Thursday, June 23, 2016

Birding Wisconsin

Cedar Waxwing at the Gill Farm
 The Wisconsin adventures are about to begin.  I'm still on the road and will be getting back to you all during the month of July so I apologize for my absence. It has been a fun trek into the Eastern part of the US looking for rarities and other beautiful things. 

My niece is growing up SO FAST!
I'm spending much needed time with the family.....

A mother Eastern Phoebe guards her nest
 ......and their birds.  Sometimes I tune out and revert back to my old self.  Just for a moment. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at a nest in Peninsula State Park
 We explore nature preserves, campgrounds and meet wonderful new people on the road. 

Searching for Barn Swallow nests in an old cattle barn at the Gill Farm
I eat Mom's homemade cooking.  There are dumplings and kraut, brats, sausage sticks and CHEESE!  Yum!!!  We grill out.  We gossip. 

And while doing so, my lifer American Woodcock stops to visit while I am without my camera.  I do have a Malibu and Rum in my hands though.  It figures that a secretive bird would stop by and visit when I am not prepared!  My family all watched the bird land and then take off.  The moral of the story.  Never leave your camera in the car:)

My brother gets the fire going.  I make the same expression when the American Woodcock stops by to PEEK on us. No photo.  Next time.
Other birds stop by and calmly pose for photos.  Heck!  Some of them even nest on the porch!

Babies take selfies.

The family gets together for Father's Day
And Downy Woodpeckers come for a sip at the feeders. 

My brother Jared exposes me to a new toy....the drone.  It's easy to operate, but the filming part is tricky.  I safely navigate the drone away from people and birds, but my brother has other ideas:)  

And while all this commotion is going on, I sneak in the time to chase rare birds in Wisconsin. There are rainy days which I treasure because the cool temps allow me to sleep in and enjoy my vacation. 

The Little Gull
 Every part of the world has its challenging birds. Here in Wisconsin, gulls are the challenge as are the many flycatchers.  I like gulls so I don't mind sitting through the thousands of them looking for one or two rarities. 

Red Admiral
So on this overcast and cool morning, I scoured the Sheboygan shoreline and found 3 Little Gulls mixed in with the hundreds of similar looking Bonaparte's Gulls. 

The header to this blog contains a Bonaparte's Gull so you can imagine how much I loved observing all of these birds.  They are one of my favorite gulls that I don't get to see often because I'm in Arizona:) It was a treat!  After a half hour, I located one Little Gull on a shoddy pier.  

Bonaparte's Gulls and a Little Gull.  Can you find the bird?
 Other gulls joined the fun as the Little Gull wobbled around the "Big Leagues".  I think Ring-billed Gulls are small but when they stand next to the Little Gull, they are GIANTS!

A Ring-billed Gull is a giant to the much smaller Little Gull
At the end of my count, I found 3 of them mixed into the crowd.  They have a shorter bill, are a quarter size smaller than the similar looking Bonaparte's Gulls, and have darker legs.  The cap on the head was also slightly different as were the primary tail feathers.  But to the naked eye, they look the same.  I found these birds because there wasn't anyone around me during the early morning hours.  The birds made their weird sounding short squawks at one another. Once I located the "different" calls, I was able to have a debate inside my head.  Why aren't these Bonaparte's Gulls?  I know. I know. I need to see a counselor:)  But hey, it's better than getting into a political debate with my father!  So let's turn off the news, internalize a little more, and enjoy nature!  Birds make for a much healthier debate:)

Door County with the family.  My niece catches me falling asleep on the ferry to Washington Island
At the end, I was confident about my ID. Native to Northern Europe and Asia, these Little Gulls have a known smaller population around the Great Lakes area and East Coast.

The people started arriving and asking me about the Pelicans.  Instead I spoke with them about the rarer gulls.  I helped other birders get on the birds and it was a satisfying bird challenge. But the people were still jabbering on about the PELICANS!  So I'll jabber about them as well in a future post:) Their presence is significant. Today it's raining in Wisconsin and I love it.  The temps are a cool 58 degrees and I have the house to myself!!  I sip my coffee with my gentle music playing in the background.  The doors are open and a breeze is moving through the house.  Tonight, we try out Bloody Mary's at a local restaurant.  Yeah, birding and family is a lot of fun.  Over the next several weeks, my friend Gordon and I will take you on some epic adventures that truly challenged us in the state of Wisconsin.   

I'd also like to make a shout out and thank Nancy and Earl Gill for their wonderful hospitality. Several of the photos featured in today's post are from their property. Nancy gave me a tour of their beautiful farm and a delicious jar of canned pickles!  I like pickles but these pickles are amazing.  Needless to say, I'm rationing the jar:)  SO GOOD!  There are so many shades to birding.  I love Wisconsin.  I love the relaxed pace.  Arizona birding is wonderful but it's stressful when you're with so many professional birders! They've made me a better birder, but sometimes the birding can be demanding there. Here, it seems less stressful with a lot more laughing.  And when I'm with my Shire, I feel at home.  Until next time........


  1. It sounds like a great way to spend the summer, and just what you needed!

  2. Great to read that you're enjoying life in general as well as the birds, of course. And, that Little Gull -- can't say enough about that find! Way to go!

  3. Hope you are having a great time with family and also with your birding. What could be better than that! what wonderful colors on your blog with all the birds, have a great week, cheers.

  4. I loved this post to find you happy with you family and birding and not as stressed. Woudln't mind one of those pickles!!

  5. Just stop by to say hello after a while. Your birds photos are so fabulous or even more than before. I especially like the first image which looks like a Japanese painting. You’d feel fulfilled with your activities and beautiful family. Nice seeing you again.


  6. Welcome back. Your Wisconsin is such a beautiful state I saw white Pelicans in east Dubuque Imagine that. Have a great time with family

  7. Beautiful series of photos! :)

  8. so many great captures. but, that little gull is my favorite image. sounds like you're having a great time with your family. your niece is a beautiful young lady. hope your adventures continue to go well. stay safe...

  9. Wonderful photos - sounds like a super holiday - catching up with family and birding and it sounds as though you are de-stressing. The pickles look rather delicious :)

  10. You were only a few miles from my neck of the woods when you were at Peninsula Park. I hike there often summer and winter. This whole costal area of Wisconsin is a birder's paradise. Being a migratory route in Spring and Autumn - there seems to be an unlimited amount of birds here. Love this place. The Lake here is so much a part of the life of Wisconsin and my garden. So nice to see your posting today. Jack

  11. What a wonderful post and series of photos. Thank you. We have a gentle breeze today. Time to turn on some music.

  12. Balance - makes the journey sane! Love seeing all your worlds come together in one big happy place!

  13. What a wonderful time for all of you, nothing more to ask about a vacation.
    And of course so much fun for us to read your lines and look at your wonderful takes, it would be so hard to pick out a favorite one...


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