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Category Archives: Wisconsin

This spring two birds have turned up at my feeders that I have never seen on the farm before. The firs photo is of an Eastern Toehee. When it first turned up I thought the Baltimore Orioles had returned but I was wrong. A pair of Toehees spend their time feeding on the ground and running from under the feeder to a bush that provides shelter. The second bird is the Yellow-rumped Warbler which also turned up a few weeks ago. There are a number of them and they seem to like to feed on the suet.

A bird that I have not seen for several years also turned up at the feeder last week. The Red-breasted Nuthatch used to frequent my feeders and finally returned after an absence.

I still have lots of White-throated Sparrows around. Fortunately they are ground feeders and seem to do a good job cleaning up under the feeders.

Last week the male Rose-breasted GrosbeaksĀ  returned. I have not yet seen the females. The only spring birds that have not returned are the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles.

Rose-breasted Grosebeak

The two geese nesting on the first pond are still nesting. There was one big change. On our last visit the pond was full of water and the small island where the geese normally nest was covered so they nested on shore. Today we found that the pond has lost several feet of water and part of the island was visible. Not sure what happened but I suspect a Muskrat dug a tunnel and let some of the water out. One bird was on the nest and the other bird was stationed on the emerging island.

On the second pond we found a pair of geese with their young.

Lots of Yellow-rumpted Warblers flying around today. We seem to be seeing them everywhere.

The Prairie Smoke is still just starting to come up although the warm weather should help.

We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.

There are a variety of spring flowers blooming on the south slopes of the hills on the farm.

Large-flowered Bellwort

Large Flowered Trillium

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Downy Yellow Violet

Common Blue Violet

Pussytoes

Wood Anemone

This past week I saw large numbers of American Goldfinches at my feeders. I hadn’t seen many for a while but the are really back and loving a new thistle seed feeder.

The second most frequent visitor to the feeder is the White-throated Sparrow. They tend to turn up in large numbers in the spring. They are ground feeders so it is not unusual to see a dozen of them on the ground under the feeders.

I’ve seen Yellow-rumped Warblers around the farm in the spring but this is the first time I’ve seen them at my feeders. There seems to be about a half dozen of them that are enjoying my suet feeders. The first few days there were only males at the feeder but I’ve noticed a females are now showing up.

I have a number of Chipping Sparrows at my feeders. The too seem to like the Suet feeders.

On a beautiful cool morning my wife and I took a walk on the Red Cedar State Trail. There were large numbers of flowers out along the Trail. The Bloodroot and the Pussy Willows were just about done blooming. It was early in the morning and the Bloodroot had not opened yet.

Bloodroot

Pussy Willow

The White Trout Lillie’s were out in some places. When we walked by the first time they were not open yet but when we returned they had opened.

 

The Anemone were out in large numbers along the trail.

 

Wood Anemone

Canada Anenome

There were large groups of Spring Beauty blooming on the side of the trail.

Lots of Common Blue Violets can be found.

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills since returning from vacation. We were curious to see if the Canada Geese had nested at the ponds again this year. We were happy to see one pair had nested on the first pond. Normally they nest on a small island in the middle of the pond but the last few years the water has been so high that they have been nesting on shore. One was on the nest and the other staged nearby watching as we approached.

On the second pond we didn’t find any birds but there were quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves. Normally when we approach they slip into the water but this time they just continued to hang out and ignored us.

After walking around the ponds we headed out into the Prairie area to check on the birds. We wanted to see if the Tree Swallows and Easter Bluebirds were nesting yet. The bluebirds were sitting on one of the bird houses and several pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing them. The male stayed off to the side but the female maintained here position on the house to protect it from the swallows.

There were a few flowers out. The Marsh Marigolds were out around the first pond and the Prairie Smoke was just starting to come out in the Prairie area.

 

 

Three of my photos from Big Falls County Park appear in the April/May 2017 issue of 5ive For Women magazine page 13.

We took a drive down to Devil’s Punchbowl and Paradise Valley to check out the ice. Not much going on at the Punchbowl but the warm weather and running water at Paradise Valley produced some nice edge ice. It was a little tricky getting across the stream because there has been quite a bit of water running this winter. I did find out from a friend that what I have been calling Paradise Valley does have a more specific name. It’s called Tripp Falls Ravine. More photos from Trip Falls Ravine can be found on my website.

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When I first started photographing birds I had to do it from my basement window because I didn’t have the right lenses to photograph them at the feeders. The birds would go to the feeders to get seeds then fly to a lilac bush by the basement window to eat them. This made it easy to get some close shots. Over the years I acquired better lenses and started photographing from my large windows by the feeders. I recently went back to my roots and spent the better part of a day photographing from my basement window.

Dark-eyed Juncos were around in large numbers after being absent for part of the winter.

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Black-capped Chickadees were around in large numbers. This seemed to be their favorite perch for eating.

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There were also a few Northern Cardinals around but they were a little skittish and wouldn’t come near the window.

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