October Local Recap (Part I)

Saturday morning at the Brillion State Wildlife Area.
Saturday morning at the Brillion State Wildlife Area.

Just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been birding. In fact I’ve been out birding each weekend and while I started the post you’re currently reading two weeks ago, I’ve been busy reading, doing yard work, and disproportionally slacking. Now that I’m back at it, I thought I’d combine my weekend exploits into two posts recapping the month of October.

It was a beautiful fall weekend in Wisconsin and taking full advantage of being outdoors, I was rewarded handsomely. Saturday morning (Oct. 10th) Dar, Ross, and myself headed out to the Brillion State Wildlife Area in search of Nelson’s Sparrow. Dar had been out there earlier in the week and found patches of smartweed – a favored habitat of our target species. I was introduced to this wildlife area a few years ago by Dar and it’s become one of my favorite local areas due to the lack of people; you can hike this area for hours without seeing another soul – my kind of place!

Dar and I on the search for Nelson's Sparrow - Brillion State Wildlife Area 10-10-2015 Photo: Courtesy of Ross - although I didn't ask Ross so if I show up on your doorstep naked and penniless, you'll know I've been sued.
Dar and I on the search for Nelson’s Sparrow – Brillion State Wildlife Area 10-10-2015.
Photo: Courtesy of Ross – although I didn’t ask Ross so if I show up on your doorstep naked and penniless, you’ll know I’ve been sued.

In the spring this area normally floods into a large pond and I scope waterfowl from the edge. During the fall the water recedes leaving small ponds and mudflats. On this morning, with rubber boots on, we trekked farther into the mud and muck than any of us ever had and it was strangely exhilarating to be standing shin-deep in muck, dragging heavily clad boots forward one step at a time.

Pre-trek through the muck, Dar and I watch a flock of shorebirds skim along the mud and water 10-10-2015. Photo courtesy of Ross.
Pre-trek through the muck, Dar and I watch a flock of shorebirds skim along the mud and water 10-10-2015. Photo: Courtesy of Ross.

I know what you’re asking – “Hey Knucklehead, you’re three photos into a post on birding and not a single bird photo. What gives?” Well, you don’t need to get pissy!

Dar and Ross scanning for birds at the Brillion Wildlife Area 10-10-2015
Dar and Ross scanning for birds at the Brillion Wildlife Area 10-10-2015
The most numerous bird of the day - Savannah Sparrow. This is one of the best photos I've taken to date - I really like the composition and caught it perching nicely. For a high res image checkout my Flickr link on the right-hand side. Brillion Wildlife Area 10-10-2015
The most numerous bird of the day – Savannah Sparrow. This is one of the best photos I’ve taken to date – I really like the composition and caught it perching nicely. For a high res image checkout the My Flickr Photos link on the right-hand side. Brillion Wildlife Area 10-10-2015

Although we missed on the Nelson’s Sparrows, we were treated to a flock of 35 White-rumped Sandpipers; easily the largest flock any of us had ever seen. Trekking into the deep mud, I was able to scope the birds from a relatively close distant and get some decent photos.

White-rumped Sandpiper
Although you can’t see the white rump, the heavy bill, especially near the base, and the long wings projecting beyond the tail are easily seen. Those long wing projections really make this sandpiper look elongated. White-rumped Sandpiper – Brilion Wildlife Area 10-10-2015

It’s not often that I take a selfie, but after sludging around in the guck and glop on a beautiful morning with a couple of great birding friends, and seeing that large flock of White-rumped Sandpipers, I caught myself in a moment of bliss and couldn’t resist.

One happy birder at the Brillion Wildlife Area - 10-10-2015.
One happy birder at the Brillion Wildlife Area – 10-10-2015.

Oh yes, and Ducky made an appearance! The previous weekend was our birding clubs monthly meeting (Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club). We travelled to Wausau to take in the 40th anniversary of the Birds in Art exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. The exhibit was outstanding and one that I highly recommend if you’re in the area. The museum was giving out the free ducks and asking people to post photos with the tag #birdsinartducky

So, you can expect to see my Ducky making appearances in upcoming posts.

Ducky migrating east from the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau to the Brillion State Wildlife Area 10-10-2015
Ducky migrating east from the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau to the Brillion State Wildlife Area 10-10-2015

On the way out to Brillion we made a few stops and came across a flock of Rusty Blackbirds. This is a species I always enjoy seeing, because they are in rapid decline; populations have declined 85-90% in the past 40 years!

Rusty Blackbird - 10-10-2015.
Rusty Blackbirds – 10-10-2015.

That’s it for now – I hope to have Part II completed by weeks end and then it’s back to tackling my Costa Rica Trip Reports. Until then, Bird It Up!

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2 thoughts on “October Local Recap (Part I)”

  1. First off, I am super-envious about your birding excursion. We are still not quite ready to go on regular outings with the kids. Too much school, too much life, and generally, the weather is bad on weekends. It’s gorgeous outside today, but we are loaded up with appt’s and school. Rats.

    ‘Disproportionately slacking.’ My kinda guy! Gotta hang back every now and again, and there’s no need to blog about that sort of thang. ;p

    I have never in my whole life seen a Rusty BB. TY for putting yours here! Most people think of BB’s as nuisance birds, but I beg to differ. They are so very misunderstood…disappearing ta boot. They need every hoot they can get from us.

    Ducky! Such a superb idea. My kids love taking tagalongs for photos. Ours is ‘Gnomie.’ Might have to change that given the need to advocate.

    Now…back to work on that Costa Rica post. You have a following to keep happy.

    PS – Speaking of advocating, I couldn’t help but notice the ‘hunting’ sign on the preserve. This makes me sad.
    https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Environmental_and_Animal_Groups:_Views_on_Hunting

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Shannon! Yeah, I wish they didn’t allow hunting on so much of our state lands up here, but we do have a large contingent of hunters in the state.

      If you and the family ever make it up this way, we’ll have to get you all out to see the Rusties! In the spring when they flock through during migration it’s pretty amazing – and I love their calls!!!

      Stay tuned – hopefully a fairly short part II later this week and I’ve started working on my photos for the next Costa Rica post 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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