WSO field trip – Eagles trip to Buena Vista and Bear Bluff
Our WSO field trip on Saturday, January 28th produced a nice turnout, with about 25 birders meeting at 8 AM on County Road W near Bancroft in Portage County. The sky was partly cloudy, and the temperature was about 20 degrees, which wasn’t bad, but it felt quite brisk due to a moderately strong west wind. Our meeting place turned out to be a good one, as we had a good number of Greater Prairie-Chickens in view from time to time — sometimes standing or running, and sometimes in flight. Our highest count was an awesome 51 birds! Also in view from there were a couple of Rough-legged Hawks.
We headed west on W about 0.3 mile and turned north on Taft Road, and then west on Lake Road. Some of the group spotted 8 Common Redpolls as they flew past and briefly landed, and then just beyond we found our first Northern Shrike of the day. It was a nice find, but it turned out that through the morning we gradually reached a total of five shrike sightings! We also found several Snow Buntings in open fields.
We turned south on County Road F, and then east on Griffith Ave., where more Snow Buntings were spotted. On Town Line Road we headed south, and a little ways before we reached Woodland Lane we spotted a Pileated Woodpecker as it flew east of the road between a bunch of dead trees. At the Woodland Lane intersection a home on the east side of Town Line had several bird feeders, and the birds there were quite active. Our day list expanded greatly as we observed goldfinches, redpolls, juncos, Am. Tree Sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, Blue Jays, and others. The real highlight, however, were the woodpeckers, including Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied and, best of all, a showy Red-headed!
As we reached Tower Road we turned west and headed toward Hwy. 73 and Nekoosa – and along the way we had a brief look at an Eastern Bluebird. After a brief “pit stop” at a gas station we continued west on Hwy. 173. Three Bald Eagles and a Red-tail were soaring over the road just
west of the city as we were driving toward Babcock, and then we went west on Ball Road along the south edge of Sandhill State Wildlife Area. We had brief looks at a Common Raven as we passed by, and then a short distance beyond a large dark raptor was spotted flapping and occasionally soaring. Our caravan came to a stop as the bird approached the road, and we had spectacular looks at an immature Golden Eagle as it crossed right in front of us and continued south.
Upon reaching Cranberry Road we turned south and then after a while, west on N. Bear Bluff Road. While in view of Bear Bluff off to the west, a couple of Bald Eagles were spotted flying on our east side, and then another more distant bird that we suspected might be another Golden Eagle. As we continued on our route, and back to Cranberry Road, we suddenly spotted an adult Golden much closer overhead — which we guessed was likely the distant bird that we had spotted a short time earlier.
Continuing south toward Mather we encountered two more Common Ravens on the ground, and then we took County Road H to Hwy. 21 and then followed it through the city of Necedah and on toward the Petenwell Dam. On the way we encountered a small group of Wild Turkeys, and then at the dam we saw several more Bald Eagles, a couple of Common Goldeneye and a Common Merganser. We wrapped the field trip up around 2 PM, and everyone split up and headed for home – under mostly sunny skies and a temperature of 32 degrees.
Thanks to Jeff Baughman for co-leading this outing, and to all the hardy souls who participated.
WSO Field Trips co-chair
Green Lake Co.
Posted: January 29th, 2012