I could probably make at least 2 more blog posts on my trip to Wisconsin, but instead I am going to attempt to wrap it up in one last post. This might be a tad long, and will have a lot of photos, but I need to move on to more birding adventures.
Finally it was time to return to the Manitowoc area, but before we did, we wanted to visit a spot that some others had recommended to us when we were at Horicon. So we found our way to the Sandhill Wildlife Refuge just north of Necedah. What a great little jewel this place was and it is grossly under birded. We had heard from these people that it was a great place to see Golden-winged Warblers and that was one species that had eluded us so far. But that changed quickly at this location. This bird hybridizes quite easily with Blue-winged Warblers. And as the BWWA's range has expanded northward, the GWWA's range is shrinking and their numbers are falling. That is not a good option in the scheme of the avian world. What a handsome warbler!
As we were driving the road, I finally got my first visual look at a Black-billed Cuckoo, another new life bird. It was rather surprising that this bird was not as elusive and skittish as the Yellow-billed species found in Arizona.
After catching fleeting glimpses and hearing Veerys at other spots in Wisconsin, we finally had a couple of them cooperate with us and allowed some photos.
Ovenbirds and American Redstarts were numerous as well.
A couple of butterflies from this spot:
Northern Crescent Butterfly
White Admiral Butterfly
Next stop on the way to home base was the Buena Vista Grasslands/Marsh area. In the winter this location is a good spot for Short-eared Owls, but this time of year, not so much. So we settled for some birds of the grasslands such as this Grasshopper Sparrow.
We discovered another Least Flycatcher after finding one the day before at Necedah.
Apparently this area is probably good for Greater Prairie Chickens as well after seeing the signs that are posted throughout the area.
Finally we headed back to the Manitowoc area and made one more stop at the Manitowoc Impoundment where we detected a Great Black-backed Gull. This bird was a lifer for me earlier in the year when Tommy and I made a visit with Josh to the Canal Park in Duluth, MN. This one was much closer and allowed for a better photo.
Great Black-backed Gull
The next day was one of local travelling and checking out the shores along Lake Michigan and surprisingly, Chris spotted another unusual gull and it turned out to be my last life bird on my trip; A Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Lessser Black-backed Gull
The birds around water are constantly on the move and are ever changing in diversity. This day belonged to the Bonaparte's Gull. We had well over 100 of these birds and this is actually the first time I have seen one in adult breeding plumage.
Flock of Bonaparte's Gulls
Common Grackles were aptly named as they were very common. When presented in proper sunlight, they sparkle and look very attractive.
Other critters seen at various spots.
The beach on Lake Michigan
Red Admiral Butterfly
Finally it was time to head back to Chicago to catch my flight home. It was bittersweet and ominous as well. because the temperature forecast in Arizona the day after I returned home was 120° F. That was not something to look forward to. So on the way back to Chicago, I made one last stop at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin just north of the Illinois border. Did not find any new species, but enjoyed seeing a pair of Sandhill Cranes with 2 young in the grass. Bobolink males and females made a great showing along with a Gray Catbird and I finally had a Common Yellowthroat perch in the open long enough to capture a couple of photos.
Sandhill Crane with 2 colts in the grass at lower left.
Bobolink - Female
Bobolink - Male
I ended up with 21 new life birds on this trip. Missed a few target birds, but got the two rarest birds and plenty more. Wonder where my next adventure will lead and how much closer can I get to the magical number 700 life birds?