Monday, September 25, 2017

Late September Birding!

"It was one of those sweltering summer days in which the air itself seems to decline as a haze suffocates the outside world."

― Moonshine Noire


Pheasant Branch Conservancy

Sweltering days, indeed! Well, except it's Autumn and we are setting temperature records. Despite the wretchedly hot weekend weather, I managed to find 13 warbler species Sunday morning at Pheasant Branch Conservancy's creek corridor, which is pretty good for this time of year:

Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler


Black-and-white Warbler

This may have been my final visit to the creek corridor of the year for neotropical migrant birding, as sparrows are beginning to arrive at the prairie parcel on the north side of the conservancy. Southerly winds are probably still stalling migration over Wisconsin, so there may yet be another big push of wood warblers with the next cold front. I've seen only a handful of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, and no Orange-crowned Warblers yet.When they eventually pour into the southern part of our state, they will likely be accompanied by more Tennessees, Nashvilles, Black-throated Greens, and other late September flockmates.


White-throated Sparrow

Attracted to the gurgling of the creek near the first wooden bridge, a variety of songbirds hopped onto rocks looking for shallow water to bathe in. Watching for several minutes, I noticed birds would flush for cover in the adjacent dense brush whenever joggers or bicyclists traversed the bridge (it makes a lot of noise). And each time, the birds would overcome their skittish nature and make their way back to the rocks, and then the water. I think this is an example of untended consequences with increased trail traffic along the creek corridor; even a small impact is still an impact that probably shouldn't occur at a nature preserve. Feather maintenance is important, and so is regulating body temperature. But it isn't like you can tell people "Shhhh! Slow down―the birds are bathing!"


Gray-cheeked Thrush


New England Aster

I don't really enjoy nature photography when it's so hot and humid. I waited until early evening before venturing out to Deer Creek for some supplemental blog images, but it was still pretty muggy and uncomfortable. Wildflower-wise, it's asters and goldenrods. I found an interesting weevil, but the most unexpected observation was yet to come.


Smooth Aster


Virginia Creeper


White-faced Meadowhawk Sympetrum obtrusum


Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis


Rhubarb Curculio Lixus concavus

When dedicating myself to insect photography, I typically don't wear binoculars, so without telescopic vision, I wasn't sure what a glob of gray up ahead on on the trail was. When I got a little closer, I used my camera to magnify it and was surprised to see an adult Cooper's Hawk cooling itself in the shade by laying on the pavement. Yeah ... that's how hot it was! See? One can still find unusual things even after three decades of birding.


Cooper's Hawk

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Sep 24, 2017 7:00 AM - 10:04 AM
52 species

Wood Duck
Mallard
Green Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-throated Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell

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