Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chasing a Piping Plover

This morning I was a twitcher. A friend joined me as we used information reported on email list servers, Facebook, and a network of friends and drove to Lacrosse in search of a Piping Plover. A great thanks to those that found and shared the location of this bird and those that informed everyone if it remained in the same location, as we were able to easily find the bird late this morning.  This endangered species was a lifer for us both and a joy to watch.  We spent the next hour scoping gulls and waterfowl at the spillway and fisherman's dike, finding good a variety of waterfowl and the reported eared grebes.  Before returning to Winona we drove south 10 minutes to see a white-face ibis, another lifer for my birding partner today.  

Piping Plover
A photo of the Piping Plover from today is above. Seeing this bird was a highlight, but as I edited photos from the week and wrote this blog tonight I wondered.whether it was actually the biggest highlight. Other awesome highlights from today include: enjoyment from sharing bird observations with a friend, pride felt after convincing your youngest to jump in the deep end at swim lessons, and the happiness of an accidental encounter and meal with best friends at Taco Bell. I guess I'm more likely a birder than twitcher or lister, but enjoyed being one today. 

This past week has been wonderful. Recent warmth, sun, and traditional spring days have me itching to get outside to golf, to bird, and to enjoy the weather in general.  I haven't touched a golf club yet this year, but we have been enjoying the numerous birds that are currently in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.  Michaela has asked a couple of times to visit the flooded field where Bonaparte's Gulls, Yellowlegs, and Teal were earlier this week.  Below are some of the numerous pictures from this past week, as many of each of these species are currently on Lake Winona or the Mississippi.

Horned Grebe

Northern Shoveler

Pied-billed Grebe

Ruddy Duck

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

This fine spring April morning we've had a combination of snow, sleet, and rain.  Luckily we enjoyed a more traditional spring day yesterday and went to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in search of a Mountain Bluebird.  

We were not successful in finding this Wisconsin rarity, but we did enjoy walking Pine Creek Dike trail.  The girls , identified ducks from the observation platform using scopes and collected rocks and sticks during the mile long walk.  Michaela pointed out a the first garter snake of the year, after which both girls informed me what we should do if it were a rattlesnake.

Christine took a few bird photos, with the best found below.  The girls watched a movie on the drive over and back and while at the Refuge I ran into other birders from MN and WI.
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Phoebe

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Early Migrants and Early Birders

We finally had a spring day with sun and 40s, which got me out birding!!! After dropping Danielle off at preschool Christine and I stopped by the recycling center and went for a walk. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thurshes, and Fox Sparrows were common.  Great Egrets are moving through as well.  Seeing the gorgeous breeding plumage of an egret reminds me that previous generations over hunted these species almost to the brink. American Coots seem to run on water when they fly and were the only photogenic bird this afternoon.

The girls had swim lessons tonight.  Once completed we stopped at a flooded field in Winona on our way home to see migrating Bonaparte's Gulls.  Michaela has been more interetsed in books due to reading and was very curious in my bird books tonight.  As families walked by in the park we got odd looks as Michaela thumbed through the Sibley's guiide, Danielle looked through the binoculars, and I asked them to find field marks on Ring-billed Gulls. A passing family asked about the other sandpipers in the field and were pleased to learn they were Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  Below are photos from our drive home tonight around 7.  It was a late night, but I guess I'm willing to extend bed time for the birds.  Unfortunately the girls were unable to hear peenting Woodcocks behind our house at bed time tonight.

It was nearly five years ago that Michaela's second "word" (not including ma and pa) was Chickadee. It is fun to see their interests grow.  I know they are interested in birds because their dad is, but for the time being I'm okay with that.  Michaela has already asked for a Beta fish when we move, definitely not something I would want.  Kudos to Josh and inspiring me to get the kids out to observe birds!