Thursday, March 26, 2009

Loons, Buffleheads and Mystery Flower and Mystery Birds

Dan saw loons on Monona Bay on the Equinox, but today was the first time I saw the loons on Lake Monona while biking on the bike path by John Nolen Drive. The contrast provided by the busy road on one side and the wild loons on the other never ceases to amaze me. I love to see the loons, and was glad to see them back! They will leave soon to go further north, so I intend to enjoy them while they are here. We couldn't get any pictures of them since they are quite shy, and dive underwater quite often when noticed (I can relate to that!) It's a pity because in the spring they are quite beautiful. In the fall, they have their drab winter coats on, or they are juveniles who haven't gotten the adult plumage yet. However, in the spring, only the breeding birds return. The juveniles stay by the ocean for three years until they are mature. The fact that the loons can live in salty oceanwater and freshwater at different times of the year seems another amazing thing about these endlessly fascinating birds.

Later, I took the girls to Olin Park with some binoculars, and we got to see the loons close up. We also ended up seeing some buffleheads on the lake through the binoculars.

Today was also the day we found the first flower in our yard. We have no idea what it is. So, if you have any ideas, let us know!

I also saw two birds that I've never seen before at Quann Park today. I couldn't see them very clearly, but my not too much better than random guesses are they were a ruby-crowned kinglet and an eastern phoebe. The kinglet was in the trees as it was supposed to be, and the phoebe was in the grass like it was supposed to be. The birds were about the size they were supposed to be too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring Equinox!

We went for a walk in the Arboretum today to celebrate the first day of spring. It was very cold (with temperatures right around freezing), and we couldn't find anything green. Not very spring-like, but not atypical of Wisconsin! We found some Magnolia buds that were the next best things to something green. Though I have some vague memory that these buds look this way in December too. I'll have to check next winter!

Two turkeys and lots of robins were other companions we found on our cold walk!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ring-Billed Gulls

We saw lots of Ring-Billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) on Monona bay today. I looked up in the Birds of Wisconsin book and found that these gulls go away for the winter. So maybe they are just coming back. Or maybe they were just enjoying the first of the open water on Lake Monona after quite some time. I'll have to pay closer attention to my first sighting of a gull next year.

I also finally saw some grackles close enough today to say they are back. In the past few days, I feel I have heard them, and maybe seen them in the distance, but today was my first definitive viewing of them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Killdeer and Chives

A beautiful day with highs in the 60s! Today was the first day I heard the kill-dee kill-dee call of the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). They must be back! I also heard a couple of other bird calls that I couldn't identify. So other birds are back too! I'm not very good at identifying bird calls. I need to get help from my daughter who has good musical abilities.

Chives are up in our garden!

Also, this weed is up. Anyone know what it is?

And unfortunately for those of us allergic to maple pollen, the silver maple buds in the picture above look about ready to burst open.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daffodil Shoots

We saw daffodil shoots poking through in our front yard today!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Robins at Olbrich Gardens

We saw five or six robins this afternoon at Olbrich Gardens. A sure sign of spring!

I also saw a robin by our house in the morning, and one in Quann park in the evening, but that may have been the same robin that I saw about three weeks ago, that either migrated early, or has been spending the winter here. We will have to look in our neighborhood over the next few days to see if we can find more than one robin.

Last year, we also saw robins at Olbrich Gardens before they came to our neighborhood. This made Maynie speculate today that maybe Olbrich Gardens is one of many gathering places for robins. Maybe the robins show up first at the gathering places, and then everywhere else. We'll have to go to Olbrich Gardens again next spring to see if they show up first there again. Olbrich Gardens is north of here, so they should get to our neighborhood first since the robins come from the south. So we'll have to see if and why they show up further north first. Write in your robin observations to help confirm or reject our theories!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Red-Winged Blackbirds are back!

I saw my first red-winged blackbirds of the year today by Wingra Creek! They were with a flock of either other red-winged blackbirds, or some other black colored birds (maybe grackles?). I couldn't get close enough to see.

I heard and saw a whole bunch of Canada Geese too. There seem to be a lot of those moving around these days. I heard a bird call that may have been a killdeer today. But I don't know my bird calls very well, so I may have been wrong.

I haven't seen any robins yet. I find that surprising because my memory is that the blackbirds usually come after the robins. So, let me know if you see any robins. Maybe they will come with the warm weather that is coming in the next few days.