The day after my trip to the Brillion State Wildlife Area, which you can read about here: October Local Recap (Part I), Michael invited me out to his place to see among other things, the Lincoln’s Sparrow which had been calling his hedgerow home for the past few weeks. It was a nice treat for multiple reasons; I need the Lincoln’s for my year list, I never get extended looks at this somewhat secretive species, and it’s always fun birding with Michael. Well, the Lincoln’s didn’t disappoint and I was happy to spend a good 15-20 minutes watching it feed near the hedgerow. Yes, you can classify this as a LBJ (little brown job), but the fine brown streaking on a golden breast really make this one snazzy sparrow.
After a couple of hours of morning birding, I bid adieu to Michael and took a quick swing past a local sod farm on my way back to town. American Pipits were relatively close to the road and I spent some time photographing and watching them feed.
Later in the afternoon after returning home I peered out my windows and was happy to see yard bird #40 enjoying my pond – a Hermit Thrush. The photos below were snapped through the window so not the best pics, but a few doc shots none the less.
The following weekend, October 17th, was our bird clubs monthly field trip. We spent the morning birding the Navarino Wildlife Area. Although the birding was relatively slow, we still managed to check 30 species and I added another new year bird, a Ring-necked Pheasant (admittedly, I’m a bit embarrassed to have missed the pheasant until now, but at least I’m not going to miss it for the year!)
I also added another butterfly to my fledgling list – an Eastern Comma warming itself in the early morning sunlight.
The final full weekend in October produced another excellent day of birding. Neil, Vicki, and I birded our way down to Goose Pond in Columbia County on Sunday, October 25th. It turned into a nice fall day with warm weather, sunny skies, and each of us tallying at least one FOY (first of year). How does it get any better? Well, let me tell you – adding two lifers! Although I’d gotten distant looks of a Vesper Sparrow in the past, I never had a good enough look to tick it off. Well that changed this day as we came across one perched on a nearby wire giving excellent looks. My other lifer was a Tufted Titmouse which we found later in the day at the Mud Lake Wildlife Area.
We stopped by Goose Pond in the morning and then again after lunch and were rewarded both times. In the morning, we had excellent, close-up views of a small flock of White-rumped Sandpipers – the same species from my Part I post at the Brillion Wildlife Area earlier this month. These were much more cooperative as they were feeding right next to the road in optimal lighting. The long, extended wings, rufous coloring on the back, think bill, and white rump are all readily apparent in the photos below.
Goose Pond also hosted a number of cackling geese. The cacklings are similar to a Canada Goose except noticeably smaller. The size comparison can often be hard to tell from a distance, but two other diagnostic field marks are the short bill and relatively short, thick neck. Compared to the Canada Goose in the photo below, you can see the difference in bill and neck size.
Although I didn’t get photos of it, during our afternoon visit to Goose Pond we were witnesses to a dive-bombing Peregrine Falcon. I’ve seen Peregrines many times – perched, feeding on the ground, soaring in the sky – but what we got to see was something I’d only seen on TV. While watching it through the bins soaring high in the sky, it suddenly folded both of its wings back and dropped straight down towards the pond like a heat seeking missile. With a top speed of 242 mph, the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest member of the animal kingdom and it was truly breathtaking to see it dart towards the ground at those speeds!
October was a good month; I made it out each weekend, spent some quality time birding with a number of friends, visited the Birds in Art exhibit, collected a handful of FOY birds and added a couple of lifers. Life is good – go Bird It Up!