Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wisconsin Wandering

We arrived in Wisconsin on July 26th at Prairie du Chein and camped at Wyalusing State Park for the next 3 nights.  The prairie flowers are in full bloom attracting a myriad of hummingbirds and insects like this Hummingbird Moth.

We searched diligently for southwestern Wisconsin specialty birds which are harder to locate without their Spring territorial songs.  We did locate the Yellow-throated, Kentucky, and Cerulean Warblers, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Scarlet Tanager.

A short trip down to Bagley Bottoms on the Mississippi River produced a lone Prothonotary Warbler. Up Gasner Hollow, we found Tufted Titmouse and a surprise, a White-eyed Vireo plus this Eastern Comma Butterfly.

It's a beautiful view from the top of the bluff at Wyalusing looking down at the mouth of the Wisconsin River where it enters the Mississippi.  This has always been one of our favorite places to camp and bird through the years.

We spent two nights at Gov. Dodge State Park and enjoyed the Stephens' Falls Trail.  We found a quiet Bell's Vireo on the ridge to the north and added a family of Willow Flycatchers by the creek.  Beautiful days to spend some time at the beach of Twin Valley lakes.

Drove to Spring Green Prairie and walked in the morning fog listening to the songs of Lark & Grasshopper Sparrows and a Blue Grosbeak.

A walk to Baxter's Hollow near Baraboo added a lone Louisiana Waterthrush singing.
Young Bobolink

Northward to Buena Vista Grasslands, finding large flocks of Bobolinks gathering before migration to South America.  We added Henslow's and Clay-colored Sparrows, a late flying Short-eared Owl and 4 Prairie Chickens out on a plowed field.

We drove around White River Marsh adding Whooping Cranes; Lake Puckaway - Cattle Egret; Grand River Marsh - Black & Forester's Terns; and Germania Marsh.  A visit with Ida's mother in Montello ( she turned 92 on July 4th).  Stayed in my sister's yard north of Westfield where Whip-poor-wills serenaded after sunset and again before dawn.  After breakfast out and church we headed to Lake MIchigan.

We found these Cedar Waxwings at Kohler-Andrae State Park.  We were surprised to see how little beach if any is left at the park.  Next morning we headed north stopping at Sheboygan's North Point finding Lesser Black-backed Gulls, then Manitowoc where we found 2 Little Gulls, and Caspian and Common Terns at Kewaunee and Algoma.

We camped at Potowotami State Park and next day was a great Door County warbler day.  We traveled north along the lake stopping at Whitefish Dunes S.P., Caves Point County Park and Toft's Point Nature Preserve finding 13 species of warblers including Canada, Black & White, (both pictured), Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Tennessee, & N. Parula, etc.

We stayed at Wagon Trail Campground at Rowley's Bay and headed back down the bay stopping at Peninsula State Park, finding Red-shouldered Hawk.  We found Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies on the milkweed and a full-grown Ring-necked Snake that only measures 8 inches.

We drove south through Collin's Marsh, Sheboygan Marsh and into the northern Kettle Moraine and camped at Long Lake.  We found this little Gray Tree Frog (looked green to us too) in our electric box.

There were lots of Blue-winged Warblers feeding young in the area.  We found the above Widow skimmer Dragonfly near Long Lake.

Next stop was Horicon Marsh, where this pair of Trumpeter Swans were reflecting on on the crazy traffic on Highway 49.

We added Least Bittern, Common Gallinule, Sora & Virginia Rails, and saw 4 Whopping Cranes near Ledge Road.

We camped at Ledge Park south of Mayville, later we toured all the shorebird ponds on the west side of the marsh finding 14 species including, Red-necked Phalaropes, Stilt & White-rumped Sandpipers and American Golden Plovers.

Next stop was the southern Kettle Moraine where we finally picked up the Hooded Warbler.  Several hours of scanning the Wind Lake Sod Farms turned up a Buff-breasted Sandpiper among all the Killdeer and Horned Larks.

We are now near Racine and checked the sand and jetty areas.  We had several Semipalmated Plovers (pictured) and one Black-bellied Plover.

Looking forward to more of Wisconsin, visiting with family and friends and getting more birds with fall migration.

Blessings & Prayers,
Ida & Ty Baumann

Monday, July 28, 2014

Montana to Iowa

While at Great Falls, Montana we spent several hours on a 9 miles auto tour at Benton National Wildlife Refuge.  These beautiful Am Avocets were adamant about protecting their growing fledglings.

The fields had many Upland Sandpipers curiously peeking their heads above the prairie grasses.

We followed the Lewis & Clark Trail and stayed at Battle Ridge campground.  We walked up King's Hill finding some interesting plants like this Pacific Coral Root and many butterflies on the plentiful flowers.
Field Crescent

This whole trip from Alaska, Canada and into the U.S.  has had an abundance of Black-billed Magpies.  We couldn't resist another photo opportunity!
Vicki, Nate,Becky Abi, Jim, Rachel, Ty & Ida

In our two day visit at Livingston, MT. we enjoyed visiting Ty's nephew Nate and family, plus our sister-in-law Vicki, visiting from Florida.

An early start into Yellowstone National Park, staying ahead of the crowds, we enjoyed the wildlife.  We saw thousands of Bison, herds of Pronghorns and Elk, and one Gray Wolf half-heartedly chasing a herd of Pronghorns.

We skipped the geysers and paint pots and headed to the alpine areas of Bear Tooth Pass.  Ty searched diligently for Rosy Finches only finding Am. Pipits, Horned Larks and White-crowned Sparrows.

Eastward to Devil's Tower National Monument in northeastern Wyoming.  We took a mile and a half walk around the base of this 876 foot monolith before the crowds arrived.

There is a huge Prairie Dog "Town" on the grounds - they are very used to getting their photo taken.

We settled into the Black Hills Custer- Crazy Horse campground on a hot afternoon.   By 7pm the sky was darkening and thunder was rolling.  Lightning was a continuous strobe followed by torrential downpour and 3/4 inch hail that proved to be deafening as it hit the roof of the RV.  Rivers of mud and water rolled down the hills of the campground.  There was a three hour calm and at 1am came round two and more hail, thankfully no damage to our vehicle although others weren't so fortunate.

The sun shone bright next morning as we traversed the curving roads of the Black Hills State Forest through beautiful pine forests and rock tunnels that we just barely made it through.
We took photos of Mt. Rushmore before it opened and decided to skip the crowds again.

This Mountain Bluebird emerging from his morning bath met us as we went through the 20 mile wildlife loop at Custer State Park.

We found wandering herds of bison, many White-tailed deer including these twins, and burros that are the descendants of pack animals brought to work the mines but are now free to roam.

We drove to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, recent showers brought out the vivid colors in this unique landscape as well as many tiny toads.

The temperatures kept rising and hit 104 degrees by afternoon.  Too hot to settle down so we kept driving across South Dakota.  We saw flocks of Lark Buntings  along the highway.


We stayed at Snake Creek State Park on the Missouri River.  The wind of 30-40 mph continued through the night.

Driving through the remainder of SD into Iowa, we found a Com. Nighthawk that was resting on this fence post and our first of many, many Dickcissels.

Looking forward to Wisconsin and adding all the eastern birds to our yearly list.  Also looking forward to meeting with family and friends.

See you soon,  Ty & Ida Baumann

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rocky Mountains - Canada into US

Wood Lily

Traveling along the Rockies in Alberta, back into British Columbia and into Montana is absolutely breath taking.  Photos don't do it justice - you really need to experience it.
Elk Calf

We were in Jasper National Park and the scenery, flowers and wildlife were great.  There were many elk cows and calves right in the campground.
Bull Elk along the parkway

Bighorn sheep lambs

We took the Jasper Sky Tram up Whistler's Mountain (along with 22 other tourists in each car), at 7,400 feet then walked another mile or two upward to the summit at over 8,000 feet.

Along the trail were Hoary Marmots and Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels.

The Alpine tundra looks bare and rocky but just take a closer look .... it's covered in moss, lichens and many beautiful alpine flowers.

Elephant's head Lousewort

After five hours on the mountain, we drove the road to Lake Maligne.  We found 5 Black Bears including these two playful cubs ( #63 & #64 for the trip).

Next day, we started south on the Icefield Parkway hoping that the road was open after being closed for two days because of smoke from wild fires.  We stopped at Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls on the way.

We encountered some Mountain Goats coming down to the mineral licks on the side of the parkway near the White Goat Wilderness.

Fires were still burning near Saskatchewan Crossing but we were able to keep going as the wind was in our favor.

Campgrounds were full at Lake Louise so we moved south into Kootenay National Park.  We followed the Kootenay River all the way to the U.S. border.
Edith's Checkerspot

We visited Glacier National Park, birding the west side and going as far as we could as size restrictions and construction kept us from going over the pass on Going to the Sun road.

We found many butterflies and other insects on the roadside flowers and saw one more black bear for our list.  We then drove around the south end of Glacier Park stopping at the Goat Lick adding 5 more Mt. Goats.
Sacken's Bee Hunter

A little rain and sunshine near East Glacier and you find spectacular rainbows.  This was actually a full double but impossible to capture in a photo.

The flowers were at their peak and everywhere you looked was more color.  The only drawback is the hoards of people that overtake the parks so we left for unknown roads and birds.

It is good to be back in the states.  We don't complain about high gas prices because it's much lower than in Canada.  We are thankful for a wonderful, safe trip and looking forward to traveling back to Wisconsin.

Ty and Ida Baumann