Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Birding at Koshkonong State Wildlife Area

Just a little over a week ago, I decided to check out a birding location new to me, the southern section of Koshkonong State Wildlife Area.  I had often driven by this spot along Koshkonong Mounds Road and suspected these grasslands could be good for sparrows. The DNR website describes this particular habitat as oak savannah. In addition to the savannah, the perimeter consists of a mix of fruit bearing shrubs, pine stands to the south, old growth deciduous forest to the north and ag fields to east.  While songbird diversity is generally low this time of year, I've been impressed with the number of birds seen at this location.  The edge habitat along the grassland has proven to attract good numbers of migrant songbirds over the course of my three visits in the past week.

On my most recent visit (October 22) both kinglets were numerous. I spent a bit of time being entertained by this particular Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Several Hermit Thrushes and American Robins were feasting on a variety of fruiting shrubs.

Hermit Thrush
This particular fruit, possibly a crab apple was a favorite of the robins.

A week ago the Yellow-rumped Warblers were coming through in peak numbers and feeding on the copious amounts of poison ivy fruit.

Yellow-rumped Warbler eating Poison Ivy fruit 10/15/2013
Those vines were stripped clean by October 22nd.

Poison Ivy Vine 10/22/2013

I was surprised to find a Sedge Wren quietly traveling with a Common Yellowthroat. Both are considered late sightings for October 22nd.

Sedge Wren

While generally speaking, sparrow diversity and numbers are decreasing, Dark-eyed Juncos and Fox Sparrows are on the increase.

Dark-eyed Junco, male

White-crowned sparrows are still present. Most birds observed have been hatch years.

Hatch year White-crowned Sparrow

I managed to find a lone Lincoln's Sparrow toward the end of my 3 hour walk. I suspect this may be the last one I see at this location.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Brown Creeper's were quite active, but with poor lighting and their frequent movement, I couldn't manage a reasonable photo.

Despite the freezing temperatures, a few dragonflies and other flies still managed to persist.

While I spent the majority of my time birding the edge of savannah, I did venture into the forest for a short while where I found a single persisting Tall Bellflower in bloom.

Tall Bellflower

Dunna-dun-dun-dun another one bites the dust...Something enjoyed a Blue Jay for its meal.

Blue Jay feathers

Total species for my 3.5 hour outing on October 22nd was 33 which seems somewhat low. However the number of birds present provided me plenty of entertainment.

Virginia Creeper

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