A Travellerspoint blog

July 2014

Wisconsin Trip Recap

semi-overcast 80 °F

Hello everyone,

This is the post for the past three days, which I have spent on the peaceful Madeline Island in Lake Superior. Yesterday and Friday were rather uneventful, I spent those days practicing, relaxing, and taking in the beauty of the island.

Today, before my mom and I had to leave, I went birding in the morning.

First, I found this ALDER FLYCATCHER, which was a lifer just a few days ago. It finally posed for a photograph!
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Next, I spied a GREAT BLUE HERON hunting in the marsh:
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But wait, on further inspection of that photo, you will notice that my lifer AMERICAN BITTERN is a brownish patch in the reeds on the right side of the photo!

Here is a close-up image of the bittern. I believe it is a juvenile:
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Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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I spied this LEAST FLYCATCHER from afar:
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Then, a gigantic, grayish-brown hawk in the "accipiter" genus swooped quickly in front of me and darted out of sight, into the thick boreal forest. It was unmistakable--my lifer NORTHERN GOSHAWK! Sadly, it moved too quickly for photos.

The final bird photo from this journey is of a beautiful male MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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It was a bit over a nine-hour commute back to Chicago, but I'm home safely now, so that's all that matters!

This was one of the best trips, with regards to birding, of my entire life! I gained 7 life birds on this journey to Wisconsin (the last two of them from today): Black Tern, Louisiana Waterthrush, Whooping Crane, Alder Flycatcher, Spruce Grouse, American Bittern, and Northern Goshawk!

I am back home in Chicago now and I will stay here for the remainder of July, but that doesn't mean that I don't have more phenomenal birding trips lined up for the very near future! Then, in August, my family and I will take our annual two-week vacation to Sun Valley, Idaho. I have a fun, bird-filled rest of the summer ahead of me!

Full list for today is attached below my signature.

Stay tuned, and good birding!

Henry
World Life List: 676 Species (2 life birds: American Bittern and Northern Goshawk)

63 species today:

Canada Goose
COMMON LOON (heard yodeling)
Double-crested Cormorant
AMERICAN BITTERN (LIFE BIRD!)
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
NORTHERN GOSHAWK (LIFE BIRD!)
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
PURPLE MARTIN
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Black-and-White Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
FOX SPARROW
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow
PURPLE FINCH (FOY)
American Goldfinch

Posted by skwclar 19:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 9: Birds, Trees, Music, and Peace on Madeline

sunny 70 °F

Today I spent less time focused solely on birding and more time relaxing, enjoying the overall peacefulness and beautiful scenery of Madeline Island, and listening to beautiful music played by the music camp at which my mom is teaching. I did, however, find a few birds; most noteworthy among them was my life bird SPRUCE GROUSE, at which I had a quick but confirming look. It was a medium-sized, dark grouse, considerably smaller than a turkey (which is the only other dark grouse in this part of the country), that flushed from the weeds alongside the road while I was biking this morning. I of course, as with all grouse in my past birding experience, did not manage a photo of it because, well, it was acting like a grouse...shy and "flushy."

I did, however, managed photos of two birds this morning:

RED-EYED VIREO:
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Beautiful singing male BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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Tomorrow I may or may not post depending upon whether I go birding or not. The forecast is rainy for tomorrow and I will be here until Sunday morning so I have plenty of time to soak up the unique avian life of Madeline one last time.

The remainder of my summer has really shaped up. I will go back home to Chicago on Sunday, where I immediately have some birding trips lined up, and I will spend the remainder of July there. Then, for about the first two weeks in August, my family and I will make our annual summer "pilgrimage" to the Sun Valley, Idaho area (AKA my absolute favorite place in the world!) for birding (me), playing in the Sun Valley Summer Symphony (my mom), and soaking up the beautiful mountain scenery (all of us).

Bird-of-the-day to the SPRUCE GROUSE (my only lifer today), and runner-up to the beautiful BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER I photographed.

Stay tuned!

Henry
World Life List: 675 Species (1 life bird today: Spruce Grouse)

Posted by skwclar 19:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 8: Warblers Galore!

semi-overcast 67 °F

Today I went birding again for most of the morning on my bike on the magically packed-with-birds Madeline Island in Lake Superior. I saw 14 species of warblers, which are tiny, brightly-colored songbirds, and they happen to be my absolute favorite family of birds. Many warblers nest in boreal climates like that of Madeline Island, so that explains why I saw so many of these gems today. I also luckily managed to photograph a good number of them, see below.

Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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This female BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER is a pretty girl:
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But she looks a bit drab when compared to her mate:
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This spiffy MAGNOLIA WARBLER had a grub on the menu for brunch:
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Male AMERICAN REDSTART:
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Male PINE WARBLER:
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At one point I took a walk alongside this gorgeous lagoon:
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I only managed two photos of non-warbler birds today, first this one of a HERMIT THRUSH:
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And, secondly, this bird is a SOLITARY SANDPIPER, the first southbound migrant I have seen so far this year (shorebirds like this one tend to start migrating south from their hyperborean nesting grounds very, very early. I should start to be seeing even more southbound shorebirds soon enough):
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It was a great day of fantastic birding; I can't believe I identified 14 species of warblers in one day in mid-July, this island is truly unbelievable! Full bird species list for today is attached below my signature.

Stay tuned, and as always, good birding!

Henry
World Life List: 675 Species (no life birds today)

47 species + 1 other taxa (14 warbler species!)

Duck Sp. (too far off to identify)
COMMON LOON (heard yodeling but did not see)
Double-crested Cormorant (1 fly-over)
Sandhill Crane (1 fly-over)
Killdeer (heard-only)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (saw 1 and heard it calling)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
PILEATED WOODPECKER (heard 1 calling and drumming)
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Kingbird
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Chipping Sparrow
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

And last but definitely not least, here is the list of the 14 warbler species (!) I identified today:

Ovenbird
Black-and-White Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

Posted by skwclar 14:51 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Days 6 and 7: First 2 Full Days on Madeline Island!

all seasons in one day 70 °F

Due to blog malfunctions, as you may have been aware of, I did not post yesterday, so today is a "catch-up" post for the two first days I have spent on the quiet and supremely beautiful (not to mention supremely mosquito-infested) Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands chain of Lake Superior. Both days, my mornings were spent birding from my bike and my afternoons were spent practicing and relaxing. Biking is the only way to see enough of the island to find good birds and good birding places, because my mom and I carpooled with one of her friends up here, so we don't have a car, and walking isn't an option because I wouldn't cover enough ground.

Yesterday morning's bike ride from 6:45am-9:00am was very pleasant, I saw many good birds, and best of all it was a "balmy" (for up here) 70 degrees (especially when compared to today when it was 50 degrees the entire morning, brrrr!). So, here are some photos from yesterday:

The island yesterday:
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Male NORTHERN PARULA. Parulas, like many of the other species that nest up here in the summer, are only transient birds through the Chicago/Oak Park area, so it is nice to see these species on their nesting grounds.
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"Eye candy" male BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER:
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Today's morning bike ride was very cool...in both senses of the word! Pictures are below:

Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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It was very, very nice to see this CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, a diminutive and uncommon grassland bird that I have been yearning to photograph for over a year now:
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Cute RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, only an occasional winter bird in the Chicago area, are common year-round up here:
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Beautiful male BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER singing:
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I spotted this distant NORTHERN FLICKER at one point during the bike ride:
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As well as this stunning BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (at a much closer range, of course):
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Another far-away photo is of this female COMMON MERGANSER that I saw swimming far out in LAKE SUPERIOR:
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The best bird that I photographed these two days, in my opinion, was this male MOURNING WARBLER. MOWA's are skulking birds of dense forest habitats that are more commonly heard that seen (but they're not very common in the first place), so I was lucky enough to capture this photo of this guy:
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My only lifer these two days has been an ALDER FLYCATCHER (heard only) that was singing his characteristic "whree-BEER!" song at some point along my bike ride today.

The bird-of-the-day award yesterday goes to the stunning male Blackburnian Warbler that I photographed, and the award for today will be shared by my lifer Alder Flycatcher and the Mourning Warbler I photographed, since despite the Mourning W. not being a lifer (or even an FOY for that matter), that species is always a treat photograph out in the open.

Combined bird species list for yesterday and today is included below my signature.

Stay tuned for more bird fun from Madeline!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 675 Species (1 life bird today: Alder Flycatcher)

59 species + 1 other taxa (1 life bird, 15 warbler species!)

Mallard
COMMON MERGANSER
COMMON LOON (heard-only today)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Accipiter Sp.
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER
ALDER FLYCATCHER (life bird!)
LEAST FLYCATCHER
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH
White-breasted Nuthatch
WINTER WREN
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET
Eastern Bluebird
HERMIT THRUSH
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
OVENBIRD
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER
TENNESSEE WARBLER
NASHVILLE WARBLER
MOURNING WARBLER
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
CAPE MAY WARBLER
NORTHER PARULA
MAGNOLIA WARBLER
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER
Yellow Warbler
PINE WARBLER
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER
Chipping Sparrow
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Song Sparrow
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

Posted by skwclar 14:52 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 5: La Crosse to Madeline Island

semi-overcast 82 °F

Today my mom picked me up from my aunt and uncle and we drove up from western Wisconsin to Madeline Island, a beautiful island in the Apostle Islands chain in Lake Superior north of mainland Wisconsin (we took the ferry across from Bayfield). We will remain here a week and I will be birding (while battling the swarms of ferocious mosquitos found here) everyday while my mom teaches with her friends at the Madeline Island Music Camp.

The birding here is like nothing I have ever done before because Madeline Island is in the "boreal" or "north woods" region of North America, and most of the birds found here are radically different from the species found, say, in the "temperate" climate like that of the Chicago area or western Wisconsin.

I saw a few nice birds along the drive, including my first COMMON LOON of the year, a family of SANDHILL CRANES, and a hunting EASTERN BLUEBIRD.

Once we arrived at the island in late afternoon, I went for a short birding bike ride and found some other nice species including the ones pictured below:

CHIPPING SPARROW:
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FOY (first-of-the-year) WINTER WREN (fledgling):
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The star of the afternoon and the bird-of-the-day, in my opinion, was this beautiful male BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER who posed very nicely (with a grub in his mouth) for this photo:
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It was a great day, and I am excited for more of this different type of birding for this coming week!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 674 Species (no life birds today)

50 species:

Canada Goose
Mallard
COMMON LOON (FOY--seen on drive up)
Double-crested Cormorant
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
BROWN CREEPER (bird of the day)
House Wren
WINTER WREN
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
OVENBIRD
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Posted by skwclar 17:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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