I have admittedly been doing too much easy birding. Getting started later and later on Saturday mornings and not staying out as long. And as my last post suggested, I was blaming the consistent weather for the SAMENESS of the birds. Maybe the amount of traveling I did for work in October contributed, but I was in a rut.
Time for a change. So I decided I needed a day of birding like I used to do every Saturday to break the rut. Make a plan, up early, and get out the door. See what’s out there. So that is what I did.
Pre-Sunrise – Great Horned Owl
I started an hour before sunrise and drove the road south of Franklin to see if the GREAT HORNED OWL was on its usual telephone poll. And sure enough silhouetted in the glow of the town lights it sat. I drove by and stopped a little further down the road to look back. We watched each other for a bit before the owl decided I might be trouble and flew off to the woods to the east.
And with one exception that was how the day would go. Many of the expected birds were on their “spots”.
I’ve used this photo before but it is one of the few Great Horned Owl photos I have and I feel I should post a photo since I’m talking about it. A sleeping Great Horned Owl from Middleton, WI. 10/11/09
Sunrise/Early Morning – Ring-billed Gull
The first few hours of the day were spent at Driftwood SFA. And as usual it had birds in the trees plus birds in the air. The first bird I saw on the morning was a RING-BILLED GULL. Not that unusual elsewhere but uncommon in basically waterless Johnson County as seen by this being only my second sighting this year. I assume it had been following the adjacent Flatrock River.
A little later I saw a juvenile BALD EAGLE which was definetly following the river’s course.
Not any unexpected passerines at Driftwood. The day startled at sunrise with EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, CEDAR WAXWINGS, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and DARK-EYED JUNCOS in the same tree.
I like this photo because it shows how similar in size different species can appear in the field. Cedar Waxwing (upper right), Eastern Bluebirds (center), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (lower-left). Lower center bird is another Cedar Waxwing. I really had never noticed that these different species seem similar in size. Driftwood SFA 11/07/15
And a comparison of Eastern Bluebird and Dark-eyed Junco. Driftwood SWA 11/07/15
Sibley lists the following sizes:
Eastern Bluebird – 7″
Cedar Waxwing – 7.25″
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 5.5″ (seems bigger, plump shape?)
Dark-eyed Junco – 6.25″
So not really all that close in size but puffed up in the early morning chill they can appear similar from a distance.
Over the next couple of hours I would see my first non-Mallard/Wood Duck waterfowl of the fall – RING-NECKED DUCKS. And I ended up with a slightly uncommon YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, my first in Johnson County for the year.
I ended up having a productive two hours at Driftwood which says something about getting up and out the door.
In a couple of days I’ll post about my late morning and early afternoon adventures. And some changes at Laura Hare Nature Preserve.
Two beavers were working the north portion of the lake. I forget how big these guys are. Driftwood SWA 11/07/15
Two Eastern Bluebirds showing their color. Driftwood SWA 11/07/15
A Great Blue Heron basking in the morning sunlight. Driftwood SWA 11/07/15
A group of Grebes (say that 3 time fast) swimming away. Pied-billed Grebes at Driftwood SWA 11/07/15
A beautiful fall morning to bird. Driftwood SWA 11/07/15