[wisb] Big Day report 5/15 (long)

  • From: Chris West <little_blue_birdie@xxxxxxx>
  • To: "[Wisb]" <wisbirdn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2010 19:09:34 -0500

Hi all, 
I'm going to try this one more time...... apparently, Wisbirdn doesn't like 
"list" forms.Hopefully this will be slightly more legible: 

By popular request, here is the report of our Big Day this past Sat, May 15th: 
After rather hastily throwing together a route and not really doing any 
scouting, we didn't do too badly. The lack of Flycatchers and Warbler flocks 
really killed us though. 

Best birds were: YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHTHERON, King Rail, Both Ibis, BN Stilt, 
Avocet and N Mockingbird. 

Full account below: Jenny, Danny and I met up in Madison where we took Jenny's 
car and headed off to our first destination. We had left just enough time to 
scout out Mud Lake a little for our first birds of the night. Then we parked by 
a pair of Eastern Screech-Owls and ticked them off at 12:01. By 12:15 we were 
down at the end of Tollefson Rd listening for Rails. We quickly picked up a 
Virginia and, with a little work, a King Rail shortly thereafter. 
Our next stop was Grand River Marsh where we quickly picked up Grasshopper and 
Henslow's Sparrows. A run through the marsh added a few more marsh birds plus 
Great Horned and Barred Owls. 

Skipping Comstock Bog, we headed straight for Buena Vista, but first, to 
Stevens Point to pick up Alyssa. Arriving at 4am, we managed to get turned 
around in town (yes I hate the roads in that city and yes I can now find my way 
around it blindfolded) which cost us about an hour. It was nearly 5am before we 
got out on the marsh. Short-eared Owls were gone, but at least the Prairie 
Chickens were still calling. Brewer's Blackbirds were common and a pair of 
Upland Sandpipers gave us good looks. 

Skipping Sandhill WA, we cut down through Adams County where we picked up 
Vesper Sparrow (our only Vesper Sparrow actually). We also picked up an Osprey 
sitting on a nest (our only Osprey too). 
Necedah NWR added a bunch of new species. The Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are 
back at the usual spot. Behind the visitors center (which they're building a 
new one btw) there were three Trumpeter Swans and we had a flyby Whooping 
Crane. We also managed to pick our only Cape May Warbler out of the pines. 
Meadow Valley flowage ponds had a pair of Trumpeter Swans and (somewhat 
surprisingly) a pair of Common Loons. Ball Rd was devoid of Le Conte's 
Sparrows. Interesting since I know they're back and I've never missed them 

Along Ball Rd at the very southwest corner of Sandhill WA, Danny spotted a N 
Mockingbird sitting on the fence. Def the surprise of the day. 

We then booked it down to Baxter's Hollow. We had arrived a bit later than I 
had wanted to and the hollow was nearly dead. We did pick up Louisiana 
Waterthrush (after a bit of work), Wood Thrush, Swainson's Thrush and our 
second Hooded Warbler of the day. We almost missed Blue-winged Warbler but 
managed to find one near the gate to the TNC property. 

A quick run down Burma Rd at Devil's Lake produced almost nothing. No 
Ceruleans. Though I did hear a Kentucky Warbler on the way out.

In Arlington, we found a pair of Eurasian Collared-doves with little 
difficulty. Harvey Rd had the Red-necked Phalarope among a flock of Wilson's. 

We then raced to Horicon Marsh having only a couple hours of sunlight left. At 
Horicon, we picked up just about everything we wanted. The Black-necked Stilts 
(4 of them) along Dike Rd, Both Ibis, Avocet, both Godwits, Whooping Crane and 
quite a few shorebirds along Hwy 49. We didn't find Tom Prestby's Mockingbird, 
but we did add both Bitterns, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Great Egret, and a few 
other species along the auto tour road. 

Not having a good place to find Whip-poor-will (we had missed it that morning) 
we decided to call it quits and head home. 

We ended with a respectable 167 species for the day. Not bad considering it was 
hastily thrown together, we got lost a couple times, wasted too much time at a 
few spots and didn't do any scouting. 
After dinner at TGI Friday's in Madison, we dropped Danny at his hotel and 
retrieved my car from the park & ride. I then ran Alyssa back to Stevens Point 
and finally crashed around 1:30am at a campground in Bancroft. 

As usual on a Big Day, we missed some species that should have been easy. The 
lack of Flycatchers really killed us. We missed some species that should've 
been easy. 

Here's a list of some of the more notable misses: 
  Ring-necked Pheasant 

  Ruffed Grouse

  Sharp-shinned Hawk 

  Cooper's Hawk (Alyssa was the only one to see one)

  Red-shouldered Hawk

  Broad-winged Hawk


  Black-bellied or Golden Plovers (has anyone seen any this spring??? I had one 
BBPL at Schumacher Rd one day) 

  Sanderling (since when does one miss this one in May?)

  SemiP Sandpiper (none at all anywhere)

  Baird's Sandpiper (how we missed this I shall never know)

  Pectoral Sandpiper (few and far between this spring anyway)

  Common Tern

  Any Cuckoos (since when do you NOT find YB Cuckoo?) 

  Short-eared Owl

  Ruby-throated Hummingbird (not sure how this happened...)

  Whip-poor-will (not a peep out of one anywhere)

  Alder or Willow Flycatcher (they SHOULD be back by now....)

  Acadian Flycatcher (apparently we missed one by an hour at Baxter's)

  Purple Martin (I'm actually not surprised since you have to go to Milwaukee 
to find this one for sure)

  Tufted Titmouse (still not sure why there weren't any at Necedah)

  Brown Creeper (how??) 

  any Kinglets 

  Hermit Thrush (I STILL have yet to see one this spring)

  Cedar Waxwing

  Northern Parula (how does one miss this at any time in May??) 

  Le Conte's Sparrow (is it that they're not nesting on Ball Rd anymore? where 
are they?) 

  Lapland Longspur

Anywho, all in all, it was a good day. Despite some of our almost pathetic 
misses. I'm hoping to run the same route again next year. Hopefully with better 
results and more advanced planning. 

On my way home on Sunday, I stopped at White River Marsh where I finally got my 
FOY Eastern Pewee. Def one of the latest dates ever for me. 

Til next time! 
--2010 Team "Bird's the Word" Chris West, Jenny Wenzel, Danny Akers and Alyssa 

Happy Birding! --Chris W, Richland County 

"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first 
material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the 
composer; but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no 
more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be 

(From William Beebe's "The Bird: Its Form and Function," 1906)

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