While I’m working on part II of the Costa Rica Trip Report series, I thought I’d do a quick local update since things, and by things I mean birds, are on the move. That being said, it may be a few more days until the next post as I’m spending a lot more time birding and a lot less time inside writing; if you’re a birder, you’ll understand.
Although this past Sunday marked two weeks since returning from Costa Rica, it was Saturday morning that I finally noticed I’d settled back into reality. It’s like catching yourself in a moment of bliss and realizing you’re completely in the moment and completely happy (this is one of the many reasons I bird – I catch myself marveling at a bird and recognize that I’m completely in the present; no thoughts of the past or present, just what I’m doing at that moment). So it was Saturday morning as I recognized I had completely shifted back into reality (i.e. mentally I’d finally landed back in Menasha, Wisconsin). Rest assured I’m still researching and exploring my next birding vacation (Peru, Cambodia, Borneo, Cuba, a return to Costa Rica) so although I’m back to reality, the impact of Costa Rica is still weighing positively on my shoulders.
And let’s face it, back to reality is not necessarily a bad thing, especially with spring migration picking up speed. Since returning on March 29th, I’ve added 5 new yard birds with the latest being a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Sunday and two mallards strolling across my lawn last Thursday. My yard list should grow nicely this spring since I didn’t move into my house until the middle of June last year; I’m hoping to add a decent number of migrants in the next 8-10 weeks.
I do apologize for the quality of the next photos! I was putting on my shoes – ready to walk out the door – when I noticed a bird at my hopper feeder that looked just a little different. I grabbed my bins, then my camera to fire off a few shots through the window, and then I had to bolt for easter at my sisters. A bird I had set a plate for all winter finally showed up for a spring brunch – yard bird #27 – Purple Finch!
Saturday was the monthly meeting for the Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club and our resident speaker, birder, and yard expert, Neil, presented on “Birdscaping Your Yard.” In typical fashion, Neil mixed wit, information, and humor which made for an enjoyable presentation. Before the meeting I met up with Michael to bird Mosquito Hill. I found a few new year birds, like Fox Sparrow and Eastern Bluebird, but the highlight was easily the Red Fox pups we came across. The two pups eyed us suspiciously for a couple of minutes before returning to the safety of their den. Following the meeting I had good intentions of joining the group for lunch, but at the turnoff my birding instincts took over and I decided seeing a few more birds was more important than feeding my gut. By the time all was said and done, I racked up 17 new year birds on Saturday in about 2 and a half hours (that makes 32 new Wisconsin year birds since returning from Costa Rica). Ahhh yes, returning to reality and playing catch-up does have some nice rewards.
Sunday my buddy Beatty and I did a 3.5 mile hike at Hartman Creek, which is just west of Waupaca. Beatty and I have some grand plans over the coming years and they started with this hike (more on those grand plans in the future, but for now a little tidbit to chew on – one of our planned trips will cover 200+ miles of hiking). It was somewhat of a mental struggle to walk at a hikers pace and not stop and investigate every chip, chirp, and leaf rustle. Thankfully, Beatty is easygoing and has an appreciation for all things nature, including birds. After living with me for two years and having to look at endless pictures of birds I “oooeed” and “awwwed” over, how could he not? Seriously, I showed that cat WAY more birds than any non-birder deserves to be put through. It did however work! Beatty’s interest in birds has grown over the past few years and he’s just recently started to keep a list of birds he’s seen. So for me, it was a thrill to show him some new birds and point out their key field marks. A few of the highlights included Fox Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Raven, Eastern Phoebe and Northern Flicker.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope to have part II of the Costa Rica trip report completed this weekend or early next week. Writing time has taken a bit of a hit as longer days and spring migration means more time in the field and less time in front of the computer. But hey, isn’t that what Bird It Up! is all about?