Friday, May 30, 2014

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Prothonotary Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 8May2014
On May 8, the parade of warblers finally began in earnest with the first big push of warblers into southern Wisconsin. Prior to that, April had ended in a lackluster fashion in which an unfavorable weather system kept the influx of spring migrants at bay. We birders kept birding, hoping, watching the weather and "birdars," feverishly awaiting the warbler waves. Then, BOOM, May 8, the onslaught of the warbler parade commenced as a remedy for our deprived senses. Seeing the delightfully colorful songsters light up the trees and shrubs was nothing short of pure gold. I enjoyed some intimate moments with an array of migrant songbirds coming down to feed on insects near the creek where I and many others flocked to witness the extravaganza. I was afforded some crushing photo opportunities where not only my lens, but soul seemed to connect with these avian delights. It's been both exhausting and exhilarating.

Each spring migration holds its own uniqueness.  This year, due to cooler temps and a late spring, migration was highlighted by low feeding warblers amidst a minimally foliaged landscape. The delayed leaf-out lended to stunning unobstructed views. In addition I engaged in more social birding as opposed to my typical solitary routine. My relationships with birder friends blossomed or re-kindled after lying dormant during winter months. Additionally, I found myself experiencing all aspects of this migration with the acute feeling that each moment could be my last...

With each passing wave I was left ravaging for more birds.

However, I have realized I could never sustain the sort of power birding and minimal sleep that inevitably envelopes my life in May.

So perhaps there is a silver lining to the fact that ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END.


At the time of this writing I find myself at the close of May with a compelling sense of loneliness. Nearly all of the migrants are long gone. And like the ephemeral wildflowers of spring, my relationships with people, also appear to be senescing. As with anything in nature, it's all so temporary...the birds move on and people do too. The parting is bittersweet. I hold on dearly in my mind's eye and heart to all that has transpired.  Here these recent memories will endure until they are replaced or fade with the gift I know as "time."

What follows are some of the cast of characters that danced with my spirit and exalted ordinary to extraordinary during the past few weeks...

The traditional first warbler of spring, the Yellow-Rumped male...

One of the early mini-warbler waves on April 22, produced several Pine Warblers along the Emma Carlin Trails in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest (Jefferson County)...

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers were more than accommodating this spring. Some will stay in the area to breed.

 This Worm-eating Warbler visited Fox Park Sanctuary (Waukesha County)  for few days in late April...

Black-and-White Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy (Dane County) 3May2014...

Cape May Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 8May2014...

Blackburnian Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 9May2014...

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 9May2014...

Tennessee Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 9May2014...

Northern Parula, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 9May2014...

Scarlet Tanager, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 9May2014...

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy on 12May2014...

Magnolia Warbler eating a crane fly, Pheasant Branch Conservancy on 12May2014...

Black-throated Blue Warbler, female, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 14May2014

Canada Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy on 14May2014...

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy on 14May2014...

Magnolia Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy on 14May2014...

Singing Veery, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 14May2014...

American Redstart, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 14May2014

Blackpoll Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 14May2014...

A disapproving look from a Wilson's Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 13May2014...

Black-and-White Warbler (male), Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 20May2014...

Bay-breasted Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 20May2014...

Northern Waterthrush, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 20May2014...

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 20May2014...

Looking for the Connecticut Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 20May2014...


I already find myself missing it...


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lake Superior, The Sea of Possibilities

...up there -- there is a sea....


Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities...
~ from Horses by Patti Smith


Lake Superior, my first love, my heart.





As we always do, you and I had a good conversation on this day.





You listen to my secrets...





And tug at my heart strings... 





...to keep me by your shore forever





I have never seen you in such a state... 
and so unexpected for late May...





But that is the greatness of you, never ceasing to amaze me.
I hear you calling me home....



Monday, May 19, 2014

Rain-kissed Spring Ephemerals


As May begins to wind down, I feel exhaustion setting in as life has been moving less at the speed of a plant and more at the frenetic pace of an American Redstart or Ruby-crowned Kinglet during migration. I've resisted the urge to get adequate rest in lieu of seizing the short window of time in which not only are birds moving through southern Wisconsin, but the landscape is continually changing over in waves of spring ephemerals.

Rue Anemone

Surely this is a season of sensory overload...

Starry False Solomon's Seal

The late morning to early afternoon are typically the ideal time to take a break from birding to enjoy the ever-changing plantlife that emerges, blooms and quickly senesces during spring.

Wild Geranium
In between rain showers today, I found myself wandering in a new area in Dane County. My attention quickly turned to the ground where I became enamoured with the various wildflowers and ferns decorated with raindrops.

Starry False Solomon's Seal

Starry False Solomon's Seal

I found my favorite fern newly emerging....

Maiden Hair Fern

Most of the hairy vines hugging the trees appeared to be Virginia Creeper, but Poison Ivy was also lurking around the forest floor often mixed in with the creeper. This sinister plant, while being a great food resource for birds, often hides in the shadows of other plants waiting to deliver an allergic rash to some unsuspecting human.  At least for today, it won't be me!

Virginia Creeper

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bloody Butcher



That's correct. One common name for this species of trillium is "Bloody Butcher." I rather like the connotation of this sensuously vulvular looking flower taking on the dichotomously opposing pathological persona of a slaughtering maniac.  It seems poetically aligned 
with the Black Widow phenomenon. 


By another name, 
most would call this spring ephemeral 
Trillium recurvatum or "Red Trillium." 

This particular patch of trillium recurvatum is currently blooming at Prince's Point State Wildlife Area in Jefferson County. I have been watching this and some others in Dane County for a couple weeks and was delighted to find these perfectly in bloom.


 On a chilly day, this flower is mother-fucking HOT!