Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Nesters

"The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need  if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us  if only we were worthy of it."

― Edward Abbey

Pheasant Branch Conservancy

With spring migration winding down, the time has come to direct my birding endeavors to nesting species at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Avian diversity remains high despite the fact that most wood warblers have migrated on to northern Wisconsin and beyond. Warblers staying at the conservancy for the remainder of spring and summer are American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

Naturally, there's much more than warblers to study and photograph. The prairie and savanna hosts an impressive assortment of songbirds like Orchard Oriole, Brown Thrasher, Sedge Wren, Indigo Bunting, Willow Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Dickcissel, and Eastern Meadowlark. In fact, one can still find around 80 bird species at the conservancy during the month of July. It's certainly more than enough to keep a nature photographer content for subjects.

Eastern Meadowlark

Indigo Bunting

Spiderwort is beginning to bloom around the base of the drumlin. I look forward to observing the prairie's natural wildflower rearrangement from now through fall. But in the meanwhile, I plan on doing a lot of insect macro photography ― where there are buds and blooms there are bugs!


I will also be checking the confluence ponds and North Fork marsh along Pheasant Branch Creek. Though a few birders have reported Marsh Wrens, I have yet to hear or see one this spring. The habitat seems perfect for them and they were once quite abundant in past years, so I'm left with speculation regarding their apparent decline or absence this year.

Green Heron

A careful observer might discover around 40 bird species just at the North Fork. Present right now are Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, various swallows, Yellow Warblers, Willow Flycatchers, Sora, Swamp Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes, Wood Ducks, and Spotted Sandpipers.

Spotted Sandpiper

Yesterday I co-led a Natural Resources Foundation tiger beetle and birding field trip at Spring Green Preserve. It took a few hours, but we eventually found Festive Tiger Beetles and one Big Sand Tiger Beetle. It was the weather. Overcast skies, gusty winds, and a recent rainfall kept the tiger beetles under cover. Not until the sun came out for while did the beetles begin to emerge. Fortunately for the participants, the preserve is such an astonishing and unique natural area, there was still much for us to appreciate.

Festive Tiger Beetle

Farewell May and hello June!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
May 26, 2016 8:15 AM - 9:45 AM
71 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Pheasant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Spotted Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Canada Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2016 Mike McDowell

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