May at Baird Creek most certainly did not disappoint. After a long, cold winter and a rather dreary March and April spring finally arrived. The late spring delayed the warbler migration enough that on our May 10th bird survey we tallied the most species ever, 57 total. The stars of the show were the warblers, 15 different species, some such as the Northern Parula, that I had never seen before. At times there were as many as four species of warblers flitting around in front of our group of Birders.
Most of those warbler species will continue on to the Northwoods of northern Wisconsin, the U.P., or Canada before settling down to nest. Small areas of native woods such as Baird Creek function as way stations for those species, places where they can stop and rest for a few days, and feed on insects, before continuing their migration. As more woodland habitats are lost to development, the remaining areas such as Baird Creek become increasingly important for migratory birds. A few species of warblers do remain at Baird Creek to nest. The more common ones would be yellow-rumped warblers, ovenbirds, common yellowthroat, and yellow warblers. Several species such as wood thrush, scarlet tanagers, and red eyed vireos that we would normally expect to tally had not yet arrived, or our count could have been even higher.
The spring flower show was particularly spectacular in May. Some of the species that normally finish their bloom in April were still hanging on into May, and the May species were in blossom simultaneously. It was possible to see blooming skunk cabbage, marsh marigolds, trilliums, bishop’s miter, wild ginger, spring beauty, jack in the pulpit, and a host of other species on the same hike. Due to the late spring the first date I saw May apples blooming was June 1st, but I suspect a few were blooming in late May.
Early June is a great time to visit Baird Creek. The spring ephemerals will still be blooming for a couple of weeks, courting birds fill the air with their beautiful notes, and the forest is a beautiful, emerald green. The predictions of lots of mosquitoes appear to be accurate. I recommend long sleeve shirts and pants as well as mosquito repellent, particularly in early morning and evening. However, a hike at Baird Creek is always worth it, no matter how bad the bugs.