Little Update On The Prairie

Boy, you can tell it's spring migration, blogging updates are few and far between. I had a great time at Detroit Lakes, but boy do I feel like I've been rode hard and hung up wet. I think I have a bird hangover.

I just plain exploded when I got to the Detroit Lakes Festival. The warblers hadn't shown up yet, and the weather and been cold and rainy. We were actually a little nervous on Thusday night that we would not be able to find to many warblers for the weekend trips when wouldn't you know it on Friday afternoon, the warbler floodgates opened and they were dripping off of the trees. They must have just flown in. It was funny because we started with a couple of redstarts and yellow-rumps and then someone found a Wilson's warbler. I said, if we had a Wilson's anything is possible, so one of the other trip leaders and I started calling out species we could use including blackburnian, blackpoll, magnolia, Cape May--wouldn't you know it, we got all of those--and two surprise parulas!

What I really like about Detroit Lakes, is that you can visit three different habitats: hardwood, boreal and prairie. I ended up co-leading the prairie trips, which is what I wanted. I have a soft spot for bobolinks and they were everywhere.

Here is one of the hundreds we saw. I really enjoy leading field trips but it's hard to digiscope. When you're a field trip leader the priority is to make sure everyone on the trip is seeing the birds around and to help find target species. The bobolinks really put on a show. At one point two males were fighting over territory and were flying within 7 - 8 eight feet of our heads. There were also several upland sandpipers around. You can' help but feel attractive with those birds around. Their call sounds like a wolf whistle.

Since there weren't a lot of tall perches for the birds of the prairie, they made do. Above is a Wilson's snipe balancing on a wire. We also saw a couple of upland sandpipers do this. Can I say how weird it is to see shorebirds perched on a wire?

We stopped at a great spot called Felton Prairie. I loved all the marbled godwits, they scolded us almost everywhere we went. The grass was almost as tall as the godwits. I got a chuckle out of them. As I would scan the grass you would see these little heads pop up with these enormous bills.

We were all standing in one spot watching for horned larks and godwits when we heard the rumbling and thumping. Some cows were running straight for us.

They stopped along the edges of the road and watched. If we moved ahead, they would follow. I think they thought we might feed them.

I offered to teach them how to use binoculars, but they didn't seem that interested.

Here is something unexpected at a Nyjer thistle feeder: clay-colored sparrows. I had no idea these guys would eat Nyjer. I love their buzzy little call.

When Cinnamon learned about all the ticks festival goers were gathering, she laid out a huge disapproval. She only made one brief appearance at the booth, she didn't want to risk the ticks. Can't say I blame her.

There was an odd incident with the manager of the hotel we were staying in. Pets were welcome, but he was greatly concerned about Cinnamon and warned me I would pay for "any soiling" she may do to the room. Cinnamon was most upset and disapproved of this. After all, it's a well known fact that I am somewhat of a slob. Ask anyone who has ever worked for me. Ask WildBird on the Fly, she's roomed with me, she would know. Take look of Cinnamon's space in the above photo.

Above is my bed in the room. I ask you, who is more likely to soil this room, my rabbit or myslef? After Cinnamon corrected the manager as to who was the mess maker, he gave her a pack of little mineral blocks--what a nice guy! Since I was messy, I didn't get anything.

After three days of getting up at 4am, working the binocular booth, giving workshops and performing, I was barely awake enough to drive, so Jeff the ever helpful Leica rep led me to some much needed coffee. We did get a kick out of the billboard in the above photo. Are there any male readers of this blog that would like to call that number?

I am so tired, I must sleep more. I apologize for typos, I'm too tired to go over this more carefully.