Sunday, September 19, 2010

Veterans Park, Milwaukee, 9/19/10 - Sedge Wren AND Marsh Wren (both new BIGBY birds)

Part way into my walk this AM it started to rain. I almost cut my outing short, but I had my umbrella along with me and decided to continue walking in the rain. I'm glad I didn't head home, as I picked up two interesting new BIGBY species, bringing my Milwaukee walking BIGBY species count up to 137 species. (What's a BIGBY? See:

There wasn't much of note for most of my walk, other than a flock of at least 200 Canada Geese grazing on the big lawn at Veterans Park, and about ten American Coots behind the art museum.

The heaviest part of the rain hit while I was at Lakeshore State Park. It was kind of cool to look at the Milwaukee skyline in the mist and rain, and watch the storm head out east over Lake Michigan. Just glad it wasn't a thunderstorm. This is NOT the place to be with lightning around. You're out on a peninsula in the harbor, and for most of the time the top of your head is the highest point around. Makes you feel like a lightning rod.

The rains ended just as I hit the south end of Veterans Park. I spent some time scanning the large flock of Canadas in hopes of seeing a stray blue phase Snow Goose or a Cackling Goose. No luck. I then focused on the Veterans Park lagoon. No waterfowl other than the resident Mallards and Canadas. But I did have two nice highlights:

* There's an area on the east side of the lagoon where the grass is never mowed, giving it a prairie-like look that merges into a thick stand of willows and shrubs. I don't imagine it would be worth your while to go out of your way to bird here, but it's a nice location on my BIGBY walks. I kept thinking I was hearing Sedge Wrens calling, but I've been known on more than one occasion to mistake a Common Yellowthroat call for a Sedge Wren. Sure enough, a male Common Yellowthroat emerged from the brush. But then some motion caught my eye not twenty feet away...Sedge Wren posing nicely on the top of a weedy plant! They are very attractive little wrens. Haven't seen one in maybe 4-5 years. BIGBY species #136.

* I've been spending a fair amount of time lately (several hours?) at the far south end of the Veterans Park lagoon. Nice area with cattails, willows, and other shrubs and small trees. Every once in a while it holds some interesting birds. Most of the time lately though it's just been Gray Catbirds, Palm Warblers, and White-throated Sparrows. Today I kept seeing a small bird flitting in and out of the cattails. Every time I'd get my binoculars focused the bird would be gone. After about 25 minutes of waiting patiently I finally got a clear view of the bird. Marsh Wren. After this brief view, the bird more or less disappeared. BIGBY species #137.

I'm assuming both wren species were migrants, as I've not run across either in these areas before.

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