even bother to migrate this winter. It's been a strange season for lingering migrants. Charles Naeseth called me earlier this evening to tell me he found an Eastern Phoebe at the Arena boat landing. It'll be interesting to see if Lake Mendota eventually freezes this winter.
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jan 1st and 3rd, 2016
American Tree Sparrow
Northern Shrike © 2016 Mike McDowell