Abe’s Arboretum Adventure Series – April 5, 2021

Abe’s Arboretum Adventure, 4.5.2021

TEMPERATURE: 61 degrees F
WIND: 10 mph, from the South-South West
BIRD SPECIES: 30 (https://ebird.org/checklist/S84840836)

Last week, I might have described today’s cloudy morning as gloomy, but not after two days of sun and temps above 65 over the weekend. The temperatures will dip cooler again as we all know, but this warm spell has been great for my hands. Waterfowl are wonderful birds, but when I have to stand in 30-degree temps and 10 mile per hour winds, my fingers go numb, and distract me from the water birds’ stunning feathers.. Potential for rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week.

Like last week, plant life hasn’t made much progress at the marsh, but it hasn’t stopped the birds from keeping things exciting. Great blue herons now consistently fly over the marsh on their way to their rookery. A rookery is a colonial/communal nesting site where big groups of GBH’s (their affectionate acronym) make stick nests and help each other raise young. See if you can spot the infamous GBH rookery on Arboretum Drive! Back at the marsh, the lack of rain has lowered the water level, which means there is enough mud available for shorebirds, or shorebird I should say. Shorebirds are notoriously difficult to identify, and this lone ranger was too far for me to make a call. Venturing beyond the marsh, my friend the belted kingfisher arrived over the weekend – it holes up in the small bay just outside the marsh on Wingra Creek every year. Listen for the chattering call of the kingfisher, and once you find it, wait until it dives into the water for a fish. It’s an action shot that ought to be filmed for a nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough. The osprey that overlooks the marsh every year returned this morning. I guarantee there will be more interesting stories to come from the masked raptor that is the osprey. The rest of the FOYs (remember, cool birder acronym for first of year) included american wigeons, brown-headed cowbirds, and an eastern phoebe (look for their little brown tails bobbing incessantly while they call out “phoebe”).

Waterfowl, herons, raptors, and songbirds make the Arboretum home. And only a fifteen minute bike ride away is downtown Madison. The diversity of birds 10 minutes from my apartment wouldn’t be possible without protecting urban natural areas like these. What is your favorite place (big or small) to see the natural world wake up in your hometown??

See you next week,