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Mysticete's 2021 Birding log (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
So I have found over the last few years that writing movies reviews on Letterboxd has substanstially improved my film knowledge, so why not apply the same principle to birding?

So here is my attempt at chronicling my birding/naturalist exploits over the last year. It's probably going to be a blog more than anything else, and I expect the entries are going to be sparse for the next few months (Birding in winter in Wisconsin, while better than Wyoming, isn't the most fun experience).

Anyway...
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
So January 1st...time to start my county list for Winnebago and my yearly list! I slept in a bit today and procrastinated on starting my birding. Generally, in winter that isn't a horrible thing: I find winter birding to be less time sensitive than during other seasons. I finally, after gassing up on fuel and drink (very much hot chocolate weather!), I managed to hit up the first site by 11:00 am, Asylum Point County Park.

This isn't the greatest spot, however the open areas and prevalence of weedy areas has apparently produced shrikes in the past, and I have had look with winter sparrows and finches here along the road margins. So was mostly seeing if I could start off the year knocking off American Tree Sparrow. These are relatively common wintering birds in my area, but you really have to visit the right habitats to see them. Upon entering the area I got my first proper ebird sighting, a pair of Mourning Dove on the telephone wires. I spent a very short time driving the roadways, which wasn't easy or very enjoyable as the part attracts 50 bazillion ice fisherman, all with big pickups, and the snow meant I had limited room to pull over. Birding wasn't the greatest here, perhaps foreshadowing the rest of the day, only seeing a couple of groups of Black-capped Chickadee and a good flock of House Sparrows. I suspect some American Tree Sparrows may have been mixed in, but the views I got weren't great and there was nowhere for me to properly pull over and scrutinize them better. Still...the nice thing for January 1st is that any bird is a new bird, so I am up to at least 3 species.

Next I drove north, focusing on Lake Winnebago. There are several spots where the Fox River empties into the lake, creating large ice free areas that are attractive to ducks and such. The first stop was Kimberly Point, where I added the expected ducks for this time of year: Mallard, Canada Goose, and Common Goldeneye. The latter are remarkably abundant here in contrast to the Traverse City area of Michigan, where they are scarce. Same latitude just different side of the lake, so a bit interesting. I was also able to pull a female Hooded Merganser out of a group of mallards, which was a nice addition for the time of year.

I continued on, trying a few other spots. Adjacent Riverside Park didn't give me much in the way of waterfowl, just a pair of Mallard. Jefferson Park however was pretty productive. I had probably 800 Common Goldeneye here, a record large enough that Ebird flagged it, along with a large number of Mallards and Canada Geese. Try as I might, I couldn't pull a American Black Duck out of the mix. Adding to the year list was a small number of Common Merganser and more surprisingly a good-size flock of Ruddy Ducks. Normally, I might see one or two this time of year: Here I had 26, which was again flagged by ebird. Despite the Ruddys, duck diversity was more limited than normal, with no scaup, Redhead, Bufflehead, or swan. It's been a milder winter so far than normal, so I wonder if that might be affecting duck diversity, and those other birds are hanging out in areas that are normally iced out already. Also seen here were the first two American Crows of the year, and a passerby pointed out a Bald Eagle in the tree. Wisconsinites love there bald eagles, and any random person who sees you with binoculars will just assume you are looking for eagles.

By this point my feet were frozen, but I wanted to hit up one other site before calling a day: Heckrodt Wetland Reserve. This is one of the best birding locations in the area, and contains forest, swamp, pond, and field habitat, and is protected, so no worry over getting shot during hunting season. It's also very well covered by local birders. Finally, they have an elaborate feeder set up which even during the pandemic has been kept well stocked. For those of us without feeders, this is a great place to get a lot of typical wintering birds. Normally...not so much today.

Watching for 15 minutes sadly only revealed a small number of Slate-colored Juncos and a couple of Grey Squirrels, my first wild mammal of the year. I also added a small group of European Starlings which flew across the road near the entrance.

I had planned to stay longer, but the cold and a rapidly filling bladder (alas, while many places have remained open during the pandemic, the bathrooms haven't), led me to head off home. I'll definitely hit off Heckrodt again soon though, as even in winter the feeders produce way more than this usually.

Overall a bit disappointing start...I expected a few more species of ducks and certainly more songbirds at Heckrodt. At least it gives me more motivation to bird?

Year species total:
Birds: 13
Mammals: 1
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Of course, waking up today I see several birders did far far far better than me today. Blegh...I hate winter birding.
 

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