Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Stunning Wildflowers!

"Wildflowers don't grow haphazardly as we are led to believe. They grow in fantastic patterns which are different to each of us you see."

― Anthony T. Hincks

Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum

In a phenological sense, finding a pair of Palm Warblers at the Grady Tract on Sunday was mildly surprising. Normally I don't begin to see this species until the second week of September or even later. More alarming would have been Yellow-rumped Warblers! Yes, it's too early for them and I don't want it to be over so soon. While noting changes in timing or numbers can be interesting in citizen science, watching the sprightly birds during migration remains a joyous and carefree pastime. On this particular outing, though, we weren't on the prowl for songbirds. Instead, Sylvia Marek gave us a private wildflower tour at UW-Madison Arboretum's Green Prairie.

White Turtlehead Chelone glabra

White Turtlehead Chelone glabra

Gentians were absolutely beautiful...

Bottle Gentian Gentiana andrewsii

Fringed Gentian Gentianopsis crinita

Downy Gentian Gentiana puberulent

There was Stiff Gentian Gentianella quinquefolia, too, but the flowers weren't open yet, so I didn't take time to photograph them. I know where there are some at Pheasant Branch Conservancy.

How about an orchid?

Great Plains lady's-tresses Spiranthes magnicamporum

Great Plains lady's-tresses Spiranthes magnicamporum

We did go birding earlier in the day at Pheasant Branch Conservancy's creek corridor and tallied 14 warbler species (checklist at the bottom of this post, as per usual). The best bird was a male Black-throated Blue Warbler and it gave us fantastic looks. Interestingly, the previous day I heard a series of chip notes I was fairly certain belonged to this species at the same spot, so I wasn't completely surprised to find one the following day.

I know it sounds crazy, but the longer I do this the better I get at identifying warblers via chip note. Case in point, a bit later during our hike I heard a series of scolding chips and announced to my birding companions "I believe it's two Ovenbirds having a disagreement." Upon scanning with our bins we found two agitated Ovenbirds in the dense understory. The fracas attracted other warblers that came down to see what all the fuss was about, giving us an opportunity to see them at eye level.

Warbler chip notes I know pretty well:

American Redstart
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Palm Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Waterthrush sp. (I can't tell NOWA from LOWA).
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

So far this season there haven't been many opportunities to digiscope warblers on account of dense foliage and how high up in the tree canopy they've been. Perhaps later on in September, once sparrows begin to take over the prairie, I'll collect and post more bird portraiture. I do have to say that macro photography is tremendously enjoyable and something satisfies my proclivities. As I've said before, when it comes to appreciating Nature, I can get pretty fanatical just about anything. Birds typically hold my interest, but any critter, insect, or wildflower will suffice.

Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus

And, naturally, we keep finding tree frogs!

Eastern Gray Treefrog Hyla sp.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Sep 4, 2017 7:46 AM - 11:21 AM
46 species

Canada Goose
Green Heron
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell

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