On June 5th, 2016 I made the two hour trek northeast to do some birding at the Emmons Creek SFA in Portage County and on Marsh Road in Waupaca County with my good friend Chuck Petters who graciously guided me around the area. I actually met Chuck two years ago while up in Freedom, Wisconsin photographing Snowy Owls and we have had several birding adventures since.
My target bird was the elusive Mourning Warbler, which has always been a warbler I have heard but only had a brief glimpse at. As I drove up to meet Chuck in Waupaca, I remember thinking how satisfied I would have been to just get one decent picture of this warbler. Little did i know I would be in for so much more.
The first bird we got fairly good looks at was a tail-less Blue Winged Warbler. Lighting was not very good but that is the way it is for wildlife photographers, you make do with what you get.
Next came the Mourning Warblers. We just drove along Emmons Creek Road with the windows down and listened for this birds distinctive call. At first we heard nothing but then they really came alive when the sun poked out of the clouds. They were really active and at one point we were just sitting on the side of the road and there was suddenly a Mourning Warbler in a branch right next to the vehicle looking at us! We got some fantastic looks which made the trip right there.
We also got a quick look at a nice Scarlet Tanager before it quickly moved off into the forest.
We found a pair of what appeared to be breeding Pine Warblers.
We had a very inquisitive Chestnut-sided Warbler visit us for a while as well.
We briefly had a family of Red-shouldered Hawks fly right over us. There were two adults and a recent fledgling which was really working at staying aloft. They made quite the racket as they went by. This was afirst for me in the state of Wisconsin.
Even a Turkey Vulture seemed curious about us and came in for a quick look.
We heard more ovenbirds than anything but man are they elusive! I only got one quick picture and it was not a good one.
After we ate lunch we made our way over to Marsh Road in Waupaca County to see what we could stir up. Of course we got to see quite a few Common Yellowthroats.
Then there were the Swamp Sparrows.
Then we first heard and then saw a very vocal Yellow-throated Vireo.
As Chuck and I were outside of the car taking pictures of the Yellow-throated Vireo, I noticed movement in my peripheral vision and when I looked to my right I saw what my mind wanted to tell me was a very large black dog. Because it was so close, what else could it be? Then reality caught up with my mind and I whispered to Chuck “Bear!” “Bear!” Of course, without missing a beat,we both began firing off pictures as this large boar was moving along the marsh parallel to us and about 60 feet away. I then made the mistake of asking Chuck to take a step to his left so I could get a better angle at which point the bear sat down and looked at us for a moment before suddenly rearing up in a stand/turn and high-tailing it back into the woods. I was impressed with how damn fast this animal was, covering at least 200 yards in mere seconds. My first Black Bear and what a way to see it!
I saw my first Red Squirrel as well.
It was also a day for butterflies as well and I finally saw my first endangered Karner Blue Butterflies! What a treat that was!
The beautiful Pearly crescent nicely contrasts with the Daisy Fleabane.
The gorgeously colored Red-spotted Purple has always been one of my favorites.
I saw my first Juvenal’s Dusky Wing as well!
I saw more Viceroy’s than I have ever seen in my life up to that point. They were everywhere!
The common but beautiful (but aren’t they all?!) Red Admiral.
The White Admiral which is actually of no relation to the Red Admiral.
It was another fantastic trip with Chuck. We try to get at least one good birding and photography adventure each year and I always look forward to spending time with Chuck. Much of my time birding and taking pictures is a purely solo hobby but I really do cherish the times I get to spend with like minded folks when they happen. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Chuck is an expert at bird vocalizations and butterflies!