Yesterday evening I had the rare opportunity to go birding. Our family schedule normally does not allow me to be away as the sun sets in the west. I made one final trip to the Wisconsin Grasslands in the hope that I might see some Red Headed Woodpecker chicks, but there was still no sign (or sound) of young at the nest hole. Last year I saw woodpecker chicks at various nest holes on June 29th. Here we are on July 9th and neither of the two woodpecker families I have been monitoring have chicks.
Why the last trip to see Red? Early Tuesday morning Molly and I head west for a week’s vacation with our children followed by our bike tour through the mountains of British Columbia to the Pacific.
Clear deep blue skies beckoned at 5:00 am which forced me to get out of bed, eat a quick bowl of cereal and drive the 35 miles from my house in northeastern Minnesota to the northern Wisconsin Grasslands near Cloverland. Just like my visit two days ago, hanging out down next to the swamp was a bug free experience (amazing).
For 90 minutes I watched the Red-Headed Woodpecker hole. Did you know that before the chicks are fledged, the mom seems to come out or her hole approximately every 15 minutes for a quick preen and flight? After a minute or two, it is back into the tree. Thus, in my time with “Red” I had six photo ops, followed by a lot of waiting.
After my quality time with the Red-Headed Woodpeckers, I moved two miles down the road to the Roy P. Johnson Mitigation Wetlands which is where I found this Bobolink hunting breakfast for its young. Returning home to Duluth, I even beat the thunderstorm which rolled into the area and drenched everything. Life is good!
I have been having fun this summer watching Red Headed Woodpeckers over in the Cloverland / Wisconsin Grasslands region just off Wisc. Hwy #13. As this kind of woodpecker is rarely seen in Boreal forests near my home in Northeastern Minnesota, the 35 mile drive to Cloverland is always fun and worthwhile given the different habitat and birds I experience.
This morning I stood at the edge of a swamp and watched this Red Headed Woodpecker at its nest hole. No chicks were present, but they should stick their heads out of the hole any day now. Even better, the bugs were not bad down next to the swamp.
Hugh thanks to Frank Nicoletti and the Wisconsin Breeding Atlas folks. Frank was doing a count for the Atlas and was kind enough to share the location on Green Acres Road.
Why … to see the Bobolink! I know, pretty bad, but it was a good days birding two days ago over at the Wisconsin Grasslands along Wisconsin #13 in the Cloverland area. Many of the birds have recently hatched young, which means the parents need to spend a significantly increased amount of time hunting for food. This in turn, makes the birds easier to find and photograph.
This scenario resulted in my finding a relatively rare group of about eight Upland Sandpipers. One hour after sunrise two families of sandpipers, including chicks, were feeding along the side of Wisconsin #13 between Windy and Jack Pine Roads. These birds have seen their numbers decrease over the years due to both hunting and habitat loss (grasslands).