Friday, May 21, 2010

Remmie? dropped by tonight

He's going for the top now perching by the cross.

A strikingly handsome bird indeed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Remmie?

May 2nd, 2010 while gardening in the yard, my husband and I noted a Peregrine fly over our yard and land on the church steeple up the hill behind our house.  Our first thoughts were, "Woo hoo! New yard bird." Our 2nd was that this bird was a one hit wonder migrant using the church for a temporary roost. However, the eve of May 14 the Peregrine was back, this time feasting on some bird atop one of the church peaks. May 15 in the early a.m. before heading out for an all day birding excursion we checked for the bird to find him flying back into his perch with a freshly killed Mourning Dove.

Over the course of these 3 visits,  my photographs have dramatically improved. The last of these allowed me to make out numbers and colors of bands on the bird's leg.  These were entered into the Midwest Peregrine Database.  Originally I was thinking this bird was "Bennie" who hailed from the Cargill Malt Complex in Jefferson, WI. However, after re-examining the band and how bands are reported in the database, I have deduced this bird is actually named "Remmie", banded in 2008 at
WEPCO Pleasant Prairie Power Plant, Pleasant Prairie
Kenosha county, WI.  Jury's out. I've made contact with the Peregrine Database and await their reply.  Totally cool whatever this bird's name is.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bass Hollow

This past weekend (May 15) we decided to return to Bass Hollow Recreation Area in Juneau County. We discovered this area a few years ago when we were returning from a trip to Adams County to see the Kirtland's Warbler. Our last time visiting we only had a couple of hours to scratch the surface of this magical place.  The Bass Hollow Recreation Area is adjacent to the Bass Hollow State Natural Area.

Although this area is likely less pristine when compared to its counterpart state natural area, it still abounds with more varieties of woodland flowers and spring ephemerals than I have seen in most
Wisconsin landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a handful of Giant Yellow Lady Slippers among the diverse array of woodland flowers.

Even more amazing was the abundance of Bishop's Cap extending its delicate sprays of white among the Trillium, ferns and other numerous woodland flowers.

We hiked the 3 mile loop trail (plus some side exploratory jaunts) in 7 hours, at a snail's pace, absorbing the bird, plant and butterfly life.  Unfortunately we had no trail map to guide us at our starting point, so we embarked on the trail with blind curiosity.  We put our faith in the lone hiker we encountered at the beginning of the trail.  She assured us the trail was a loop that took about an hour to complete. Approximately 2 miles into the hike, we finally located a posted map confirming the trail was indeed a loop. Seven hours later we completed the "about an hour" 3 mile trail.

We entered the hollow from the parking area off Hwy. K. The trail traversed immediately down a slope of disturbed habitat of downed trees teaming with native ephemerals and ferns.

We immediately encountered very visible singing Mourning and Cerulean Warblers on this section of trail.

After about 50-100 feet, the trail opened on to a small field, Flambeau Field, with a sign directing us southeast on the loop trail into the hollow. Following this path, we were led through more disturbed forest and more encounters with Mourning Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, other migrating warblers, Wood Thrush, Ovenbirds and many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

However, if one were short on time, an alternative to the loop trail would be a hike in and out on the same trail, picking up a part of the loop on the northeast side of Flambeau Field.  This unmarked trek across Flambeau Field to the northeast corner and edge of the field quickly reveals an obvious trail which is actually the endpoint for the loop trail if one follows the signs.  Taking this route, one more quickly advances into the shaded old growth habitat of this area where Acadian Flycatchers can be easily seen and heard.

On this visit we opted for a leisurely exploration of  the entire the loop and followed the well-marked trail in the southeast direction where the signs pointed. This southeast path, eventually meandered into the heart of the hollow where open disturbed forest was replaced by old growth shade and we encountered Acadian Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Louisana Waterthrush.  The terrain in this area was relatively steep in sections with wide paths that rose and descended in and among the hollow. Hiking poles were useful as knee-saving and balancing devices for the down hill sections and rocky creek crossings.

The area also seemed to attract butterflies.  On this particular day I found the following four species:

Duskywing species????
???Pearl Crescent butterfly

After our extended loop hike. We decided to briefly investigate the access points into the state natural area off of Cowan Rd. The trails into the Bass Hollow State Natural Area resemble narrow, barely distinct game trails that seem to peter out and involve some bush-whacking to follow. Perhaps this will be an adventure for another day as I am intrigued of reports that this habitat supports Nodding Pogonias.

Total Bird Species: 68 (including 19 warbler species of which 2 were 'picked up' at a nearby marsh)

Bird Highlights: 2 Common Ravens, 1 Olive-sided and 5 Acadian Flycatchers; Magnolia, 2 Blackburnian, 3 Cape May, 2 Hooded, 5 Mourning, 6 Cerulean Warblers; 1 Louisiana Waterthrush, 1 Gray-cheeked Thrush, 3 Veery and 6 Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

Plant Highlights: Wild Geranium (common), Yellow Lady Slipper, Trillium Grandiflorum (abundant), Maiden Hair Fern (common), Bishop's Cap (abundant), Jack-in-the-pulpit, American Cancer-root, Rue Anemone and Yellow Forest Violet.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Birds around the yard

The house wren was checking out nesting possibilities this morning.

Later this eve I discovered the Peregrine Falcon we thought was a migrant passing through two weeks ago seems to have stuck around the church behind our house. I spotted him feasting on some creature up at one of the peaks and then later photographed and videoscoped him preening.

This was followed by a "fat's man nap" aka "food coma."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bird Migration Ramping Up

Yesterday morning Wisconsin birders had their first warbler fall-out of the season with 20+ warbler species in one morning. By the time I got off of work, the wind was blowing at crazy gusts and I was lucky to come up with 4 warbler species in the Lake Mills area. Funny how work gets in the way of spring migration.

Tonight I made a quick drive to Faville Grove Sanctuary as part of my scouting efforts for the Madison Area Audubon's Big Day birding competition. Found my first-of-the-year White-crowned sparrows which seem to be moving through in high numbers. 

Tree swallows were 'gettin' busy' bondage style.

I also found some stunning Ring-necked Pheasants in the expanse of prairie habitat.