Today was a sunny and warm (54-degrees) contrast to yesterday's snow.
We were surprised to spot a Mourning Cloak butterfly floating along the wooded edge of my favorite road (RR 107). We spotted a slider soaking up the sun, hauled out on a half-submerged log in the pond. Red-tailed Hawks soared over the standing fields of corn.
We went on our weekly shopping expedition to Eau Claire (we also saw Ricky Gervais' film - the Invention of Lying - which was predictable but still funny). Even though it was relatively early (4:30pm), I thought we might hear Barred Owls, so we took RR107 back to Durand. The morning sun had disappeared, hidden behind one of those foreboding "it's going to snow soon" gray, overcast skies.
I stopped to look at the now leafless dogwood and sumac thickets. I was curious to see if anyone had been feeding on the smilax fruits. I heard first, then saw a tiny flash of a bird - too small to be a junco. White eye ring. Was it a warbler? I looked for color - drab, faint wingbars. Then I saw the slash of red on its crown. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet! Within a minute or so, the shrubs were full of tiny birds.
In the winter, kinglets form mix-species flocks with chickadees, nuthatches, creepers and their cousins - the Golden-crowned Kinglet. I haven't seen a golden-crowned in years. I pulled out my binoculars. I was rewarded with the best look I've ever had - at both kinglets. I'd forgotten about the striking yellow in golden's tail and wings.