Getting Lost

This past weekend I took some time to do something that I rarely have the chance to do. I woke up early on Saturday morning to do some birding and hiking at a friend's property near by. I find myself traveling often enough, that when I have the chance to be home, I generally hang out with my family rather than bird. The final calls of spring migration this weekend were a bit much for me to resist however.

Ken and Pat's place is a mix of Oak woodlands, Savannah, and Maple forest with bits of prairie and wetlands scattered about. Among the stone outcroppings I found Veerys, Swainson's Thrushes, and Catbirds vying for my camera's attention.

In the tree canopy were Magnolia Warblers, Mourning Warblers, American Redstarts, and Black and White Warblers.

Because I went went out with the goal of getting some good bird pictures before the end of migration, I chose to walk where the lighting was best, rather than walking the trail that I'm familiar with.

After following the calls of some Rose-breasted Grosbeaks which ultimately eluded me, I found myself in the location pictured above. This is a charming Maple grove that I figured was 4 stream crossings and 3 ridgetops from where I started, and most certainly off the beaten path. It was at this point that I turned around and realized I was lost. After a bit of creative bushwhacking and traversing a few steep valleys, I stumbled upon familiar territory. With no place in particular to be that morning, it was a fine time to get lost.

We spent Sunday afternoon canoeing the Wisconsin River with a number of our close friends. It was sunny and warm. Perfect conditions for paddling and relaxing. With the mix of five canoes and one kayak various paddling skills, kids, and dogs, it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to understand how a canoe at the rear can make a wrong turn and get separated from the rest of us. In this instance I'm glad to report that it wasn't me who got lost. We made ourselves comfortable at a sandbar and found a myriad of ways to kill time, from kite flying to badminton and Frisbee. It was a wonderful occasion to have fun and catch up with friends who I don't get to see often enough due to my busy travel schedule.
Here's Mandi, a 6 week old Border Collie pup who is taking on the world, one kite at a time.

We were eventually reunited with the lost party of paddlers and made it back to shore in time to be treated to a wonderful lightning show followed by thunderstorms. Overall, it was a nice finale to the weekend.




Flying Around

I spent some time today looking back at some of the images I took at the shorebird festival in Homer, AK and a few other places I've been this spring. These two shots of shorebirds in flight resonate with me as I reflect back on my travels. It was a busy spring full of projects, events, work and family. Always on the move, I often felt surrounded by "the buzz" as I passed through airports and worked with the crowds of nature enthusiasts at festivals.

I've been back home for about a week now, and finally feel like I've found a bit of order amidst the activity. So what's next???? Spring in Wisconsin is fantastic and I'll look forward to soaking in the sights and sounds of the migrant songbirds in the woods near my home. I think I might even be able to get in a bit of digiscoping this week as well as spending some quality time with good friends as we paddle down the Wisconsin River this weekend. But first, I'm going to get some much needed rest.....


Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

Above is a picture of the Homer spit taken from the hills above Homer Alaska. The spit is a 1.5 mile peninsula of land that juts out into the Kachemak Bay. I'm writing this blog from the very tip of that spit, at a place called Land's End. Here on the spit, there is a Bald Eagle or two on almost every lamp post, Halibut fishing is king, and this time of year, the shorebirds are coming in thickly. It's a great place to host a birding festival.
While not a regular visitor to this part of Alaska, these Emperor Geese were a delightful surprise to find at one of the local birding hot-spots, Beluga Slough.
Even though it's not a shorebird, these geese will be a highlight of the festival for many of the participants, as well as a new species to add to their bird checklists, mine included.



Here is Bill Thompson III with a Ruby-throated hummingbird he caught with his bare hands.

Bill loves hummingbirds, especially with a slice of tomato and some mayonnaise.

Backyard Birding in San Benito Texas

After last Sunday's Big Sit, I took the day off to get some rest at a friends house in San Benito, TX. As it turned out, I didn't have to go any further than her backyard to witness the spectacular migrant fall-out after Sunday night's front went through.
I couldn't resist the urge to get out of the house and do some digiscoping in the backyard!
An Eastern Wood PeeWee

A rare find anywhere in the US, this female Cerulean warbler was the highlight migrant of the day!

This Nashville warbler looked a little travel weary.

Summer Tanager

Yellow Warbler