Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Milwaukee Lakefront, 9/29 - White-crowned Sparrow (first of season)

I added a new Milwaukee walking BIGBY species today, bringing my total to 144 species for 2010. It's been almost a week since BIGBY species #143. Hopefully things will start to pick up again soon with waterfowl migration.

A few highlights:

* Several White-crowned Sparrows in Lake Park. Various locations. BIGBY species #144. I really like the vividly contrasting black and white stripes on the crown. Perhaps my favorite sparrow.

* Dark-eyed Junco. One bird. In the ravine under the iron bridge in Lake Park. It's funny...I saw a small flock of juncos almost a week ago in Veterans Park and assumed I'd be seeing them regularly now. Today's bird is the first junco I've seen since last Thursday.

* Two Brown Creepers working on the same tree trunk in Lake Park. That may be the first time I've had multiple Brown Creepers in sight at one time.

* At least a half dozen Savannah Sparrows foraging on the rocky shore just to the north and south of Bradford Beach. Maybe the most Savannah Sparrows I've ever had in a single outing.

* Yesterday morning the American Coots behind the art museum were very cranky. They were constantly chasing each other agitatedly. One bird would swim rapidly towards another, and then they'd start skittering across the water on their feet. They rarely flew. They were also calling a lot. I never realized before how comical their calls can sound. The coots have been there for two weeks now. Maybe they're starting to get on each others' nerves. :-)

* Speaking of coots, the water behind the art museum was so calm and clear Monday morning that, in a couple of spots, I could actually watch the coots under water after they would dive. I could watch them go down to the bottom and then come back up with a choice morsel of vegetation. Very cool!!

Finally, a couple of fish highlights:

* On Monday I watched a school of maybe 300 6-inch-long fish swimming in tight synchronized movements. This was at the far north end of the sidewalk behind the art museum. It was interesting to watch the school twist and turn, but still keep in tight formation. At one point they became briefly stuck in a loop, swimming in a circular motion. Made me wonder what dynamics are at play that keeps their movements so coordinated?

* On Monday and Tuesday there were several very large fish swimming near the surface in the same area as the school I mentioned above. Probably not a coincidence? The fish looked like Lake Trout (I could be wrong, but they did have the looks of salmonids). They were easily 2-3 feet long, with the largest definitely 3 feet. They were so close to the surface that their dorsal fins would occasionally show above the surface. On Tuesday I was actually watching them with my binoculars. I believe that's the first time I've ever used my binoculars for fish watching. :-)

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