Sunday, January 28, 2018

Birding under Blue Skies

"But only a person in the depths of despair neglected to look beyond winter to the spring that inevitably followed, bringing back color and life and hope."

― Mary Balogh

Pheasant Branch Prairie

Our freakishly strange oscillating winter continued with spring-like conditions all day on Saturday. And today? Fresh snow and a 25 degree temperature drop. The birding was pretty decent along the creek corridor and near the Conservancy Condos, but the prairie was rather devoid of birds. However, there were loads of people enjoying the trails and nice weather. As per usual, some were doing things they weren't supposed to, like allowing their dogs off-leash and walking off-trail. It drives me especially crazy when I see people trampling on the prairie remnant on drumlin's west slope.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

In addition to the gathering of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and sparrows, many finches were perched high up in the branches against the deep blue sky. Sprightly Common Redpolls can be tricky to photograph, and I would have preferred one in front of a branch rather than behind. Still, these are about the best I've ever managed to get of this species. Dottie and Sylvia enjoyed watching them through their binoculars. Sylvia said these were the first she's seen in many years.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Further on down the trail we came upon a Great Horned Owl on a large stick nest, probably constructed last year by Red-tailed Hawks. These owls are the earliest breeders in Wisconsin, and by now the female is likely incubating a clutch of eggs. How many will there be? Two? Three? We'll just have to wait and see. No matter where we stood the owl kept her keen gaze in our direction. My companions and I spent a few minutes attempting to locate the male, but to no avail. No doubt, though, he was perched nearby keeping a watchful eye on his mate ... and us!

Great Horned Owl

An Eastern Gray Squirrel takes a breather ...

Eastern Gray Squirrel

And the moon slowly rose over the prairie ...

Later on at night I went back outside to take higher resolution photographs of the moon. I'm aware that there's a lunar eclipse in a few days, but I'm not going to wake up that early in the morning to photograph it. The lunar eclipse I photographed in 2015 will give you some idea what to expect, should you decide to try and view it. You may have also heard the moon is going to be super, bloody, and blue. Well, you know how I feel about that particular kind of hype and nonsense. To me, the Earth's natural satellite is always spectacular and we're fortunate to have such a stunningly beautiful celestial object close enough to observe and photograph.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jan 27, 2018 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
30 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Eastern Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Great photos as always. I have been having fun watching Cornell's Live Bird Cam in Panama (Fruit Feeder at Canopy Lodge in Panama). The feeder is tidied up and the fruit replenished throughout the day and I counted 18 different species plus some pretty little orange tailed squirrels who love bananas. The ambient jungle sounds are very pleasant, too as is just seeing somewhere warm. They have some amazing birds in Panama and it is a nice way to relax on a cold winter's day.