Birding on the Auto Tour- photo by TOM SCHULTZ
Cloudy skies and occasional drizzle were encountered by birders heading to Horicon on the morning of 8/14, but fortunately our field trip was dry. It was a cool day, however, with the temperatures ranging from 63 – 67 degrees, and a light NE wind. The 25 attendees gathered along Hwy. 49 at 7:00 AM and started scanning the marsh.
The water was quite high again this year, with little or no shorebird habitat available, so we contented ourselves looking for ducks and other waterbirds. A couple of family groups of COMMON GALLINULES were observed, as were young AMERICAN COOTS, and a few PIED-BILLED GREBES were swimming about. WOOD DUCKS, MALLARDS, and BLUE-WINGED TEAL also in view.
At least three BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS passed by our group in flight, and a few GREAT EGRETS and GREAT BLUE HERONS were spotted also. A few BARN and TREE SWALLOWS were flying about over the water, and a CHIMNEY SWIFT passed overhead.
After about 30 minutes our group headed over to the Horicon Auto Tour, where we gathered to take attendance. We drove partway around the loop, then parked and walked out along the west end of Old Marsh Road. Along the edges we found SONG SPARROW, SWAMP SPARROW, MARSH WREN, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, CEDAR WAXWING and EASTERN KINGBIRD.
A GREEN HERON and a BELTED KINGFISHER flew over our group, as did BLACK TERNS and BONAPARTE’S GULLS. A LESSER YELLOWLEGS was spotted along the edge of a channel, and a number of WOOD DUCKS, MALLARDS and BLUE-WINGED TEAL were also present. A young BALD EAGLE provided scope views as it perched on a distant dead tree.
Driving further along the Auto Tour we stopped at a marshy area where quite a few shorebirds were present – including GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, WILSON’S SNIPE, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, and WILSON’S PHALAROPE – with some of them giving us great views. Most of us were also able to get decent looks at SORA and VIRGINIA RAILS, although they were playing “hide and seek” in the cattails.
After completing the Auto Tour we drove back across Hwy. 49 and parked along Ledge Road to hike out along the east end of Old Marsh Road. In the trees bordering the first section we had nice looks at an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, spotted a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, and also a group of TREE and BARN SWALLOWS, and a few PURPLE MARTINS.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON- Photo by JUDITH HARACKIEWICZ
Further out we had a few more BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS fly past – both adults and juveniles – and some in our group were able to get brief looks at flying LEAST BITTERN and AMERICAN BITTERN.
BLACK-NECKED STILT- photo by TOM SCHULTZ
After nearly a mile we reached a shallower section of the marsh where shorebirds were present. These included SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, WILSON’S SNIPE, and a family of BLACK-NECKED STILTS – which included two adults and a couple of fledglings.
A few more COMMON GALLINULES were also spotted, as well as families of AMERICAN COOTS, a few PIED-BILLED GREBES and AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS were also fun to see, as well as a couple of TRUMPETER SWANS.
WHOOPING CRANE- Photo by ANDREW MAHER
Most of us headed back toward our vehicles shortly after 11:30, but a few continued hiking a little further, and were lucky enough to get good looks at a WHOOPING CRANE!
Altogether for the day we totaled 65 species. Thanks to Jeff Baughman for co-leading this field trip, and to all who attended.
Tom Schultz, WSO Field Trip Committee