Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Migration Trickles In...

Earlier this week we had a brief burst of spring-like weather with south winds and temps nearly rising to 60° F. With that came the first appreciable spring migrants as well as an increase in the courtship activity of some of our year-round southern Wisconsin birds.

Palmyra Environmental Learning Center
S. Kettle Moraine State Forest

However, Mother Nature quickly pissed on spring, pulling the rug out from beneath the season in true Wisconsin style. Despite her continuing to punish us with arctic air and threats of snow, there continues to be enough novelty in my birding excursions to maintain a low level of excitement for the trickling start to spring migration.

Brown Creeper, 31Mar2014
Pheasant Branch Conservancy
Sweet melodious songs of Brown Creepers and migrating Fox Sparrows project above the din of the barren leafless woods, where patches of snow remain in the shade, and the browns of fall persist.

Fox Sparrow
Jefferson Co, 30Mar2014

Brilliant Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers puncture the muted colors of the barely waking landscape with their crimson red and pale yellow plumage.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Palmyra Camp, 1Apr2014

Ducks continue to find temporary reprieve on ponds, flooded fields, rivers and lakes.

On April 1st, strong west-southwest winds blew a few Franklin's Gulls into the state. Seeing reports of this species in Dane county, I ventured out in my home county of Jefferson. A quick check on one of my "gull fields" northwest of Palmyra yielded a single bird in nice breeding plumage.

Franklin's Gull, Palmyra, 1Apr2014

A few scattered observations of shorebirds were reported in southern Wisconsin this week including record early Baird's Sandpiper in three separate locations on April 2nd. What the hell got into those birds?

Besides seeing several first of the year (FOY) birds this week including Franklin's Gull, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Phoebe and Tree Swallow, the highlight was finding a singing Carolina Wren at the Palmyra Educational Center in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Eastern Phoebe, Palmyra Camp, 1Apr2014

Carolina Wren, Palmyra Camp, 1Apr2014

While the trees remain devoid of warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets are keeping me company on my walks.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Fort Atkinson 2Apr2014

And the American Robins are looking rather dashing....

American Robin, Palmyra Camp, 1Apr2014

Before you know it the sensory overload of spring will arrive...

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