The Best of April 2016

The following pictures were taken during the month of April in various locations around southern Wisconsin. Many of my favorite places such as Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton and Horicon Marsh along with Lake Park and North Point in Milwaukee provided some memorable birding during the month.

The first set of pictures are of one of the first migrants and certainly the first warbler we see in Wisconsin, the Yellow-rumped Warbler A.K.A. “Butterbutt” as the fourth picture shows  Despite how common they are in April, I have traditionally had difficulty getting good pictures of them. I felt this year that changed.

P.B. 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-4

Pheasant Branch 4-14-16 Jeff Galligan-3

Pheasant Branch 4-14-16 Jeff GalliganPheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-8

I was fortunate enough to be at Pheasant Branch one morning when dozens of Golden-crowned Kinglets came through and were feeding en masse at eye level in shrubbery. I just sat down and let the action come to me; often having kinglets on branches inches from me. The following are some of my favorite pictures from that memorable day. Kinglets are really difficult birds to capture as they are constantly flitting around but I felt these little guys got me in good shape to photograph warblers in May.

Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-7

Pheasant Branch 4-14-16 Jeff Galligan-2

Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-6

Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-5

Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-4

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Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan

Then there were the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I did not have the incredible experience with having so many of them around me at once, but I did get some pictures of them.

Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-4

Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-2

Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan

I saw more Blue-gray Gnatcatchers this year than ever before.P.B. 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-2

P.B. 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan

I also had more pictures of Wood Ducks then I have ever taken this year.

P.B. 4-24-16 Jeff Galligan-5

P.B. 4-24-16 Jeff Galligan

Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-6

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Five male Wood Ducks…definitely the most I have had in one picture!

There were many other birds seen at Pheasant Branch in April as well.

P.B. 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-3
Mallard hen with her ducklings
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Female Downy Woodpecker excavating
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A bathing Robin
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Song Sparrow staking out his claim to a territory
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A surprised Hooded Merganser hen making a hasty exit away from me
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A blondish Gray Squirrel enjoying one of the first spring-like days of the year
Pheasant Branch, Lakeshore 4-17-16 Jeff Galligan
A Black-capped Chickadee checks out the view from inside its nest cavity
Pheasant Branch 4-14-16 Jeff Galligan-4
A hard to photograph Brown Creeper making sure the picture is less than adequate 
Pheasant Branch 4-11-16 Jeff Galligan-9
A male Northern Cardinal poses

I had some great luck at Horicon as well in April. The highlight was the rare Ruff who was visiting for a day from Eurasia. The lighting was terrible and the bird was quite a ways out on the mudflats on the boardwalk.

Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan

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I also had some great looks at a Black-necked Stilt eating a leech at very close range

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Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-8

Even the gees were interesting. Despite the a nuisance they can be, they sure are cute as little goslings.

Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-4
Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?
Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-2
This is an angry parent who is hissing its warning to stay back from the goslings

Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-3

On my way home from Horicon, I noticed a large mass of white in a marshy field near highway 49 and did a quick u-turn and confirmed my initial impression…a Whooping Crane. Number 51 of my life!

Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-12

Horicon 4-30-16 Jeff Galligan-11

Horicon was originally established as a protected migration and breeding area for Redheads. I saw a few of them there.

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Redhead drake
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Redhead hen

I made a trip out to the ponds on county DM east of Waunakee and west of Deforest and was able to see some neat birds.

Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-10
Savannah Sparrow
Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-9
Savannah Sparrow
Pheasant Branch, DM 4-16-16 Jeff Galligan-8
Wilson’s Snipe

I made the trip to Milwaukee to see the Eastern Screech Owl that was being seen in Lake Park and was not disappointed. There are three phases of Eastern Screech Owls with coloration generally determined by range. The Gray owls tend to be at the western edge of their range, darker, redder birds generally southern. This bird is what I am calling a light brown phase, somewhat of an intermediary between thh gray and red phases.

Lake, North Point, Wehr 4-23-16 Jeff Galligan-11

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There were also White-throated Sparrows singing away
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A few Chipping Sparrows were seen as well
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Even a partially leucistic Robin  made an appearance

Then it was on to Northpoint on Lake Michigan where I was treated to close looks at Bonaparte’s Gulls .

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Lake, North Point, Wehr 4-23-16 Jeff Galligan-14

A quick stop at Lakeshore State Park  showed a whole lot of Tree Swallows including the two below who seemed to be engaged in a very animated discussion on top of their nesting box.

Lake, North Point, Wehr 4-23-16 Jeff Galligan-20

Then it was on to Whitnall Park where I caught this American Robin in mid gulp. note the nictating membrane covering its eye.Lake, North Point, Wehr 4-23-16 Jeff Galligan-24

Then there were the Great Horned Owlets with a sleepy but watchful mother nearby.

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Lake, North Point, Wehr 4-23-16 Jeff Galligan-23

 

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