Monday, April 25, 2011

Birds of Easter Weekend

I hope everyone had a happy Easter weekend. We've been busy this week, and I continually struggle to find enough time in the day. Michaela and Danielle visited Grandparents in Minnesota this past week, playing with cousins, hiding Easter eggs, and enjoying family.

I had many long nights working this past week, but Christine and I were able to attend my Spring department meetings in Fond du Lac on Friday and Saturday. On the way to the meetings we stopped at Mead Wildlife Area in hopes of finding Greater-Prairie Chickens for Christine. We were in luck.

While I enjoyed the meetings Christine bummed around town and took in a movie. Saturday afternoon we went for a walk at Horicon Marsh International Education Center and a drive on Dike Rd. It was our first trip to Horicon, and were able to find 60 species in a few hours of looking. A few pictures are below, with other pictures linked here for a Northern Harrier, Pied-billed Grebe, and American White Pelican

American Coot

Savannah Sparrow

American Bittern

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Sunday I finished the Red-shouldered Hawk survey, finding 34 species at 12 points during the morning observations. Eight new species from Thursday morning, but four that I did not find the second time around.

This Friday I'll be at an undergraduate research symposium with my environmental economics class. It should be a fun trip, but of course we have to finish the project yet!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red-shouldered Hawk Survey

Last month I volunteered for an Owl Survey route and a Red-Shouldered Hawk survey route. I completed the Owl route two weeks ago, but have had trouble getting the Hawk surveys in due to weather. I attempted to complete the survey this past Saturday, but when snowfall started during the second of twelve stops and I had to cancel. With calm weather forecasted I was hopeful that I could complete the first of two routes. Luckily I was able to complete the twelve ten minute observations this morning and only had to deal with fog. Temperature in the 20s caused thick fog around low lying areas early this morning. As a result I took an hour break in the middle of the survey to wait for the fog to burn off, but overall it was a beautiful morning to be outside.

The highlight was finding two Red-Shouldered Hawks, one that flew directly over my head at tree top height! Two survey routes and success on both....awesome!

I'm hoping Christine and I get out birding a couple of times this weekend also. Michaela and Danielle are visiting Grandparents while I have my spring department meetings tomorrow and Saturday in Fond du Lac.

Below is a list of observed species.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ruffed Grouse
Wild Turkey
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Wilson's Snipe
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Owl Survey

I conducted my first Owl survey route earlier tonight. Each survey route consists of listing for five minutes at 10 stops a mile apart. The clear sky and relatively calm winds were ideal for the survey. I did not have high expectations based on a ride-along for two routes last year, but I was pleasantly surprised tonight.

I heard owls at four of ten survey stops, with four Barred Owls and one Great Horned Owl counted! Two of the owls were very close to the road, resonating their sound through my head and sending chills down my spine with their awesome calls. At another stop two barred owls were calling back and forth on opposite sides of the road. I also heard a Savannah Sparrow and two Wilson's Snipes for the first time this year. Along with the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Fox Sparrow in our yard today, it was a good day of birding!

In addition to birds, I saw five deer and a raccoon tonight. The unexpected survey guest showed up right after the five minute survey was complete at my 9th stop. I had just returned to the car and was jotting down notes when cop lights came on behind me. The cop was very kind and checked to make sure everything was alright. He asked how the survey was going and seemed interested when I mentioned a barred owl was calling within a couple hundred yards of we were parked. He drove off right away without listening however. I was too frightened to get out of the car and point out the call, but I should have. I've read about this happening to birders before, but not me. The episode with police has given me a good chuckle after the fact.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Birds & Golf

Scattered flurries have not dampened my excitement for the return of birds and golf this spring. Sunday I was on campus for a preview day talking about golf and saw a tentative schedule from the Athletic Director. Seven meets in four weeks with the conference tournament being the only one partially on a weekend. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful AD to work with!

Before going to campus I also sent out the following email Sunday morning. I'm hopeful that a few individuals from campus, Marshfield, and the surrounding areas will join me for the bird walks on campus.

Dear campus associates,

As many of know I am outdoor enthusiast and I am passing along a personal invitation for anyone to join me in one or more of the birding opportunities listed below.

Next month I will lead two Bird Walks at the Wood open to anyone. These walks will be held on Tuesday May 3rd 8:10 am and Wednesday May 11th at 8:10 am. We'll walk through and around the Arboretum searching for local birds that have returned and hopefully find spring migrants on their way further north. Meet at the
south side of the parking lot on W 7th St near the trail to the tennis courts. Bring binoculars if you have them. Wear boots as the Arboretum will likely be wet and muddy.

On April 9th I will be attending the
WSO and ALAS sponsored Field Trip at the Mead Wildlife Area. This field trip will be led by Dan Belter and Gerry Janz and is open to birders of all levels. If interested meet at 7:30 am at the Mead Wildlife Visitor Center or carpool from Wausau or Marshfield with me. Bad weather may cancel the field-trip, with cancelations typically posted on the Wisconsin Birding list.

I will be conducting a
Red-shouldered Hawk survey twice between April 13th and April 24th. This survey begins at sunrise and is approximately four hours long. If anyone is interested, please let me know and I will try to accommodate dates with good weather forecasted that work for those interested.

I will be conducting an
Owl survey during the next two weeks. This survey is a night survey and last approximately three hours. It needs to take place at least a half an hour after sunset and must be finished a half an hour before sunrise. If anyone is interested, please let me know asap and we can find a night with good weather forecasted to conduct the survey.

Enjoying the return of our feathered friends,

Malcolm Gold

If I had to pick only one season, it would definitely be spring!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Merry Christmas from ..... Oregon?

I finally had time to edit a photo from Christmas, this is one of my favorites from .....our trip out west? Click the photo to reveal more information.