Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Horicon NWR!

"Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us."

― Maya Angelou


Horicon National Wildlife Refuge

And with my one day away, a trip to Horicon National Wildlife Refuge was an ideal destination! It had been a few years since my last visit to the ginormous marsh―I'm not even sure when it was. Fortunately, not much has changed unlike many other natural areas I visit. Though water levels were a little on the low side, it was all very green and lush. Fortunately, there lots of birds and not many biting insects.



Despite staggering numbers of Marsh Wrens singing throughout the morning and afternoon, not one of them perched out in the open. Well, not that I noticed. Ah well. I wasn't all that eager to digiscope difficult birds. For the moment I concentrated on photographing scenery and water plants. The weather was perfect for a long hike, but I ran out of water along Old Marsh Road and that's about the time it began to feel a bit warmer. Once back to my car, a quick break at nearby Waupun for lunch and water was in order!


Common Duckweed Lemna gibba


Broad-leaf Arrowhead Sagittaria latifolia 


Common Bladderwort Utricularia macrorhiza

And frogs ...


Northern Leopard Frog Lithobates pipiens

However, a handsomely perched Great Egret prompted me to mount my camera to my spotting scope for a few digiscoped images.


Great Egret Ardea alba



American White Pelicans flew in formation throughout the day. They made no sound as they graced the blue skies; simply feathered perfection watching them bank, glide, and flap almost always in unison.


American White Pelicans Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

And when it comes to feeding, they're pretty synchronized with that, too!







There were swallows and Purple Martins everywhere. The only one missing was Cliff Swallow, but I didn't bird every bird when it came to the adroit aerialists and it could have been easily missed.


Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor

One mudflat was filled with foraging shorebirds. In addition to two families of Black-necked Stilts, there were Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, over a hundred Least Sandpipers, a few Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Stilt Sandpiper. Many of these species were my first fall southbound avian migrants, with the exception of a Tennessee Warbler I spotted in my yard over the weekend.


Black-necked Stilts Himantopus mexicanus


Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla

Though cliché, all good things must come to an end, but it was an especially memorable outing at the big marsh. It's been a long time since I've seen a Least Bittern. Though this one was observed flying over the trail, it was still an exciting moment. Curiously, no Black-crowned Night Herons were detected, which I don't think I've ever missed on any previous July excursions to Horicon.


Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata

Comical to me was this huge Woolly Mammoth sculpture at one of the visitor centers. Apparently, it was installed in 2015, which is an indication how infrequently I visit this amazing natural area. I used to lead annual spring field trips for the Horicon Marsh Birding Club at nearby Indermuhle Island. Anyone out there remember that?


Woolly Mammoth!

Horicon NWR Dodge, Wisconsin, US
Jul 10, 2018 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
76 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
American Bittern
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-necked Stilt
Killdeer
Stilt Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Black Tern
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Henslow's Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Dickcissel
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Bobolink
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

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