Skywatch Friday & Carpenter Nature Center

It's Skywatch Friday again and I was out at Carpenter Nature Center this morning and thought I'd get a shot of sky. The sky was crisp and blue. And though it's a lovely shade of blue, when put in the blog, it looks more like I just placed a blue box in the post. It needs some accents. Since there were no clouds to oblige, I had to work with earthly accents.

How about some goldenrod? I think this is the start of my favorite time of year at Carpenter. In late summer and early fall the prairie comes alive with color of yellows, reds, greens...

The asters are starting to burst open to. The purple itself is fine, but add a touch of that gorgeous blue sky is all part of the pallet.

And it's not just the flowers, monarchs and swallowtails are nectaring on every blooming thing. This is a giant swallowtail on a a thistle. Note that sea of goldenrod capped off with a beautiful blue sky in the background. At Birds and Beers last night, I had a conversation with bird banders Roger and Mark about goldenrod fields and all the birds that lurk in them this time of year. They mentioned how many warblers are down in them. We had a net up in a goldenrod/sumac/dogwood field at Carpenter this morning and it was our most active net.

We got in a couple of Wilson's warblers (or WIWA according to the American Ornithologists' code) like the bird above and a Nashville...and oodles of flycatchers. Flycatchers just kind of take the wind out of my sails when banding. We get both alder and willow flycatchers in Minnesota and telling them apart this time of year (when they aren't singing) involves algebra (that's not an exaggeration). What heck kind of sadist has to ruin birding with math. I always feel like Tom Hanks in A League of their Own: "There's no math in birding! There's no math in birding!"

Here a second Wilson's. It's so buttery yellow--you can imagine how well it would hide in those goldenrod fields while gleaning insects off the flowers.

Check out the bottoms of the WIWA's foot--it's super yellow. Warblers are just cool from head to toe.

We did have a rather interesting chickadee show up-- it was missing a foot! Fortunately, not the banded foot, so we were able to find out that we banded it last fall and it was healthy and had two feet when it was first banded. Wonder what happened? Did the toes freeze off over the winter? Did the bird fly into a window, injure its foot, resulting in a severe infection that caused the toes to fall off? Did it get bumblefoot?

Another surprise was finding a goldfinch incubating two eggs this late in August. I know goldfinches nest late, but this seems really late for Minnesota. Will be interesting to watch its progress over the next few weeks.