Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wisconsin - Part 4

Must apologize to those that are following my journey in Wisconsin.  I had another commitment to show a friend from New York, the White Mountain area of Arizona and try to pursue some birds and I had to put the blogging on hold for about 3 days.  And another friend arrived into Mesa and we took in the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, so it has definitely put me behind in blogging.  

Next trip was to visit Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and on the way, we made a side trip to Killsnake State Wildlife Refuge and it did not take long to pickup my 10th new life bird on this Wisconsin adventure; the Bobolink.  This was my first viewing of this bird that has always intrigued me when studying field guides.  Reminds me of a blackbird in a tuxedo.  Before my trip came to an end, I got to see several of these birds.  


As we started to exit this area, and as we were driving very slowly along the gravel road, we came upon a bird that has been a nemesis for me in Arizona; the Clay-colored Sparrow.  They occur regularly in Arizona in the winter months, although they are not common.  And they can be a bit difficult to identify from the many Brewer's Sparrows we see in winter in Arizona.  But looks are deceiving, because when they are singing, their songs are so different from each other.  In Arizona, they are very rarely singing.

 Clay-colored Sparrow

At Horicon, the Sandhill Cranes were scattered in many places and it was interesting to see them in breeding condition.  Spending 20 years in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska, I was used to seeing this bird yearly in spring migration in the hundreds of thousands.  I have also seen many in Arizona in the winter.  But these in Wisconsin were brown instead of gray!  Apparently this reddish-brown coloration is due to them preening with muddy bills and this coloration matches the color of many of the fields where they forage.  

 Sandhill Crane

Other birds that we found at Horicon, include Black Terns, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Barn Swallows, and a fledgling Red-winged Blackbird.
 Red-winged Blackbird - Fledgling

 Black Tern

 Eastern Kingbird

 Eastern Wood-Pewee

 Barn Swallow

For me, one of the coolest critters to find was a Snapping Turtle.  Not an animal that one wants to mess with because if they latch onto you, they have a lot of power in those jaws and they can break bones in fingers and they do not like to let go! 

 Snapping Turtle

Painted Turtle

Chris taking photos

We returned fairly early as we needed to prepare for the next part of our journey and it included some overnight stays in central and southwestern Wisconsin.  But on the way home, we made another stop of the Manitowoc Impoundment to see if anything new was being seen.  The American White Pelicans were in high numbers and had been absent for several years.  We also had high numbers of Caspian Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls.  

 American White Pelican

 Caspian Terns, Forster's Tern, and Bonaparte's Gulls

 Caspian Tern

Semipalmated Sandpiper

The next day we were to journey to the far corner of the state to pursue some warblers and some rarities in the central part of the state.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Wisconsin - Part 3

When I first set out making blog posts on this trip to Wisconsin, I had no idea how many posts it was going to take, but I think I can safely say, there will be more than I anticipated.  This third day, Chris and I, headed north to the Green Bay area and the first stop was Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.  This was a great place with a lot of birds.  The waterfowl area provided us with Trumpeter and Tundra Swans and my first ever American Black Duck. 

 American Black Duck

 Trumpeter Swan

Tundra Swan

Of course there were many other birds to be found at this location and some were birds that I had not seen for sometime and it was fun to observe and try to get some photos as well.  

 American Goldfinch

 Brown Thrasher - Doing what it does best; hiding from the camera!

 Purple Martin

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey with 3 chicks (one in the lower left corner in the grass, hard to see)

Next stop was the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Arboretum - Lambeau Cottage.  The place did not offer any new life birds for me but I finally was able to get a photos of a Great-crested Flycatcher.  My first sighting was not a great one and definitely no photos.  This bird is a member of the Myiarchus flycatcher family and is the eastern version of some of the Myiarchus flycatchers found in the western part of the United States  Some times they can be hard to identify, but their call notes are all very different, so learning those calls is vital to identification many times.  

 Great-crested Flycatcher

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is probably the most recognized species of hummingbird in the United States, as it is the only species seen on a regular basis throughout the eastern part of the US.  In Arizona alone, we have 15 species of hummingbirds; some are easier to find than others, but most are reported at least once a year.  This was not a life bird as I had seen a female in Texas two years ago, so being able to finally see a male and get photos was a great success in my opinion.  This bird and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker below were visitors to the back yard of Chris's grandmother.  

 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

More to come on future posts.  Just too many birds to include all on just a couple of posts.  And there is going to be about a 3 day break from future posts due to an upcoming trip to a place with cooler temps!  


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wisconsin - Part 2

The next day of my trip, I met up with Chris and we did not waste anytime in getting out to search for birds.  We started with some local spots, Molash Creek and Woodland Dunes, and found the deep, dark, and shady trails were swarming with birds.  But alas, they were also swarming with some much smaller critters, known as mosquitoes.  But that was to be expected and we did not let it stop us in our hunt for those birds.

I quickly discovered how common Red-eyed Vireos were in Wisconsin.  I had seen this bird once before at High Island, Texas, but it was just a brief glimpse and of course I was not able to capture any photos that time.  This time was different, since they were very common and singing just about everywhere we visited, one of them in Molash Creek gave us great view and some much needed photos.  (To bad the birds cannot communicate to other birds to let them know that we mean them no harm, and just want to see them and take a couple of photos!)

 Red-eyed Vireo

Another bird that was abundant just about everywhere was the American Redstart.  Yes, we do see a few of these birds yearly in the winter in Arizona, but they are rarely very vocal when we get them in AZ.  But in Wisconsin, they were very vocal and active.

 American Redstart

One of my new life birds that I added on this day was the Eastern Towhee.  The Spotted Towhee is very common in Arizona and one that I am very familiar with.  At one time in the past, the Eastern Towhee and the Spotted Towhee were considered one species; the Rufous-sided Towhee.  But the Rufous-sided Towhee was split into Eastern Towhee and Spotted Towhee some years ago and after seeing and hearing the Eastern Towhee, they are definitely different in my opinion.  While the photos are not what I would have liked on this first sighting, I was able to see more during my stay and got a better photo at a later date. 

 Eastern Towhee

Other cool birds in the forest that were not life birds but still awesome to see and hear were Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, and a fledgling White-breasted Nuthatch.  We would have not seen the nuthatch had it not been for a parent bird coming in to offer some food tidbits.

 Black-throated Green Warbler


 White-breasted Nuthatch - Fledgling

Next stop was Woodland Dunes in Two Rivers which is another wonderful spot.  I picked up 3 new life birds at this spot; Alder Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, and Sedge Wren.  The only bird of these 3 that I was able to photograph was Alder Flycatcher; the other 2 proved to be very elusive.

Alder Flycatcher

But there were plenty of other birds at this location that very cooperative for photos including some Chimney Swifts, which I had never photographed before.

 Chimney Swift

 American Goldfinch - Male

 American Goldfinch - Female

 Cedar Waxwing

 Swanp Sparrow

 Yellow Warbler

From here we ventured a short distance to the Manitowoc Impoundment on the shores of Lake Michigan. Naturally this was a complete different habitat that resulted in all new species.

 Caspian Tern

Common Grackle

Later that evening Chris and I headed to the home of his brother who claimed they had a pair of nesting Merlins near their back yard.  While we were not able to see the nest itself, the Merlins were definitely there and one of them even landed on a pole in their back yard.


And as usual, at the end of the post are some other photos that were interesting to me along the way.

 Painted Turtle

Definitely a full day of birding and by this time, I had picked up 7 new life birds so far.  I have many more to come and will be mentioning several on some future posts.