Sunday, July 30, 2017

Washburn County, Wisconsin: A Great Place For Eastern Birding

Washburn County, Wisconsin, or the State of Wisconsin in general, is an awesome place.  There are many things to do there.  Perhaps Wisconsin is best known for it's epic dairy farms and dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, milk, cheese curds, and more.  Here, four people wander through Shell Lake and Spooner, Wisconsin to get free ice cream that the local banks hand out on summer Fridays.


Wisconsin is also known for it's fishing.  Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Small and Largemouth Bass, you name it!





Another epic thing are water related activities.  Boating.  Rafting.  Canoeing.  You got it!  There are lakes and rivers everywhere.



What's really cool is that I have family in Washburn County, Wisconsin, and that's why I was there.


My Grandma lives in Wisconsin.  Pearl DeBardeleben and my Grandfather, the late John DeBardeleben, resided in the Spooner/Shell Lake area in Washburn County.  For this reason, I've always loved this place.  My aunt Tabby lives here as well as many second cousins and other relatives of my Dad's.  We were here for a family project, and there was a lot of work involved.  The family time was epic.



Wisconsin also has it's good birding too!  And I, Tommy D, love birding in this state.  Lots of birders do too.

Remember my post about Wisconsin's Warblers and the fact that I lifered on three of them during my recent trip:  Blackburnian, Canada, and Mourning Warblers?  I did add another lifer in Wisconsin, and that was a heard-only Black-billed Cuckoo.  My brother Tyler and I went back after I heard it to try and relocate the bird and to get a visual of it, but it simply wasn't meant to be.  With a Black-billed Cuckoo though, I'll take a heard-only.

In Washburn County, there were an assortment of birds away from the life birds.  Many of them were classic birds from the east, and I will feature them on this post.  Whether what I saw or not, it was cool to bird in a County that I've always wanted to bird in.  In the week we spent and in the limited time I had for birding, I recorded 105 species in Washburn County.  And it is a County that is heavily under-birded!

Things got really fun on the drive up and once we entered into Washburn County.  This Bald Eagle was scavenging on a road killed deer.  Ooohs and aaahs filled my family members voices.





The local Brown Thrasher was an awesome sight once we started working.


Sometimes, Sandhill Cranes were seen in the area's fields..


Here's the Eastern Kingbird, a classic eastern bird that haunts roadsides.


Yellow-throated Vireos are fairly common in northwestern Wisconsin.  They are loud and are heard a lot more than they are seen.  A few times on the trip, I found myself face-to-face with one.




Truly impressive were the numbers of the Veery throughout Washburn.  They were everywhere.  And so were their epic songs.



A lone Trumpeter Swan made it's home at a series of wetlands called Tozar Springs just off of the Yellow River.  We drove by this place several times daily, and every time, this Trumpeter Swan was there.



One of the most abundant birds in the east is the Red-eyed Vireo.  You can't go anywhere without hearing one!



An amazing highlight happened when I got to see this Broad-winged Hawk roadside.  It was the first time I've really gotten to see this small buteo well after catching glimpses of a few on this trip and having brief looks at two separate Arizona migrants.





The Song Sparrows in the north look a lot different than the ones in the southwest, that's for sure!


Here's a crappy shot of an Eastern Bluebird, another classic eastern bird.


I heard and saw and few Eastern Towhees on the trip.  One of them was very cooperative for my camera, and these are the best pics I have obtained of this species.




Scarlet Tanagers were pretty scarce while I was up there, but I managed to catch this striking bird at a distance.  After all, this was my 500th life bird which I saw for the first time last year.


This male Rose-breasted Grosbeak in song sure was a welcoming sight.


The cat-like sounding Gray Catbird was very common on the trip.  There were a few times individuals would perch out in the open for me.



Striking male Indigo Buntings were also a common sight, especially along the sides of roads or in forest clearings.  I couldn't go anywhere without seeing these guys.






A few times on the trip, I heard the breathtaking song of the Wood Thrush.  This song doesn't sound like anything we should hear on earth, and it all comes from a medium-sized brown bird with black spots on it's front.  Prior to this trip, I caught one glimpse of a Wood Thrush as it flew away from me.  This time, my patience in hoping to see one well prevailed, and I got good looks and decent photographs of this singing male on territory.  These are my first Wood Thrush photographs!




The common and well-known Blue Jay is loud and can be heard everywhere in the East.  Despite the common audio, these birds don't readily show themselves much.  This individual was the only one who gave me a chance to view it on the trip.


This female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was right outside my Aunt Gretchen and Uncle Larry's cabin.  Another classic bird of the east..


As you can all see in a nutshell, this place is awesome for birding.  If you haven't seen my Wisconsin Warblers post yet, it's two posts back in the archives.  Washburn has it's warblers, and a lot of them at that.  I hope to return to this awesome place again soon for family, for all the fun mentioned above, and of course, for the birds too.

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