Monday, October 19, 2009


Loons are back on Lake Monona! I think I saw them on Saturday, but I went again on Sunday with binoculars to makes sure.

Male red-winged blackbirds seem to be back in the neighborhood after being missing for two months. I see them everyday by Wingra Creek now. Are these are summer residents (back from hiding), visitors from further north taking a long break here, or a continuous stream of new migrants everyday stopping and taking a short break before flying even further south?

I saw my first White-Throated Sparrow of the fall in our backyard on Sunday, Oct 18.

Also on Sunday, where Rowell St meets Lakeside St, I saw a huge flock of birds on the power lines, making a lot of noise. They were a little smaller than robins, and had heavily streaked chests. Their bills were long, thin and sharp. From looking at the bird books, the only thing that I found that is similar to what I saw are female red-winged blackbirds. I'm not entirely convinced that my identification is correct though. (10/26/09 - In retrospect, these probably weren't female blackbirds at all. Maybe starlings?)

I also saw some kind of grebe on Monona Bay. I think it might have been horned grebes, but again, I'm not really sure. There were also shovellers, coots, gulls and lots of geese on Monona Bay. And also one heron! It is a fun time to look on the lakes. All kinds of visitors!

I have been noticing that there are still many trees with all green leaves! I had always thought that most trees had leaves that had at least started to turn, if not already turned and fallen by this time of year. But, I guess not! I'll have to observe this time of year next year and see if the middle of October is always this green, or whether this is an anomalous year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Frost

We had our first frost and first freeze Friday night (Oct 9th). It fell to 27F. Then we had another night in the 20s Saturday night. We also had our first few snowflakes on Saturday, Oct 10th! It is cold. I hope we still have an Indian summer coming. My memory of last year is that it didn't happen. Once it got cold, I don't remember it getting warm again until April!

I have been seeing Robins now and then, and also Red-winged Blackbirds. Lots of birds moving around. I assume they are migrating, but maybe they are our local birds who are suddenly visible and audible again. I feel I am hearing and seeing lots of birds I don't know too, but I never get a close enough look to tell for sure.

I heard a Robin singing feebly today, and a woodpecker drumming! I've read that birds will occasionally confuse this time of year for spring (since it has the same amount of daylight). But maybe these birds were just practicing for next year.

I saw my first Junco of the fall on Saturday, Oct 10 in our yard, but I haven't seen another one since. I also saw what I think are grebes on Monona Bay on Saturday. I also saw lots of gulls and geese. I am trying to keep track and see if the gulls migrate, or if like the mallard ducks, they stick around for most of the winter. I haven't seen any loons yet. I am waiting eagerly for them to come through.