Since the latter part of March I have been keeping a running log of natural events I recurrently attune to each spring. In the past my sense of seasonal timing has been vague at best. In my opinion "vague" feels like the more fluid and organic manner to experience the natural world. However for whatever reason, this year I have decided to assign increased definition to my seasonal experiences. I muse at why my brain is opting for this increased compartmentalizing. Fill the slots. Categorize. List. I suppose building a foundation of constants and comparing differences across time possesses an element of intrigue...it often has for me. Now it shall with more clarity.
So here is my personal phenology as I have laid witness to thus far this spring.
I will start with the best rush of Spring to date, yesterday morning! Behold Louisiana Waterthrush!
April 12th. Right on schedule. Often a tough bird to get in my patch despite a small number being known to visit the creek corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy most years in early spring.
I had a small window of time to find this species this year before family obligations hijack my April birding. So I was thrilled to find this species yesterday! Such pure gold and an immensely satisfying high. Even better is sharing the wealth with other birders. At least a few others were able to relocate this bird yesterday and this morning.
Now to rewind to the third week of March for a chronology of the little nuggets I eagerly await each year...
- FOY implosion of my Swarovisions (DID NOT EAGERLY AWAIT THIS. But it would not be spring without some disaster for me be it an accident, injury or significant illness). The diopter/focus wheel came apart after years of fits with the darn thing. Right before spring migration. Could not be worse timing with any repair by Swarovski taking a minimum of two months. Enter sweet, generous Adrian with my choice of Zeiss Victory binoculars to use. Even better, I get to keep the pair I like best as my back-up binoculars!
- Final ice went out in Lake Mendota
- First Mourning Cloak of the year
- First day of Spring coincided with first chipmunk in the yard
- Last of season Northern Shrike horking up a pellet at Nine Springs
|Northern Shrike, Nine Springs Natural Area|
- FOY (first of the year) Bonaparte's Gull
|Bonaparte's Gulls, Stricker's Pond|
- FOY (First of year) yard Brown Creeper
- First of season (FOS) Carolina Wren
|Carolina Wren, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- FOY yard Chipping Sparrow. Prior to this year we often had one over-winter in the yard/neighborhood
- First sizable push of Golden-crowned kinglets
|Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- Bloodroot blooming
|Bloodroot, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- Virginia Bluebells barely blooming
|Virginia Bluebells, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- First tiger beetles of the year: 30+ Bronzed at Pheasant Branch Conservancy (PBC) Creek Corridor and a single Six-spotted also spotted at PBC. My friend Steve had texted on March 30 that Bronzed and Twelve-spotted were out by his place in Stoughton. Twelve-spotted is the last of the Wisconsin tiger beetles I still need for my life list. There never seems enough time for all I wish to conquer during spring!
|Bronzed Tiger Beetle, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- Multiple Mourning Cloaks and Cabbage white butterflies seen at Pheasant Branch and Graber Pond. Generally a notable spike observed in insects on this warm sunny day.
- First of year shorebird other than Killdeer, a Pectoral Sandpiper
- Second of the year shorebird other than Killdeer, an early Least Sandpiper
- FOY Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
|Least Sandpiper (left) with Pectoral Sandpiper (right). |
Subzero Parkway Ponds, Dane Co, WI 6April21
- FOS singing Winter Wren
|Winter Wren, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- FOY yard Field Sparrow
- FOY singing Yellow-rumped Warblers
- Trout Lily and Dutchmen's Breeches starting to bloom
- The invasive Japanese Knotweed was growing new shoots at Pheasant Branch. The patch in our yard has not come back. I am hoping we effectively eradicated it last fall.
|Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- FOY Eastern Bluebird (WTF?!). This is LATE for me. Many had this species much earlier this spring. However others noted this species was late to arrive on territory by multiple weeks.
|Eastern Bluebird, Pope Farm Conservancy|
- Second warbler species of the year, a patch Louisiana Waterthrush!
|Louisiana Waterthrush, Pheasant Branch Conservancy|
- Trout lily in full bloom on south facing slopes
My yard black-capped chickadees having been investigating the nest boxes more heavily in the last week.
Pine siskins are collecting nesting material in the yard. We are down to a fairly consistent six seen most days.
It looms large that I dipped on Vesper Sparrow in my patch last year. I have birded a few spots both roadside as well as a decent foot effort put in at Pope Farm without success. With a pending suspension of my birding efforts, I am concerned I will possibly miss Vesper Sparrow again this year.
Though I had Pine Warblers in spades last year, I am feeling angst I could miss this species since I will be out of state during what my "vague sense of timing" considers to be their peak migration...However the more I think about it, I should have time to find this species.
Beer-thirty is rarely conducive to early birding. Will I ever get out birding before eight this spring?