Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer Ends

"How the contemplation of Nature as a whole does take the conceit out of us! How we dwindle to mere specks and our little lives to the span of a moment in the presence of the cosmic bodies and the interstellar spaces! How we hurry! How we husband our time! A year, a month, a day, an hour may mean so much to us. Behold the infinite leisure of Nature!"

― John Burroughs

Pheasant Branch Conservancy creek corridor

Absolutely gorgeous weekend weather! The last day of summer is Tuesday, but I probably won't blog again until after the Autumn Equinox. There are still small mixed warbler flocks along the creek corridor at Pheasant Branch, but it took a few hours before reaching double-digit species this morning. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers are beginning to move in, and Eastern Wood-Pewees are moving out ― I will miss their plaintive songs as well as their company. Soon it will be time to abandon the creek corridor and begin the search for migratory sparrows at the prairie parcel.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Though there's been a dearth of small hopper insects this summer, bees and butterflies at the prairie have been fairly plentiful. This morning I saw a few Black Swallowtails, several Monarchs, a single Viceroy, Clouded Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, and an Eastern Comma.

Eastern Comma

The prairie is alive with dazzling late summer colors...

Pheasant Branch Conservancy prairie parcel

Palm Warbler! The conservancy's 22nd warbler species of fall migration 2015. About the only warbler left to get is Orange-crowned. I suppose there could still be a Pine Warbler, and maybe even a Cape May, but there will probably be no Connecticut or Hooded Warbler this fall. I did find three different Black-throated Blue Warblers during September, which is a little better than average for me.

Palm Warbler

Grasshopper sp.

Right now asters at the prairie parcel are as beautiful as I've ever seen them. If you live in the Middleton or Madison area, you really ought to check it out before they begin to fade. There are also several goldenrod species at the prairie, my favorite being showy (Solidago speciosa).

New England Aster

While I would like to believe birds that seem unwary have gotten used to my presence at the conservancy, it likely is not the case. Well, I do spend a lot of time there. Still, like the Great Blue Heron last weekend, it's kind of comforting when a large bird either tolerates or doesn't appear to acknowledge me. Sharing space with a Sandhill Crane is a relaxing way to spend a few minutes of my morning hike, but I deliberately avoid making eye contact; that seems to make them nervous. My time with the crane is short and that's how I prefer it. After taking a few photographs, I move on and leave the crane to do its thing.

Sandhill Crane

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Sep 20, 2015 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM
54 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
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
Sedge Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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