Sunday, April 29, 2018

It's Safe!

"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can offer with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation, but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession."

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Palm Warbler

My late April warbler report is rather mediocre, but the birding is always good. In addition to a dozen Myrtle Warblers, yesterday my crew found a Pine Warbler and a Palm Warbler along the creek corridor of Pheasant Branch. By this time in past years I've observed around a dozen warbler species, so migration continues to be stalled on account of north winds. But that's going to change tonight! Winds are finally shifting and I expect to find orioles, tanagers, thrushes, and many more warblers in the next few days. However, as a case of direct evidence against uniqueness, I diverted my attention to other nature endeavors in the form of spring ephemeral wildflowers given the dearth of wood warblers.

Pheasant Branch Prairie

The prairie remnant at Pheasant Branch wasn't burned this spring, but there were still blooming Pasque Flowers to be found. While photographing the flowers, I heard my FOY (first of year) Brown Thrasher singing from the north side of the drumlin. On my way up the hill I found a gorgeous adult White-crowned Sparrow, which was also my first of the year. We've been blessed the past several days with clear skies and gorgeous weather, though mornings are still quite cool.

Pasque Flowers

And others ...


Wild Ginger

Round-lobed Hepatica

Me, Sylvia Marek, and Dottie Johnson wanted more nature after our creek corridor hike, so we decided to head to Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills to see what wildflowers were open. Within minutes of our arrival we found blooming Bloodroot and Round-lobed Hepatica, but Trout Lilies were still closed. Bird-wise, it was pretty quiet. We heard a Louisiana Waterthrush, but that was the only warbler present. Two Broad-winged Hawks flew over, and there was a Turkey Vulture. There were two other species, but I can't think of them at the moment. It was very quiet. In fact, about the only sound was wind blowing through tall pines and the gurgling of Otter Creek.

Nowadays, any notion of secret or under-explored natural areas seems naive the moment you find a beer can or plastic bottle on the ground. Undoubtedly, someone has been there before. Anyway, finding gold beneath the noses of the masses is more fun. Metaphorically, anyone can find treasure at the end of a rainbow. Don't get me wrong, though, I do like quiet patches of habitat where one can decompress and enjoy one's solitude, but to laud over it and brag about finding so-called "secret places" on social media seems rather childish. Finding a nice warbler haunt or good tiger beetle spot near my apartment? Now that's pure gold.

Baxter's Hollow

Wood Frog

Whenever we visit Baxter's Hollow there's always what we call "the coolest thing." One time it was hundreds of puddling Tiger Swallowtails, and another it was a singing Hooded Warbler at close range. On this occasion it was a small ephemeral pond full of Wood Frogs. What a riot they were! It was impossible not to laugh at their crazy chorus and amorous behavior.

But all good outings in Nature come to a end ...

And the Moon helps see to the next day ...

And that's April. See you in May!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Apr 28, 2018 6:00 AM - 10:50 AM
54 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Lesser Scaup
Hooded Merganser
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Lesser Yellowlegs
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Clay-colored Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Love the frogs. The coolest thing I ever saw at the hollow was a hummingbird nest that I just found by accident. It was so tiny that I never would have seen it if I had actually been looking for it. Love the frog photos!!