Sunday, April 01, 2018

A Cold April Begins!

"April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."

― T.S. Eliot

Home Base

This was the view out my bedroom window early Saturday morning: cold, windy, rainy, and very monochromatic. I checked radar and waited for the wet weather to end before heading out to the confluence pond along Deming Way. Once there I found my first of year (FOY) Great Egret huddled at the far end of the pond. The big white bird looked a bit like it wished it had stayed south a little longer. Winds were out of the south during the night, so temperatures eventually reached into the forties. However, by the end of the day northwest winds prevailed, bringing in cold air once again.

Great Egret

I spent part of Saturday and Sunday birding along the creek corridor for spring migrants. New arrivals included Blue-winged Teal, Purple Finch, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and more Eastern Phoebes. But before I get into that, here are some photographs of Common Loons at the northwest corner of Lake Mendota:

Common Loon

And now back to the creek corridor ...

Shy Fox Sparrows could be heard singing their melodious songs throughout the corridor, but none could be found within the range of my lens. In jest, they're about the same color as this pine cone! Most were too far back in the understory or too obstructed for photographs. In general, I have an easier time photographing Fox Sparrows during fall migration at the prairie.

Wood Duck (female)

Sunday's introductory temperature was 18° Fahrenheit ― pretty chilly for the first day of April. I entered the corridor trail from the west end near the Big-tooth Aspens. There, I found three Wood Ducks perched in the trees: two females and a single male. I do wish they wouldn't make such a fuss whenever they see people on the trail below. However, I did notice that those with dogs were given harsher warnings from the male.

Carolina Wren

Traveling east, I eventually I crossed the trail at Park Street. Not far after the first bridge I heard a Carolina Wren singing away. No doubt, the same wren I photographed a few weeks ago. There is another pair north of Century Avenue near the Conservancy Condos, but that's too distant to be the same birds. This particular male was perched atop a large dead tree, broadcasting his cheerful song throughout the bowl carved out of the ravine by decades of erosion. It's sort of like having its own acoustical amphitheater. Too bad the juncos weren't listening. But the wren's mate was! I found her perched on a branch several feet below him. Eventually both birds hopped down to the understory to resume foraging ... or perhaps nest maintenance ... or maybe something else.

I mean he is a fine looking bird, after all!

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Want a serious challenge? Try digiscoping a kinglet! These were among my first Golden-crowned Kinglets of spring migration. Despite chilly temps, the kinglets were quite active in the understory during early morning; some were foraging through grass along the corridor hiking path. Watching them carefully, they definitely seemed to be finding food items. They'll make it!

Let's slow things down ...

Tweeze and munch!

Seriously, what luck to record a series of images of a kinglet feeding. See? They really can find food in super-cold weather! Not unlike Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers, the kinglets probed through dead leaves on branches for concealed arthropods. If you carefully look at the third photograph in this series, you can see the bird successfully locates a tiny morsel.

And finally ... look who has little ones!

Great Horned Owls

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Apr 1, 2018 9:00 AM - 11:31 AM
36 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay 
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
Purple Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

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