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Yard MD blog: Fall birds at High Cliff

Thousands of songbirds grace the bluffs at High Cliff State Park

Nov. 8, 2013
 
Thousands of migrating birds made my recent visit to High Cliff State Park a special treat, highlighted by hundreds of colorful, masked Cedar Waxwings in the bare crabapple trees, thousands of robins feasting on buckthorn and grape and a tundra swan flyby.
Thousands of migrating birds made my recent visit to High Cliff State Park a special treat, highlighted by hundreds of colorful, masked Cedar Waxwings in the bare crabapple trees, thousands of robins feasting on buckthorn and grape and a tundra swan flyby. / Rob Zimmer/Post-Crescent Media

Yesterday I spent my afternoon off hiking the trails at High Cliff State Park and was amazed by the number of birds migrating through the woods and along the bluff. Thousands of robins were gathering in the forests and cliff edge, feasting on the berries of buckthorn, wild grape, crabapples and more. Hundreds of cedar waxwings joined them, along with colorful cardinals, blue jays, a few leftover catbirds and more.

The combination of sunny skies and brightly colored berries and leaves made for some excellent photo opportunities and the birds did not disappoint.

American goldfinches and dark-eyed juncos fed voraciously on the seeds of birch trees, dangling like Christmas ornaments among the bare branches. Several species of woodpeckers also worked the forest trees, hammering and calling loudly.

The sheer number of robins patrolling the forest edges seeking out buckthorn and crabapple fruits was breathtaking. As an added bonus, many of the birds were singing away in their sweet spring voices.

To top it all off, several flocks of migrating tundra swans flowed across the clear blue skies on their way east toward the Great Lakes. Swans migrate west to east in fall rather than straight north and south like most other songbirds and waterfowl.

Overhead, migrating hawks and eagles rode the winds, circling high over the limestone bluff at the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago. On the lake itself, the brisk northwest wind carried in a pretty good surf, with plenty of ducks, gulls and a few leftover white pelicans riding the waves.

For early November, the warm sunshine and singing birds made it feel more like spring for a few hours before heavy clouds rolled in during the afternoon.

It was a beautiful way to spend a late fall afternoon.

Rob Zimmer: 920-419-3734, yardmd@postcrescent.com

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