Monday, April 28, 2008

Baxter's Hollow, SPG Preserve and Bakken's Pond on Sun.

Ok, I haven't been very good on posting lately. Birding has taken up so much time.....

First, I went along on the Madison Audubon field trip to Baxter's Hollow SNA. Baxter's Hollow is a very cool spot. It's a true hollow in a sense that the hills wrap around a small valley with a stream flowing through it. it's a lone hill in sort of a "C" shape.
It will come up on Google Maps if you search "Baxter's Hollow".

At the start of the trip, the leader's wife brought a Turkey Vulture to show everyone. That was pretty cool. If you haven't see a TV close up, I recommend it. They may be ugly looking but they are cool birds.

The little hairs on the head are cool.

This one had a broken left wing that was healing so he coundn't lift his wing very far. 

Then we went for a walk. The birds were rather minimal. The only interesting ones were a pair of Broad-winged Hawks, a flyover B Kingfisher and several singing Louisiana Waterthrush. The LAWT nest at Baxter's Hollow.

Since the birds were rather scarce, we spent most of the walk looking at the vast carpets of wildflowers. Trout Lilies and Spring Beauties were by far the most common and were spread in thick carpets on the woodland floor.

Marsh Marigold grew in the wetland areas (I forgot to remove the sticks before I took the pic):

Saxifrage. I don't remember what species though:

Any guesses? If you said Jacob's ladder, you're correct:

I don't remember exactly what this is. I like the picture though. 

Nodding Trillium! Not flowering yet, but give it a week or so. 

See all the green on the forest floor? Know what it is? If you said Garlic Mustard, you're wrong. Dead wrong.  All the green is Spring Beauties. Solid Spring Beauties. 

Here's more a little closer:

Someone found a Caddisfly! 

Then he came out!

Then some Wood frog eggs were found:

This Female Cowbird was carefully watching the Female Louisiana Waterthrush. 
Parasitism in action:

A Trout lily. Still not open yet. 

I'm not sure what this is. Probably in the Hepatica family though:

This Spring Beauty didn't focus like I wanted it to:

The Trout lilies carpeted the forest floor:

Here's a closeup of one flowering:

And another Trout Lily.  I had to get under this one to take this shot:

The Stream at Baxter's Hollow.  This is across the road from where the Mourning Warblers like to hang out:

After spending the morning at Baxter's, Peter Fissel and I headed down to the Spring green Preserve. The land is owned by the Nature conservancy.

Here's the view from the top of the hill:

The hillside here has been cleared of everything woody and is currently growing up as a tallgrass prairie.  It has some specialty species that are more reliable here than anywhere else. 

Some of the best ones that can be found here include Grasshopper Sparrow, W Meadowlark, Dickcissel and this spectacular adult male Lark Sparrow:

This bird was VERY cooperative. He was still sitting there when I walked away. 

Peter and I also found several Pasque Flowers in bloom:

Although, the flower foiled my attempts to get a clear, focused shot. 

After we left the Preserve with a targeted Lark Sparrow written down, we headed down to Pearl Rd and County G to find the flooded field that we had seen from the top of the hill. 
We found the Flooded field (actually, it was more of a shallow "Lake") but didn't find any shorebirds. We did find a flock of about 60 Yellow-rumped Warblers though. 

This beautiful adult male posed several times for his picture:

Then he showed off his bright yellow crown:

Even better, he posed out in the open on a fencewire:

And then showed his crown stripe!

Just before he took off, I snapped another picture:

Peter and I then ran down to Bakken's Pond. The water is much higher than I've ever seen it. 
Normally, everything in this picture would be marsh grass and reeds. It's all water now:

Here's a shot of the boat landing. The water is way higher than usual:

Besides half a dozen Ducks and a million Coots, I was also able to pick out this adult Palm Warbler:

It was a fun day! I wish everyday was a full birding day like that!  Unfortunately, it's not. So it's back to nose-to-the-grindstone for now.... plus a little birding on the side! 


A. said...

Sounds like you had a productive birding day! Your pictures are fantastic. I like how you can even see the hairs on some of the flowers and leaves. The pictures of the Butterbutt came out good, too. :-) I've never had any luck photographing those.

Happy birding!

Parus said...

Yea, if I had a better camera, it would have come out even better.

I haven't had much luck photographing Butterbutts either. This bird just happened to sit out in the open.
The light was good and the bird was being good. It was the best opportunity I've ever had to get a decent shot of a YRWA.


Neil Gilbert said...

Nice wildflower shots Chris! Very cool Lark Sparrow too! You're killing me with all these eastern birds...


Parus said...

lol, yea, but you keep turning out fantastic western specialties that leave me in the dust.
Your Bigby list is be about 3 times what my will be too. :D

Anonymous said...

Are Lark Sparrows sexually dimorphic? How can you tell the genders apart in the field? Thanks, and fabulous photos!

Parus said...

They aren't in the bird book. But, I tend to think of Male Lark Sparrows as being "Gaudier" perhaps, than the females.
Even in non-dimorphic species, the females tend to be duller and not as bright. The Males of most species also tend to sing a lot more than the females.
There are species that are completely identical though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on the Lark Sparrows. So, are you basically guessing on the gender of this bird then? Or did you have side-by-side comparison with another Lark Sparrow? Or what?

Sorry for being a pain, I was just interested that you labeled it as male when there is no note of dimorphism in the books. Thanks for putting up with me!

Parus said...

Well, actually yea. Based on the little info I had (the bird was very brightly colored and sharp, and it was singing like it was defending territory) I guessed that the bird was a male. There's no sure way to tell in the field though.

Some birds though, are always male to me. N Goshawk for instance. Whenever I see an adult, I always call it a male, even though I can't really tell for sure.

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, yesterday evening I had an unusually excellent side-by-side comparison of a pair of Lark Sparrows. I do think you're right about the male being brighter plumaged. There was also a significant size-difference (male larger). It was very coincidental! ;-)

Maybe a study should be done?

Parus said...

Probably. I should check and see if someone has done one yet. It would be interesting to do though.

Ivars Krafts said...

Beautiful pictures -- from flowers to birds. Keep up the good work!

Gallicissa said...

Nice post! Sounds like a very successful trip.