Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October's Stolen Visit

October 2016 will be but a footnote in a year I'm ready to leave behind. I allowed my favorite month to pass by with but a few fleeting glances at its glory.

There will be no orange sparrows for me this year as I find myself greeting the senescence of October's end.

Nature's brilliant reds and orange are becoming muted by a palette of brown and ochre.

I missed the brilliance of this prairie this year, this place that has become less familiar. I leave pieces of me behind with every stolen visit. Buried. Soon to be forgotten.

I found hints of Nature's earlier majesty in the sparse lingering blooms of Guara biennis

...and another whose name escaped me even though the reflections of its leaves run deep within my memory.

The remains of coneflower pierced the golden grass, beckoning my attention. The sky was a dismal gray and the air blew a chill, foreshadowing colder months ahead.

The old mother's hand of this bare oak wisely pointed me toward the exit, suggesting it was time for me to leave.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Nessie makes the worst blog post ever


Late this afternoon I hit a local bird haunt in search of orange sparrows, Nelson's and Le Conte's were on my mind. I think Le Conte's may very well be my favorite of all sparrows. I suspect this year will go down as a fail in seeing one simply for lack of trying. C'est la vie. I have memories and photos from years past. But seeing another sure would be nice...

Le Conte's Sparrow,  Jefferson Co, WI 17Oct2012
(attempting to save this post with a remote photo)
It seems most places I venture in Jefferson county have shit for trails. Today was no exception. Annoying really. I haven't been out much as of late. It seems I'm getting soft on my tolerance for trekking around off trail. Today's adventure included tall grass and prickers, on uneven ground, unable to see above the vegetation to spot birds and wet feet. And going off trail for fall sparrows means sacrificing my clothes to maddening and persisting hitchhikers from hell. To make matters worse, even though I fancied myself prepared by applying bug spray before I left my vehicle, I still was mauled by mosquitoes! Swarms of mosquitoes on October 16 in Wisconsin! No thank you global warming. A mile and a half into this torture with no orange sparrows in sight, I proclaimed aloud, "Fuck this. I'm done." Crickets...yeah crickets and mosquitoes were the only ones to witness my outburst.

Back to the car it is. The walk there yielded a couple of Sedge Wrens as consolations. I blew the shot, but nice to see nonetheless.

Sedge Wren, Jefferson Co, WI 16Oct2016
Passing by one of the ponds en route to my car, I flushed a sizable number of waterfowl to the "back forty." With only binoculars I wasn't able to identify much to species other than the Mallards and some obvious Ruddy Ducks. Since I was planning to eBird my outing, I thought it best to do due diligence for once, get my scope and hoof it back to the pond. My usual modus operandi with fall ducks is one of the lazy birder where I throw 50 duck spuhs on my checklist and call it good. Fall ducks are so blasé!
"Nessie" with Ruddy Ducks
Scoping paid off. To my surprise I found an Eared Grebe within five minutes of scanning. Makes me wonder what I missed the last time I was at this place, when I opted to pass on scoping the water. So before me, at some considerable distance, was a rare for Wisconsin Eared Grebe. We seem to get a few each year. I believe this may be the second for Wisconsin for 2016. Of course I left my digiscoping gear back at the car. This was supposed to be a quick scan. Now a photo seemed obligatory...and panic set in. Would I achieve getting a photo worthy of the bird police? A half mile back to the car! Fading daylight! I can do this!

Yep, Eared Grebe, center, Jefferson Co, WI 16Oct2016

It may be a bit "nessie" but it's still an Eared Grebe. Not as sexy as the orange sparrows, but I'll take it.