Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend Birding at Pope Farm Conservancy!

"I am extremely happy walking on the downs ... I like to have space to spread my mind out in."

― Virginia Woolf

Pope Farm Conservancy

I made two trips to Pope Farm Conservancy in the Town of Middleton over the weekend. Saturday morning's visit was a birding field trip sponsored by the Friends group. I returned on Sunday to photograph the beautiful scenery, flowers, and birds.

Eastern Bluebird

As I previously mentioned, it's an exceptionally good year for finding and observing Dickcissels. During the field trip I spotted a few singing males that were sure to make excellent photography subjects for Sunday. All of the necessary elements came together and I'm pleased with the results.


The above male Dickcissel was courting a mate and countersinging with another male from across the lower prairie. I observed just one physical interaction between the two when they chased each other around a shrub. The melee lasted only a few seconds. Both birds eventually returned to their perches and resumed singing from atop various tall prairie plants. They were so focused on defending their territories that they paid no concern over the primate with the lens.

A spectacularly beautiful morning ...

Pope Farm Conservancy

There were numerous Clay-colored Sparrows on the south side of the oak-covered moraine. One might not guess from looking at photographs of this sparrow in full song that is voice consists of insect-like buzz buzz buzz calls. It's actually quite comical watching them sing through a spotting scope, but for them the buzzy notes are serious business.

Clay-colored Sparrow

Oak Savanna and Spiderwort

During the field trip I stated it was odd not to hear even a single Orchard Oriole. On Sunday I heard at least one singing from the cluster of burr oaks on the moraine. As I mentioned to the participants, a higher concentration of Orchard Orioles can be found at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Governor Nelson State Park.


Later in the morning I went to Sylvia's house to photograph a large jumping spider she found in her backyard garden. Though one might think it difficult to track down a single spider, we were able to relocate it within minutes. While scanning her plants and flowers for other subjects, we found a Snowberry Clearwing and a Laphria Robber Fly consuming its prey. Wow! There isn't anything like this on my patio garden. To be fair, Sylvia's backyard is right on the edge of Owen Conservation Park, so she's fortunate to have an astounding variety of critters visit her garden.

Jumping Spider Phidippus audax

Snowberry Clearwing Hemaris diffinis

Robber Fly Laphria thoracica

Pope Farm Conservancy, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jun 17 & 18, 2017 
55 species

Wild Turkey
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk *
Red-tailed Hawk *
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher *
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee *
Eastern Phoebe *
Great Crested Flycatcher *
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo *
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher *
European Starling
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow *
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole *
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

* Sunday's additions.

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell

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