Wisconsin sportsmen can tally life list "firsts" while in the field or on the water

As a kid I remember seeing the "Blatz – Fishes of the Great Lakes" poster on the wall at a bait shop. The poster featured painted portraits of fish in action in the water column of your dreams. Top to bottom, there must have been 50 different species, from Atlantic salmon up top, to more exotic species like the American eel towards the bottom. The advertisement captured my imagination and probably started my interest in "life lists." I vowed to catch every species.

Since then I have kept something of a "master life list." My master list reaches beyond fish to all fauna and flora I have seen in the wild. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bugs, even plants. I kind of keep tabs on all I have seen and pay special attention to firsts. Spring is a great time to catalogue new entries and this year I got an early start with a trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon.

On the trip, I was able to add quite a few firsts to my master list. Among birds I added the western scrub jay, black chinned hummingbird, western bluebird, black hawk and Gambel's quail.

It would seem that I am perpetually 9 years old when it comes to reptiles. The Arizona desert did not disappoint and treated me to a handful of new lizards, including the northern plateau lizard and the short-horned lizard, aka the "horned-toad."

New mammals included prairie dogs, rock squirrels and wild horses. Alas, no desert big horn sheep were seen.

Here in Wisconsin, April and May bring the spring bird migration – a great opportunity to see some unusual species as they are passing through.

Last year while turkey hunting I tallied five different warblers in one sitting, including a Nashville warbler, a first for me. Unfortunately on that day, the bird I did not see, was a turkey …

On the Wisconsin River last Sunday we watched a spotted sandpiper working the shoreline, not an uncommon bird, but it was the first time I had "officially" identified one.

Do you have a list of your own? Habitat work, turkey hunting and even fishing provide excuses to get outside. Keep your eyes peeled, carry your field glasses and take the time to positively ID the critters you see

My Fishes of the Great Lakes quest is not over, though I've made quite a dent. I've even managed to land the elusive American eel (pulled from a crab trap in Mississippi – that counts!). No, I'm not done with my Great Lakes Fishes life list, but I am getting down to last, and if anybody knows where I can land a troutperch or a pirate perch, I know a can't-miss spot for madtoms.


Categories: WisBlogs, Wisconsin – Chris Jennings

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