Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Milwaukee lakefront, 8/25 – Swamp Sparrow, Philadelphia and Yellow-throated Vireos

I woke up early this morning inspired by the passage of last night’s cold front. I left my apartment at 5:30AM, while visions of migrants danced in my head. I hit Bradford Beach, the algae mats north of Bradford Beach, and Lake Park. Let’s just say the morning’s birding did not meet up with my expectations. I did have three new Milwaukee walking BIGBY species, but other than that the birding was surprisingly quiet. A couple of Lake Michigan birders on the Indiana birding list also have talked about how the front didn’t really bring in anything new today.

A few highlights:

* In a posting earlier today, Brian Hansen reported seeing 4 or 5 shorebird species last night at the algae mats north of Bradford Beach. I had high hopes that the cold front had brought some additional BIGBY shorebird species for me. I hung out in this area for quite awhile this morning and only saw a half dozen Spotted Sandpipers and one Semipalmated Plover. It’s almost like most of the shorebirds left this spot with the front last night, and no new birds came in with the front.

* I had a Swamp Sparrow as BIGBY species #87. At the far north end of Bradford Beach there is a small kind of wet area with native plants. I stop by this spot every day looking for sparrows, but haven’t seen anything. Today some movement in a couple of plants made me think there might be a bird down low. After watching for a couple of minutes, a Swamp Sparrow popped up and sat at the top of a plant for several seconds before it flew off.

* Up in Lake Park I saw a Philadelphia Vireo in an open area in one of the ravines. There may have been two. BIGBY species #88.

* In the same area as the Philadelphia Vireo I saw a hummingbird that seemed to have a personal vendetta going against a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. When I first saw them the hummer was pursuing the gnatcatcher. The gnatcatcher flew into some thick leafy cover. The hummer perched on a bare branch. When the gnatcatcher emerged from the cover, the hummer attacked the gnatcatcher again. This happened a couple more times. Made me wonder what got the hummer so riled up?

* Speaking of hummingbirds, I saw several over a five minute period while watching the jewelweed in the ravine north of the lighthouse.

* As I was leaving Lake Park I checked out the ravine south of the lighthouse and got a brief glimpse of what I’m pretty sure was a Yellow-throated Vireo. BIGBY species #89.

* Finally, I had a real treat as I hit the lakefront before sunrise. I heard a coyote howl plaintively twice. I’m used to hearing coyotes in other places, but it was a different experience hearing one in a city. Gave me goose bumps.

Well, I’m getting another early start tomorrow morning. Maybe some more migrants will show up.

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