Tuesday, October 17, 2017


"Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself."

― Henry David Thoreau

Mornings have been cooler, necessitating a warmer jacket, gloves, and hat. The crisp air feels fresh to breathe in, plus it makes for excellent photography conditions. Hanging low in the eastern sky, the waning moon has been visible just above Venus. The thin crescent will probably disappear in the sun's glare before it overtakes Venus, which means absolutely nothing.

Birds flying above the fog.

Though both the moon and the sun influence earthly processes and are enjoyable to observe (and photograph), I'm mindful not to attribute sentimental agency to them. Having said that, the sensations and rewards of an early morning walk are restorative in a predictable physiological way―they are of great benefit to my sense of wellness and place. Perhaps therein lies the temptation to venerate.

Occasionally I go back and look at blog posts from a decade ago and reflect on how my creativity and thinking has evolved. Sometimes I'm a little embarrassed at things I've written, but I tend to leave them online. The purpose of blogging hasn't changed, though. I merely want to show people how much flora and fauna can be found even in an urbanized setting. Though my content rarely ever shows it, the city is never far away from all I've presented here.

Since the beginning of October, I've observed over 80 bird species at the prairie. There have been exciting raptors like Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and seasonal specialties like American Pipits, Pine Siskins, and Winter Wrens. Fox Sparrows are just beginning to arrive, and I'm expecting to see Lapland Longspurs, American Tree Sparrows, and the first Northern Shrike soon.

Fox Sparrow

Palm Warbler

Though I've scoured even the under-birded areas of Pheasant Branch Conservancy's prairie, Harris's Sparrow continues to be elusive. Perhaps I won't get to see one this year, and that's fine. They've been at the prairie four years in a row, which is itself pretty incredible. The White-crowned Sparrow population at the prairie continues to grow, so I'll keep an eye out for Harris's.

White-crowned Sparrow (immature)

White-crowned Sparrow

Enjoy what remains of October!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Oct 16, 2017 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM
48 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell

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