Friday, March 20, 2015

The Migration North

Long-eared Owl
I am spending my warm spring break this year in Wisconsin.  The temps are somewhat agreeable for the outdoors:)  It's definitely not the 90 degree weather back home!

Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary rescues 8 Red Fox pups after their mother was killed by a car.  I like to stop here when I visit to see what's happening at their center.  So grateful for all the work they do!  Plus they have nice bird feeders and it's a reliable place to pick up the American Black Duck:)  Over a hundred of these beauties mix it up with their Mallard friends along a wonderful wetland area. 
While hanging out with the family, I've managed to rack up some birds here along Lake Michigan.  The wintering birds are starting to head back north and my wintering birds from Arizona are starting to migrate back north into places like Wisconsin.  The Sandhill Cranes and Red-winged Blackbirds have made their debut!

Red-winged Blackbird
While here, I've gotten permission to survey a restricted area, visit a wildlife rehabilitation center, explore Lake Michigan's shoreline and surrounding marshlands. 

Family helps explore a restricted area near a nuclear power plant.  We obtained a permit to walk the land. Very cold!  But we found an active nesting pair of eagles!
It's tricky maneuvering as I try to balance family and birding together.  So far I've managed to land myself 4 new lifebirds including the American Tree Sparrow, Glaucous Gull, Northern Shrike and Rough-legged Hawk.  All these birds will be or are heading north.  I have been trying to track Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs, but I don't have many opportunities to chase these birds now as my time is coming to a close. I missed these birds in our area by just a few days.  They are now further north in Wisconsin!

Herring Gull
I met up with my favorite Manitowoc birder and former Professor, Doc Sontag.  We chatted for awhile discussing the various birding trends in the area for the month of March.  

Meeting Doc Sontag at the Manitowoc Impoundment
Balancing it all out is super tricky! Either way, it's weird watching a very active migration take place right before my eyes.  Everything this year seems to be a week or two early in many areas. 

American Black Duck
The birds out in Lake Michigan have been very exciting for me.  I love all the gulls and waterbirds floating around the piers and harbors. I've found the White-winged Scoters, Red-throated Loon, and the Common, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers!  Other delights include MANY Common Goldeneyes and Greater Scaups. But where oh where are those darned Long-tailed Ducks everyone is reporting:)?

Female Hooded Merganser
So for now, I leave you.  I still have "work" to do on this spring break.  

Red-bellied Woodpecker
I leave you now with one of my favorite lighthouses along Lake Michigan.  Until next time!


  1. It's great when visits to family can open new vistas to your hobby, Chris. That Long-eared Owl image is stunning! I enjoyed the rest of them too!

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

  2. Finding balance can be hard but very valuable! Glad you had a great trip!

  3. That's sure a change of scenery. Nice to get family time and birding.

  4. Looks like a good spring break. Seems you're getting some family time while birding. Very neat to share your interests and learn more about each other.

  5. A cracking set of images especially that first one.Stunning. Have a lovely weekend.

  6. Great set of images especially the lighthouse one - stunning :) It can be difficult to get a balance at times but it sounds like you are having a great time :)

  7. Oh the Owl!!! What a beauty.
    Glad you got time to come back to the Great Lakes. It's a bit chilly but I'm sure you are enjoying family.
    I need to see that lighthouse this summer.

  8. So glad you got to go 'home' for Spring Break... I'm sure you enjoyed seeing family and they enjoyed seeing you.. Glad also that you were able to do some birding...That little fox pup is adorable...

    Love that picture of the lake and lighthouse... Fabulous shot.


  9. Great pictures, Chris! I love the female hoodie and the red-bellied woodpecker!

  10. Great pics Chris. Red-winged Blackbirds are awesome creatures. And of course the Long-eared is a stunner. The final landscape is worthy of a wider audience - a fine picture.


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