Monday, November 8, 2010

Michigan Lakeshore Birding Trip

Some folks were intently birding, others multi-tasking between texting and scoping...and despite being one of the tallest in the group, Tom wanted to get the true birds eye view.

A group of birders from the Madison Audubon Society birded the west shore of Lake Michigan from South Metro Pier in Oak Creek to North Point in Sheboygan this past Sunday. The group was led by Aaron Stutz with attendance by some of our favorite Madison area birding personalities. The weather was cooperative, the company good.

We were greeted by this sleepy-eyed Red Fox at our first stop of the day...

Soon after, the best bird and a lifer for many, a Red Phalarope, was found at South Metro Pier in Oak Creek. 

Red Phalarope

Red Phalarope

Red Phalarope

For comparison here are some photos of Red-necked Phalaropes taken this fall in the Gulf Stream off of the North Carolina Coast...

But back to Lake Michigan...Coming in at 2nd place for the trip was the Western Grebe found by Tom Prestby at the Texas Ave. Overlook in Milwaukee (no picture available, sorry).

Until the next time...Good times and good birding!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Milwaukee Lakeshore Birding

After having overnighted in Milwaukee following Farm Aid, my spouse and I checked out the bird activity at South Shore Yacht Club, the Coast Guard Impoundment and Lakeshore State Park on Sunday afternoon.  Although birds weren't necessarily numerous, the sightings were top quality. At the yacht club we had close looks at a colorful Ruddy Turnstone, a single Dunlin and a 15+ minute display of a Peregrine Falcon hunting the flocks of Rock Pigeons and gulls.
Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone
Peregrine chasing Rock Pigeons
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

The Coast Guard Impoundment was fairly uneventful. However, we were treated to close range views of a Cooper's Hawk perched along the fence as well as a Northern Harrier hunting the wetland.

Lakeshore State Park was fairly birdy with much migrant activity in the trees bordering Harbor Drive as well as in the prairie plantings at the park entrance.  Golden-crowned Kinglets were the predominate bird among an odd assortment of birds including Palm Warbler, Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  The weary migrants made for easy photography opportunities allowing me to approach most birds within a few feet.  Most amazing was the diversity of species we saw in a small narrow prairie planting approaching the park which included the following: Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Downy Woodpecker and Song Sparrow.

This little puff ball is a Golden-crowned Kinglet trying to warm
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Tree Sparrow

Finally my first of the year WI Orange-crowned Warbler
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Downy Woodpecker

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Parasitic Jaeger, Wisconsin Point, Douglas County, WI
Myself, spouse and good friends attended the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology sponsored Jaegerfest this weekend in Superior, WI.  I attend this event as much for the people as the birds. It seems to be a great opportunity to re-unite with birder friends as well as put faces to all the personalities that post on the Wisconsin Birding List.  

We stayed at the Super 8 in Superior which is minutes from Wisconsin Point.  All in all the motel was clean, but nothing spectacular. It definitely met our needs as a simple place to get a good night's rest since the beds seemed newer and were actually quite comfortable.  Also, Gronk's Grill and Bar is located next door, so if you are one of those people who bird by day and drink beer by night, aka "beer birding," this motel appears to be suited to such activities.  The continental breakfast warrants an honorable mention too for it's good selection of tasty homemade sweetbreads.

Part of the "Beer-birding" contingency
"Beer-birders" setting up to see some birds

The weekend in a nutshell....

Line of birders intently focused on seeing jaegers

After withstanding two days of either blustery NW winds and rain which caused expensive optics to take "headers" in the sand or frigid morning temps with lackluster distant showings of Parasitic Jaegers and Sabine's gulls that I never saw....FINALLY Sunday morning delivered the stuff Jaegerfest is made of.  Our group was among the small number of remaining birders on Sunday morning who were holding out hope for a spectacular jaeger showing.  Our "jaeger whispering" antics involving shots of jagermeister
the night before apparently paid off.  We were rewarded by the birding gods with near-range repeated Parasitic Jaeger flybys, acrobatic sparring between the jaeger and various gulls and long satisfying looks of said bird resting on the water offshore. 

Scenes from the weekend...

Gull flight at dawn

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse shrouded in a Sunday morning fog

 The star of the show...
Parasitic Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger chasing Ring-billed Gull
The supporting actors...
American Pipits commonly landed on the beach.

Franklin's Gull
Harris' Sparrow

Red-breasted Merganser

Yellow Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bonaparte's Gull

The people...

Tom Schulz, our trip leader, with Seth Cutright
Seth Cutright, Daryl Tessen and the ever popular, Tom Prestby
Dawn stake out for jaegers and rare gulls

Peter Bridge, Tim Hahn and Tom Prestby wondering, "Where are those Jaegers???"

After two days without seeing a jaeger, Paula was getting a little cranky:)

Tim showing frustration after not seeing any jaegers for 2 days!
Dinner at Grizzly's, a nightly event during Jaegerfest

Friday, July 30, 2010

Spring scenes from Jefferson County

Spring is a busy time for me, being both a gardener and a birder. This year I opted for more birding and no new garden projects mostly to allow me to play with my relatively newly purchased Canon 50D Digital SLR with it's 100-400mm zoom lens.  As a result of focusing on birds and hiking, my plans for starting vegetable seedlings was neglected.  I eventually had to opt for buying plants as my seedlings were a failure.  However, on the flip side I've been able to get out and shoot more bird and butterfly photos. Here are some taken in my home county...
The Yellow Warblers are one of the first warblers to return in spring. By May 1st (time ofthis photo) numerous were present along the Glacial Drumlin Trail in Lake Mills.

At Fauville Grove Sanctuary I 
found the following photogenic species... 
American Tree Swallows copulating
(fancy word for "doing it")  

White Crowned Sparrow

Ring-Necked Pheasant


This year has also been good for butterflies. Here are some Red Admirals with more photos of other butterflies to follow at a later posting