Friday, May 15, 2015

They're Baaack!

Today has been spectacular so far at UW Lakeshore Preserve. There was a giant flock of 130+ swallows over Mendota this morning near the boat launch/out past willow creek sandbar, with the "slam" of species (northern rough-winged, bank, tree, cliff, barn...)

  • yellow
  • magnolia
  • Wilson's
  • Canada
  • northern waterthrush
  • northern parula
  • black-throated green warbler
  • Tennessee
  • Nashville
  • black-and-white
  • yellow-rumped

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Neotropical Migrants!

Today was really our first good "passerine push," which brought several new species to UW-Madison's Lakeshore Nature Preserve (my favorite BIGBY spot). I had my FOY cliff swallow, savannah sparrow, warbling vireo, house wren and Baltimore oriole!

Monday, April 27, 2015

BIGBY Machine!

I got a bike at Bike-o-Rama this year, and I love it! It's a commuter, which is perfect for the paved city paths.
Downtown Breezer 8
It's a 19.5" frame, and I souped it up with a water bottle holder to match my helmet. I also added a coffee mug holder to the handlebars, and you can see the scope rigged up to the back rack with a net bungee. I often put my bins in the front basket, though I can't leave it that way if I stop; it makes the bike too top-heavy and actually leans it over the kickstand!

The only bird I've actually added "exclusively" with the bike so far are lesser black-backed gull and Virginia rail, but at spots I usually walk to on campus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Migration

I've been slowly adding species, but am holding tight currently in 3rd with 84! Today, I got my FOY blue-gray gnatcatcher guessed it...lakeshore preserve. (All of my species have been on foot there so far.) Yesterday, I finally found some yellow-bellied sapsuckers in Bill's woods, and singing chipping sparrows are all around campus again. There was also a sora singing in university bay marsh.

Over the weekend, I took a long walk and had a singing swamp sparrow by university bay. There was a single pine warbler singing in the pines on the edge of bills woods, and a great blue heron hunting the edge of lake Mendota.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


This afternoon, I finally found some blue-winged teal in university bay! There was also a double-crested cormorant swimming. A belted kingfisher was flying high and calling. However, the ice isn't gone. This is what the lake looks like north of picnic point right now.
Anyway, near the entrance, there was a field sparrow at the edge of the woods (odd place, I know). As we walked to biocore, we heard an eastern towhee singing, and later found a fox sparrow foraging. On the way back, we found a pied-billed grebe in 1918 marsh. 

I corrected an odd miss, too: blue jay. I'm really not sure if I accidentally didn't count it earlier or if I really hadn't seen one. I couldn't remember a notable sighting, so I didn't fill it in. Anyway, finally saw one definitively today at the picnic point entrance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring is...Returning?

We were teased by some early high temps, followed by a return to snow and freezing cold. Now, we're creeping back into the 60s. To celebrate the sun, I went for a quick walk to University Bay this morning, and found my first-of-year (FOY) tree swallow!

Monday, March 30, 2015


Yesterday was quite the day for me! I was happy to see my FOY common loon, and a very lucky meadowlark flyover of Lake Mendota. Then, I finally found my target species of this (and next) month: rusty blackbirds! There was a flock of about 25 mixed in with the usual Icterids in the trees at the picnic point entrance. That's a great spot this time of year to catch migrating blackbirds sunning themselves in the last light of the day. Another pick-up happened on my way to the prairie: golden-crowned kinglet.

Then, I birded the prairie in search of some "nocturnal shorebirds," and was not disappointed! There were several American woodcock displaying, as well as a winnowing Wilson's snipe. I finally got to see one of the Bill's woods great horned owls, as we made our way back down the path at dusk. Also, the Frautschi point barred owl was singing while we walked around Eagle Heights garden.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

University Bay

All the "good ducks" seem to hang out in University Bay. I went for an afternoon walk with friends last week and found northern shoveler, redheads, and canvasback. The next day was the best find yet: a greater scaup mixed in the raft! For awhile, it was hanging more with the canvasbacks. Then, I finally got my American coots.

This weekend, I went for a long walk to biocore, and finally "ticked" brown-headed cowbird. At biocore, I was thrilled to find my FOY eastern phoebe and FOY (for that location) northern flicker!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I went for a walk this afternoon around Lakeshore, to find some new migrant ducks! Monday evening, there were some common mergansers that have since left.
Today, there were ring-necked ducks, common goldeneye, and lesser scaup in the lake. On the other side of the path, in the new water retention(?) area, there was a pair of bufflehead.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Over this weekend, I had some fantastic luck with owls in Lakeshore. Yesterday, I finally got a look at that BDOW I posted about last month, and also heard a duet of GHOW there! Today, I spotted the GHOW that typically hangs out behind the Nat in the silver maple (one of its favorite perches). I watched it for about an hour, but fearing it was "on to me," I moved to get a different viewing angle. When I did, I lost sight of it and didn't see where it flew off to. The owl won this time!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Early Migrants!

Today was my first real day of migration! A walk around Lakeshore with a friend produced killdeer, red-winged blackbird, and common grackle. On my walk home, I heard my first sandhill crane. When I got home, I spotted an even bigger surprise from my window: a small flock of American white pelican! Bring on spring!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Second point woods

Now that spring is springing, I'm back to wandering outside! This weekend, I found a flock of pine siskins in lakeshore preserve on campus, and a number of singing tufted titmice. Also, a flock of mourning doves corrected this "late miss."
from close to one of the "big oaks"

Monday, February 9, 2015


Today, I birded with a friend, and we heard my BIGBY barred owl around 3pm! I was a little surprised, since it was broad daylight, but we were happy with the sound. (Now, please comment if you were somewhere near picnic point entrance hooting...)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

RUBL Spring Blitz

Do you eBird your BIGBY sightings? (Hint: you should!) Once you get on board with submitting your records electronically, it's just as easy to contribute to the RUBL Blitz! Again, a green effort to count these birds helps double: not only does it give much-needed migration data, but we're also making a minimal impact by not using fossil fuel to find them. So, if you can search for rusty blackbirds on your BIGBY, this vulnerable species will thank you!

Friday, February 6, 2015

RUBL Blitz

It's time again to start thinking about the rusty blackbird blitz, which you can easily (and even preferably) do "green!" Last year was the first migration blitz year, so this year will have an additional goal. Now that we have identified hot spots, are they really hot spots? What I mean is: will rusties return to those places this year? Please revisit the places you found RUBL last spring and see if they come back!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My List So Far

Winter has brought me...
  • Canada goose
  • mallard
  • bald eagle
  • Cooper's hawk
  • red-tailed hawk
  • herring gull
  • rock pigeon
  • great horned owl
  • red-bellied woodpecker
  • downy woodpecker
  • hairy woodpecker
  • American crow
  • black-capped chickadee
  • white-breasted nuthatch
  • brown creeper
  • American robin
  • European starling
  • cedar waxwing
  • American tree sparrow
  • song sparrow
  • dark-eyed junco
  • northern cardinal
  • house finch
  • American goldfinch
  • house sparrow

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Willow Creek

As mentioned in the prior post, here is the lack of ice cover along this small sliver of Lake Mendota. I don't think it's been frozen since I returned from winter break.
Still no new ducks, but I try to check it every day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


We're out of the gate for this year's competition. This year already looks quite different from last, due to the unseasonable warm spells and ice melt. Right now, there's a bit of open water at Willow Creek, which I'll be keeping an eye on this month. There has been nothing spectacular there yet, but some of the other competitors have gotten a few ducks already. So far, I've just seen mallard and Canada goose there. It would be nice to see some different waterfowl this month!

Yesterday morning, I found "the Nat's" great horned owl surveying the University Creek mounds. Today, I found my song sparrow not far from U.Bay, and a flyover rock pigeon. The latter is a weird one to write about, but they can be "patchy" in the vicinity of campus.