There have been a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers around this spring and they have been around for almost three weeks. Most of them have been along the Red Cedar State Trail and the Red Cedar River. There was quite a bit of snow still on the ground when they arrived. I’ve also seen a few of them around the farm which is very unusual. I suspect they are around in large numbers because of the heavy snowfall to the north and they ended up stopping in this area until the snow stopped falling to the north.
Yesterday I saw two new birds at my feeders. The Yellow-rumped Warblers are migrating through. I have been seeing lots of them along the Red Cedar River but today I saw my first one on the farm. I think this is the first one I’ve ever photographed on the farm.
The Eastern Phoebes have also been plentiful along the Red Cedar River. I normally have them build a nest around the house and yesterday I saw my first one of the season on the farm.
Something really unusual happened on Saturday. The sun was shining. Since spring started I think we have seen the sun about three times. On most of the other days it has snowed. Since the sun was out my wife and I decided to take a walk on the Red Cedar State Trail.
The no walking signs have been removed so people can now walk on the trail but with all of the snow some diehard folks are still trying to ski. On Saturday the trail was 90 percent snow covered between Menomonie and Irvington. In the morning the snow was crusted and the bare spots were frozen. by late morning the snow had turned to slush and the bare spots were muddy. Most of the hike was along the side of the trail where the ground was solid.
We hadn’t gone three hundred yards and we saw a Sharp-skinned Hawk on a tree next to the trail. Of course, my camera was in the pack. He didn’t seem concerned about our presence so I started to get the camera out when I notice a large group of kids walking towards us. I figured they would scare the hawk away so we just watched the hawk until it finally flew away.
We started seeing large numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Veerys, Brown Creepers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets along the trail. It was a great day for birding. We also saw a couple of Bald Eagles fishing along the Red Cedar River.
The first flower of the year was also starting to bloom. We found Skunk Cabbage poking through the snow several places along the trail.
Late in the morning we started to be plagued by what I think were snow flies. We could hardly open our mouths without getting a bug flying in. In some places the snow was almost black with them. The birds were having a field day. There were large groups of swallows flying above the river.
On Monday we hiked the trail from Irvington to the five mile marker. On Monday there was less snow but where there was snow it had turned to ice so waking was a little difficult. There were a lot fewer birds although we did see and hear a fair number of Sandhill Cranes and saw a few eagles. There were also quite a few of Buffleheads in the river.
We had another six inches of snow overnight.
We had a bad storm on Monday and when I stopped at Hoffman Hills I noticed there were a number of large willow tree branches had blown down around the ponds. There were a large number of warblers in and around the downed branches. I spent quite a bit of time photographing the various warblers. In all I saw four different types of warblers including Yellow-rumped, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow and Cape-may.
Trail conditions have greatly improved. Last Friday and again today the DNR graded the trail fixing most of the rough spots caused by early bikers and hikers walking on the soft trail. Conditions should be good for biking/walking on the trail unless we get a hard freeze and thaw. Unfortunately as the snow leaves the trail the litter starts to show through. I’ve started to carry a bag along to collect some of it. Unfortunately just North of Irvington a number of the folks who live above the trail have seen fit to dump everything, including the kitchen sink, out their back door along the trail. Today I noticed someone had posted a sign along the trail that said “Slobs Live Here”.
There are a variety of birds along the trail. The warblers have started to return. Last Friday there were hundreds of migrating Yellow-rumped Warblers along the trail where it runs close to the Red Cedar River. Today I only saw a couple of them. The next most common bird is the Red Winged Blackbird which can be seen all along the trail. The Eagles are on their nest at the 1.5 mile mark. Last Friday, around the 4 mile mark, I could hear a number of Sandhill Cranes and Some Turkeys. Today a flight of three Sandhill Cranes landed in the wetlands. There were also a number of Turkey Vultures flying around the area.
Flowers are starting to appear. The first flower to appear is always the Skunk Cabbage. They are now starting to get large leaves. Bloodroot can also be found along the trail. The Marsh Marigolds are also starting to bloom along the trail. I noticed several large clumps of Trout Lilies. They are not yet in bloom but should be blooming shortly. The Touch-me-nots are starting to emerge from the mud along the trail.
I’ve seen a few animals along the trail, a White Tailed Deer, and a Raccoon crossed the trail in front of me. On warm days the frogs are really out in force and you can hear them all along the trail.