"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
~ Robert Brault
We're finally beginning to see a slight increase in the variety of migrant songbirds at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. During the Madison Audubon field trip on Saturday, we found Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, plus a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Swainson's Thrush. Birding the same area with Dottie and Sylvia today, we added Canada Warbler to the weekend tally. Still, migration seems behind a week or so and a couple of eBird tables showing warbler species at Pheasant Branch Conservancy appear to bear this out:
Note: The high "Number of Individuals" in the 2013 August 21-25 is due to 5 outings. But even when considering my somewhat inconsistent number of checklists per date grouping, there's solid evidence that migration is stalled, late, or perhaps something else is going on.
One birder told me she believes the reason there are so few warblers in southern Wisconsin right now is because they perished during the cold spring. Though the weather during spring definitely created hardships for migrating songbirds, I think what we're witnessing now is a product of the southerly winds we've had for the past few weeks – the birds don't like to fly in a headwind, even though some manage to migrate despite this.
Still others have speculated that birds may have initiated breeding and nesting later than normal (because of the cold spring), putting birds behind schedule now. However, we should keep in mind that the timing of bird migration is closely connected to the photoperiod. There's one more week to go for August, but the weather isn't looking promising for migration until Tuesday night when a weak cold front moves through.
It's extremely difficult to digiscope warblers in the woods this time of year, but there will likely be a few songbird opportunities before the leaves start to change color and fall. In the meantime, I confess I've become somewhat obsessed with insect photography. If I keep it up, I may have to change the name of this blog! However, as regular readers of my blog know, I've always enjoyed adding insects like butterflies, dragonflies, and tiger beetles to my blog stories. Lately, I've been in pursuit of the very tiny bugs, like leafhoppers, treehoppers, and planthoppers. They're super fascinating creatures!
Brown Stink Bug
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle
Glyptoscelis? Leaf Beetle
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Aug 24, 2013 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Great Crested Flycatcher
All images © 2013 Mike McDowell