Getting rained out in the search of the Kirtland's Warbler, Chris and I decided to head to Necedah Wildlife Refuge which was not far from Adams County. Yes, we also had to deal with some rain in this location as well, but we also had many various roads to travel and some of the birding could be done within the confines of the vehicle. This place was also a high priority spot because it is one of the best places to find the endangered Whooping Crane.
This bird's population had dwindled to a mere 21 wild and 2 captive birds in 1941. Through major conservation efforts the numbers of this bird have rebounded to over 400 in the wild and another 150+ in captivity. At Necedah, there are a few breeding pairs and they are very cautiously monitored. A quick stop at the Visitor's Center and we quickly got some location information as to where they have been seen most frequently. So away we went with our target bird in mind and the location imprinted in our minds. As we followed the roads in the rain, we finally arrived at our destination and quickly discovered, not one, but two, Whooping Cranes. They were fairly close to the road and since it was still raining, we opted to get photos from the vehicle. We stayed dry and the cranes were not stressed with people standing nearby. What a treat to add this endangered bird to my life list within a couple of hours after hearing another threatened bird, the Kirtland's Warbler. (If you look closely at these photos, you can see the raindrops around the cranes.)
This last photo was taken later in the day, when we made another visit to the original spot. Appears to be nesting, but cannot be sure.
Whooping Cranes were not the only birds we encountered at this location. Near the Visitor's Center, we were graced with Red-headed Woodpeckers, which is one of the most dramatic looking woodpeckers in the United States. One can easily see how it got its name.
Finally got a decent photo of an Eastern Towhee after seeing many along the way in less than perfect settings for photos.
Near the Visitor's Center we were greeted by a Least Flycatcher; another lifer and another one of those birds from the Empidonax family. Once again the call notes were the key to identification.
And finally after hearing the Yellow-throated Vireo just about everywhere we visited, we finally had one that gave us great views. Of course it had to at the tops of the trees, which allowed for mediocre photos.
An American Bittern also flushed near us when we were on the boardwalk near the Visitor's Center.
The butterflies were numerous and very colorful. Took a while to identify some of them since I am not a butterfly expert and some of these are not found in Arizona.
American Copper Butterfly
Common Buckeye Butterfly
Common Ringlet Butterfly
Young White-tailed Deer
Will attempt to wrap up the last of my Wisconsin trip in one more post.