Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue

With such views, people often forget where they are standing.  Is it the Caribbean sea?  Or is it Central America?  There are times when I think I finally understand why warblers migrate to the US during the summer.  Wisconsin, during the summer, is humid and rainy. There's lots of forest area for nesting. No different from Costa Rica or Panama. 

Winter Wren
Almost embarrassing to admit but I hadn't ever seen a Winter Wren before.  So I spent an afternoon on this one species in a dark wet forest. Just to give you a "real" picture of what I was working with here, I've included the actual lighting of this forest. Personally, I think this photo below is much more magical and true to form.  When one speaks of a perfect moment, this is what I envision.  An emerald green background, a calling wren, no one around and a magical birding moment.  Perfection.  

When I finally located a Winter Wren calling, I observed the bird for about an hour absorbing the call and behavior. I watched the bird move from one patch to another. Photography is sometimes about prediction.  I saw a spot that was good for this bird to perch and the gamble paid off. It's naturally mousy, fast and difficult to see!

We hiked through a lot of forest.  Sometimes we had little people on the trails with us. 

And sometimes I was alone with no one around for miles.  I had an entire forest to myself!   Well, and the deer:)

One of the places I monitored nearby home was at a preserve known as Woodland Dunes.  In fact, much of my work was done here while I was home for the last week. It's quite a large area and unfortunately, I did not have the time to cover it all.  

White-throated Sparrow
I did, however, find several rare nesting birds in this area.  There is nothing more beautiful than the song of the White-throated Sparrow.  During my hike for the Winter Wren, I came upon 3 of these sparrows in the forest.  As one sang, his melodic voice carried over other bird song. The song was both haunting and beautiful at the same time.  I write haunting because I also imagine a serial killer coming along the trail to take me out.  And I imagine that it's the last bird song I'll hear.  Of course none of that happened.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I would like you all to know that I have a VERY healthy and active imagination.  The only blood spilled on this day was from the mosquito activity on my legs. 

I did some other work at the "Dunes" with director Jim Nickelbine.  One day we took the pontoon out and surveyed nesting Sedge Wrens, Ospreys and Bald Eagles. That was a fun and relaxing way to bird.  Plus the company was wonderful. 

Cindy Lupin and husband were just a few of the characters I kept bumping into while birding.  They were really nice people and her hubby made a delicious apple pie!
 I met up with my owling mentor Bernie and his wife for lunch.  The Lupins brought the pie and invited me to have a piece with them.  That is the beauty of Wisconsin birding right there.  People mix food, socializing and birds together.  That's what birding is all about!  There are some great conversations that come from it all!  I learn so much from everyone on the trails.  

Bernie trained us several years ago about banding owls.  He joked and called me the paparazzi:)  Maybe he wasn't joking....:)  In any case, this guy is the main reason why the Woodland Dunes exists.  Today it's home to hundreds of species and becoming an international destination for birders.  He is retired now but his legacy lives on.  This guy is another major player in the Two Rivers/Manitowoc area for preserving important lands.  With a lot of work and I'm sure stress, he saved the Dunes from becoming a factory wasteland.

During our conversation, I find out that at least 12 or 13 warbler species nest in the Woodland Dunes area. That is amazing considering that some of them should be nesting further north.  But for years, these warblers have relied on the Woodland Dunes as their preferred nesting area.  I also found out that Bernie needs a Hermit Warbler. I invited him down to go chase this warbler and I think it will happen!! It's the least I can do for all the stuff he's taught me. So after lunch, it was back into the woods to try and find another one of those sneaky warblers. 

Mourning Warbler
Sure enough.  There were Mourning Warblers.

And the loud, yet secretive, Ovenbirds. There were lots of them! They are also considered warblers.  

Pine Warbler
And by the gods, if there weren't Pine Warblers.  Somehow, these warblers flew under my radar!  Now I know.  I dipped on two other warblers, the Canada and Hooded Warblers.  They aren't supposed to nest in the area but they do.  They are not as common, but they are there.  It just means I'll look for them again when I'm home during the summer. 

So many of you are probably thinking, Where is Gordon?  Well, he's coming up.  We spent several months putting this bird expedition together and I have been organizing those photos and blogs into a coherent line of thoughtful writing:)  I was home alone for a week after Gordon left so that I could spend time with the family.  It worked out really well.  Anyhow, there are some funny tales to be told.  A post titled, The Kingsguard, is by far the most memorable experience this year.  Stay tuned.  There's lots more reporting and storytelling to do from the beautiful state of Wisconsin.  Until next time.....

To the Canadians out there, hope you had a wonderful Canada Day! And for the US readers, Happy 4th tomorrow! Be safe and remember to be careful where you shoot those fireworks:) Arizona, let's keep the fires down to a minimum. Like 0 minimum:) We're just about done putting out the ones started in June!


  1. Happy Independence day.Another wonderful post adn I love your winter Wren both close up adn in the forest.

  2. so many great images... you've had quite the adventure looking for those warblers. hope all is well. have a great night~

  3. Hi There, I have really enjoyed your Wisconsin pictures... Do you miss living there? I wouldn't want to live there in Winter ---but I have blog friends who love love love it year-round... I wouldn't want to live in Arizona either (ha) ---so guess I'll stay right here in the Smoky Mtns of TN.....

    Great post/pictures.... I'd love a piece of that apple pie, please....

    Our Carolina Wren is tiny --but he/she can sing a beautiful and LOUD song for me...

    Hope you had a great 4th.

  4. Another super post with some great photos and wildlife. So good to read of your enjoyment of birding. The apple pie sounds tasty!! :) Hope you had a good Independence Day.


Thanks for stopping by!