Sunday, May 23, 2010


Hey folks,

Took advantage of the nice weather and biked down to the CGI today. Nothing particularly rare (was hoping for a hooded gull of some variety), but quite a few good shorebirds hanging around totaling 11 species, in addition to 5 species of duck, and all six swallows. A White-rumped Sandpiper was very cooperative, foraging in a puddle close to the ferry fence. A pair of Ruddy Turnstones flew in off the lake while I was scoping, and in true CGI fashion, a Black-bellied Plover literally appeared from nowhere in a small puddle I was scoping as I glanced down at my guide. I have no idea where the bird could have come from, as I had scanned the area pretty thoroughly beforehand. I was pretty excited to pick up a drake American Wigeon as well, as I had figured that the window on that species had closed. Still a decent collection of waterfowl, with single female Northern Shoveler and Hooded Merganser briefly seen (viewing of the waterfowl pond was pretty heavily obstructed, I think it is very likely the males were here as well). Really a shame this spot isn't managed for wildlife, who knows what else it would pull in with some real habitat.

An Olive-sided Flycatcher and a few Mourning Warblers highlighted a morning walk through Lake Park today.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cuckoos and Flycatchers

Originally, I'd planned to bike down to the CGI after birding Lake Park, but the fog is making that trek seem less profitable. Still, a great morning of Bigbying, and after traveling out of town last week (and being pretty busy catching up/working this week), I had quite a few later migrants to add to the year's tally. Lake Park was pretty busy this morning, with loads of Wilson's, Magnolia, and Blackpoll Warblers around, with a handful of Tennessee and a couple of Mourning as well. Both cuckoos were present as well, with a Yellow-billed Cuckoo first spotted in a tree above the soccer fields. Soon after, a Black-billed Cuckoo provided good looks as well. I was surprised to see a Common Nighthawk flap out of the mist. There are good numbers of Red-eyed Vireo throughout the park, along with at least 4 Philadelphias.

After birding Lake Park, I decided to make a detour and swing by the UEC. I was rewarded with a cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. At least 2 Alder Flycatchers were calling along the river here as well. Additional highlights included a Red-headed Woodpecker and another cuckoo, who took off as I raised my 'nocs, evading identification.

As always, great morning to be out! The fog made viewing difficult at times at Lake Park, but it was very active. Though I've been away for a bit, it seems as though there has been a heavy influx of flycatchers, with the two mentioned above, along with many Least, Great-crested, and Pewee calling today.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Birds

Hi Folks,

I biked to the UW Arboretum this morning to do a field trip with others. No migrants!! I did pick up Tufted Titmouse and Black-billed Cuckoo. At picnic point I managed a singing Prothonotary warbler which I expected to miss for the year.

I'm slowly working into shape to bike some serious miles in search of tougher birds...I gotta make Scott work!

Andy P.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Snipe. Yes. Spotted Sandpiper. No. Goshawk? Sweet Revenge.

Here's a condensed version of the "Goshawk Extreme Dash."

Text message from TIVA "goshawk at RP. No lie"
Phone conversation ".... follow the crows."
Run. Scramble. Climb. Slip. Mud. Balance. Peer.
TIVA: Oops

(For full disclosure, the GHOW was beautiful and worth every bruise).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Update from Madtown

Hi Folks,

I've been racking up the bike miles lately - and figuring out that a better, more comfortable bike would make this easier! Tomorrow - canoe birding.

I picked up Caspian Tern, Orchard oriole, willow flycatcher, wilson's warbler today. Still no owls and very few raptors!

Andy P.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What a week!

What an awesome week it has been for birding in Milwaukee! Exactly one week ago, I birded Lake Park, and only could find YR and Palm Warblers. Since then, Lake Park alone has given me 35 FOY birds!

Once again, I am pretty impressed by the birding in Milwaukee. I feel pretty fortunate to live where I do. With easy access to Lake Park/Vet's/Lakeshore State Park, it's really easier for me to BIGBY than it is to drive to these same locations to bird. The variety of birds that pass so close to my current home is astonishing, and I've really enjoyed being able to witness it this year. Over the last week, I've been able to tour Lake Park all but one day, and each day has provided at least a couple of new goodies and surprises (and, as was the case last Friday and yesterday, loads of new arrivals!!). A White-eyed Vireo at Lake Park yesterday was especially exciting, as six of us were able to share the bird as it cooperatively foraged beneath us in Locust Ravine.

On Monday, I also made a run at the CGI. I was not a Milwaukee resident during its 'heyday', but even the decline of habitat over the last couple of the years is very noticeable and pretty sad; really a unique lakeshore habitat. I got down there later than I wanted to, with the sun dropping and the wind whipping; but as usual, it still produced a good variety of shorebirds, including three Phalaropes frantically spinning in the easternmost impoundment. I did not get a satisfactory ID on all three birds, though one striking female Wilson's stood out, and the clear underwing of a second made two for that species. A Peregrine swooped down in front of me at the impoundment as well, spooking up two Pectoral Sandpipers that had been hidden before. Definitely looking forward to a few more return trips to this spot! Very hopeful that it will grant me the lifer Whimbrel I've been hoping to see here since I first became a Brew City resident!

Is anyone planning on doing a Big Green Day? Depending on how the weather matches my work schedule the second half of May, I'm definitely planning on making a run or two. Another outlet for our BIGBY obsessions!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Glorious Day

Excellent day beginning with banding on the island in Washington Park, just a few blocks away from one of my old schools. I much prefer sitting on the island with geese hissing away at me, than sitting in a hot classroom with 36 frustrated students. While at Washington Park, I got my first glimpse of a Parula Warbler, and I hoped to replicate the event while on a true Bigby to Lake Park. The wind was amazing this afternoon, so Maria and I took to the ravines and found many Northern Waterthrushes, a Veery, a Gray-cheeked as well as lots of Palms and Yellow-rumps. Near the warming house we spotted a Blue-headed Vireo and a Magnolia. There were more species observed, but I must admit to total happy, sunburnt exhaustion and I think it shall be another early night. (All the better to rise early tomorrow for more Bigbying!) Kudos and thanks to Tim Vargo (TIVA) for thinking of this challenge, and Owen (our own OWBO) for getting us on the web!!!

Catching Up!

Hi Folks,

I did a bit of Bigbying today. Golden-winged Warbler woke me up at the house this morning and I decided to bike to work by way of Lake Farm Park, Nine Springs, Olin Park, etc. I got some of the shorebirds including Long-billed Dowitcher and Wilson's Phalarope and 15 species of warblers!

Andy P.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend Recap

Hey folks,
Finally getting a chance to recap what has been an awesome weekend! Had the chance to bird quite a bit the last three days, and it's been awesome. Friday was the day for FOY warblers... I was lucky enough to pick up 6 new additions, including great looks at a male Black-throated Blue with Robin and Maria in Locust Ravine. I biked to Schlitz after that (I think I mentioned my obsession with Scoters as a teenager... old habits die hard, and the report of a Black a day earlier was too much to resist)... unfortunately, the weather turned, things were much quieter, and my 25-ish mile pedal was not rewarded with any new BIGBY birds, though a very pale gull working down the shore caught my eye... definitely the first Iceland Gull I've ever seen when I was in shorts, a consolation prize I was pretty pleased with!
On the way back from Schlitz, I was able to find one of the Great Horned Owls at Estabrook (thanks Robin for the heads up!!!). I gambled that I had a little time before the weather hit and passed my apartment, heading a little bit south to Vet's Park, adding the Black-crowned Night Herons that returned earlier in the week. I decided to make a sweep through Lakeshore State Park as well, and was surprised to see 13 Willets huddled on the beach there. The skies opened up, though I managed to get home before getting too waterlogged.

Saturday morning, the crowd of 40+ birders gathered for the Lake Park Bird Walk was perhaps as impressive as the parade of new migrants that morning. Saturday was less about warblers, with Black-and-White being the only new pickup (really shocked at how elusive this species has been this year). Highlight was definitely the Piping Plover at Bradford, a new Wisconsin bird for me, and the first time I've seen this bird away from its breeding grounds.

While the influx of new species was a little slower this morning than Friday and Saturday, the flow of migration was still very evident at Lake Park, with a noticeable increase in the number of Common Yellowthroats, Yellow Warblers, and Black-throated Green Warblers. A Yellow-throated Vireo over the Lake Park Bistro bridge was particularly cooperative. I made a run at Maria's Least Bittern without success, but got a Green Heron as a consolation prize and bird 120 for the BIGBY run.

Overall, what a fun weekend to be out! Really enjoyed every moment I had out there, also enjoyed meeting a few of you all out and about this weekend! Can't wait for things to really take off here shortly!

Good birding!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

GHOW nestling

Bigbying is the best. I don't know what I did before this! Ran into Owen and Anne down at the lakefront today and we found 5 Black-crowned Night Herons and Owen helped me find my Coot.
This is a picture a friend took of the owl at Estabrook Park.

I am Robin. I am a bigbyic.

the weirdness factor

So I was sitting last night thinking about the weirdness of it all - as of last night, I still had not gotten a Killdeer - but I had a Piping Plover. Weird. As of last night, I didn't have a Red-tail Hawk or Kestrel - but since I joined BIGBY I have a Peregrine and a Bald Eagle. Also weird. And I can't find a Cedar Waxwing or a Tree Sparrow to save my life. And I'm wondering how I'll get all those ducks I know so well but have (I'm afraid) moved on. Maybe a trip to the CGI tomorrow???
Mostly I'm trying real hard to catch up before I go East for a few days to collect my daughter from college and attend my niece's wedding. So I'm working hard at this when I can, while I can. And it's fun.
Looking for the Willets reported in Lakeshore Park today I got my Killdeer, so things are a little less weird. Didn't get the Willets, but biking by the lagoon north of the MAM I noticed something and went back to check it and found a Least Bittern, a beautiful, adult bird, in the cattails, which was really, really cool.
...and a little weird...
....but I'll take it.
I love this time of year.