Spent a lot of time birding in the beautiful Monday and Tuesday weather. I was out for eight hours yesterday alone, starting at 5:30AM. I located nine new Milwaukee walking BIGBY species, bringing my 2010 count to 135 species. (What's a BIGBY? See: http://bit.ly/cn3cbv).
It's kind of funny how sometimes a simple thing can affect you psychologically. On Monday I saw my first-of-season White-throated Sparrow hanging out with a mixed flock of birds by the Lake Park tennis courts. Didn't think anything about it at the time. Yesterday the WTSPs were all over the place...including a single flock with 30-40 birds, with several singing snippets of their sweetly haunting songs. The presence of so many winter sparrows made my brain shift subconsciously into winter mode, and I was cold for the next half hour or so.
First a couple of mammal highlights, both from Tuesday:
* A bat was sleeping under the overhang above the walkway on the south side of Discovery World. Not sure how it managed to get a grip there...the surface seemed pretty smooth. I'm guessing it was a Little Brown Bat.
* I saw a Gray Fox running through the large white rocks at the Summerfest venue near the entrance to Lakeshore State Park. I'm assuming it was one of the foxes that live at the park.
Here are the Monday bird highlights (an especially birdy day):
* I was serenaded by an Eastern Screech-owl as I walked past Lafayette Place where it heads down the hill to the lakefront. It was in some trees just to the east of a couple of ultra-modern apartment highrises. Kinda interesting contrast...the small owl vocalizing in front of the tall white towers.
* Lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, including one who burst into song by the North Point Lighthouse.
* Six thrush species in Lake Park: Hermit, Wood (BIGBY #127), Swainson's, Gray-cheeked, Robin and Bluebird).
* Five woodpecker species in Lake Park: Flicker, Sapsucker, Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied.* Both nuthatch species, including 3-4 Red-breasted. I don't know why it is, but when I see my first RBNU migrants in the fall, my gut reaction is "chickadee". Maybe it's the black and white pattern on the head. Then, a couple of seconds later, it registers in the old brain.
* Fifteen warbler species. No new BIGBY species, but fun none the less. This is the most warbler species I've ever had in one outing. Most were in a flock by the Lake Park tennis courts: Cape May, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Palm, Bay-breasted, Black and White, Redstart, Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Blackburnian, Wilson's, Pine, and Common Yellowthroat.
* Blue Jay. Only the third one I've encountered in my six weeks birding the lakefront.
* Turkey Vulture. Milwaukee walking BIGBY species #128, high overhead.
* Ruby-crowned Kinglet. BIGBY #129. Lake Park.
* White-throated Sparrow. BIGBY #130. One in Lake Park Monday. Everywhere on Tuesday.
* Lincoln's Sparrow. BIGBY #131. South end of Lake Park, where the upper part of the lake bluff is thick with foxtails.
And here are Tuesday's highlights:
* Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. BIGBY #132. Lake Park. As my Peterson's says: "a wash of yellow from throat to belly." Eye ring had a slight yellowish tint as well.
* Brown Thrasher. BIGBY #133. Flew by as I looked for sparrows in the foxtails at the south tip of Lake Park.
* American Coot. BIGBY #134. Four birds behind the Milwaukee art museum. Waterfowl migration has started!!
* Wood Duck. BIGBY #135. Veterans Park lagoon. I was distracted by the harsh sound of a heron's call. I found an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron who seemed a little irritated by the Wood Duck invading its personal space. I never would have noticed the Wood Duck if the heron hadn't been so cranky.