This year’s outing was held, Saturday, April 22, 2023. Like last year, this is the latest date we’ve ever had this trip. (AGAIN a good thing, as Marathon County’s April weather has felt more like February). The weather was cold 32 degrees, breezy and partly cloudy. By the time we were done it was still only 38 degrees. We had a total of 15 attendees from across the state.
The water levels were very high on Smokey Hill Rd and Rangeline Rd. For some, this was their first visit to the Mead Wildlife Area. We ended the day with 77 total species as compared to the 90 species we had last year.
Our first car caravan stop was on County Line Rd, as I reported last year we did not see any GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKENS. It was the same for this year as well. We had a few HORNED LARKS and an AMERICAN KESTREL.
From there, we traveled to Smokey Hill Rd and stopped at the viewing platform on South Rice Lake. Pretty quiet here with a few LESSER SCAUP, HORNED GREBES and TRUMPETER SWANS.
We then stopped near North Rice Lake Rd where the group found a very cooperative SORA that the everyone got to enjoy. Earlier in the morning I had seen large numbers of blackbirds (mostly Rusty’s). We re-found the 100s of Rusty Blackbirds, for some of our participants these were life birds. Species on this stop included RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, TRUMPETER SWANS, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, HOODED MERGANSERS and AMERICAN WIGEON. We had a total of xx total species on this stop.
From there we headed over to Bangart Rd. Where we found BREWERS BLACKBIRDS in the ginseng fields a ½ mile down the road.
We continued on Rangeline across Highway C to Guldan St. Prior to arriving on Guldan St we found many RING-BILLED GULLS and over 20 BONAPARTE'S GULLS.
When we arrived at Guldan st we could see that all of this extra moisture made this a prime shorebird location and we ended up seeing 40 LESSER YELLOWLEGS a half dozen GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER.
From here we continued down to Rangeline Flowage where we had 500+ LESSER SCAUP.
We then headed back to the George W. Mead Headquarters Building with a walk around the lower trails. There were two PURPLE MARTINS on the new Purple Martin nest boxes that were donate from the Wausau Bird Club (a Birdathon recipient). This was the 1st time that we’ve had Purple Martins on this trip. We also had SAVANNAH and SWAMP SPARROWS, HOODED MERGANSERS, RING-NECKED DUCK and couple of TRUMPERTER SWANS. Through the wooded area we saw HERMIT THRUSHS, FOX SPARROWS, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, DARK-EYED JUNCOS and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS.
We concluded the morning with a tally of 77 species. The weather certainly impacted the number of species seen. We had a great Field Trip. We’d love to attract and encourage more, of all ages, to get out and explore their world. There is so much amazing life and beauty out there, if we only take the time to look for, see and enjoy it. We all should experience just how beneficial spending some time in nature truly is. The peace and tranquility are good for the soul. It changes your perspective on things. It makes you feel more positive and alive and more at peace with yourself and others. I challenge you to get out there today and see and feel for yourself!