Ah, marbled godwits in the sun! Since the first two days of the festival were windy and rainy and generally not all that fun to bird in, I was worried people would go away with a wet feeling about the festival.
Prairie birding really is something everyone should experience at least once, but when it's windy and rainy, it's not so much fun. But on the sunny days, it's magical. Fortunately, the sun came out Friday, late afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday so people got to experience the gloriousness of North Dakota.
This was one of the many orchard orioles we saw in North Dakota. I carpooled to the Potholes and Prairie Bird Festival with my friend Kate Fitzmeier who works for Eagle Optics. I've said it before and I'll say it again: when you work bird festivals, you see the same vendors again and again, and it becomes this kind of strange nomadic birding family. I went to the festival working a Swarovski table so it worked out well to share expenses with Kate. One of the things I love about Kate besides her sense of humor is that she works hard, she birds hard...
...and when she sees a giant coot sculpture on the side of the road, she knows it's a perfect photo opportunity! There were so many friends at this festival and so many bird bloggers: Rondeau Ric, Somewhere in NJ, Nature Knitter, Bill of the Birds, Julie Zickefoose, and Birding Couple!
This was one of the many American avocets we saw on the prairie. I was excited to meet Birding Couple, it's one of the many blogs I enjoy reading when I have the time. I talked to them for a few minutes at one of the mixers and said that I would love to have dinner with them the next night...but stupidly did not exchange phone numbers. When Kate and I had a free couple of hours the next day, we heard a report of three whooping cranes nearby and set out to find them, completely missing the dinner hour. I worried about missing a meet up with the Birding Couple but figured one: they are birders, they would understand the need to chase a whooping crane report and 2. I still had another day of festival in which to hang out with them. We didn't get the whooping cranes and then it turned out that the Birding Couple ended up leaving early the following morning. I sent them a quick email that I was sorry to have missed them...although leaving out that I ditched them for whooping cranes. They sent an email back also expressing regret saying that they weren't around that afternoon because...they went looking for whooping cranes! Ah birders!
These are some sharp-tailed grouse that were lekking on the prairie. Behind the grouse, the coteau (or high point) almost looks like a tiny mountain range, but that's how cool a hill can look on the prairie. Speaking of lekking and arguing birds, I found myself the middle man between Zickefoose and Non Birding Bill. My husband wanted me to tell Julie that he loves her posts on saving "Mother Earth" but demanded a Chet Baker post. Julie told me to tell NBB that she would as soon as she got a carbon copy of his letter to his congressman regarding his outrage over mountaintop removal mining. NBB then sent back a witty quip about "who still uses carbon copies" and well, it just went downhill from there. Fortunately, Julie has finally posted a Baker post and my husband's addiction to the cutest and smartest Boston Terrier this side of the Internet is appeased...for the moment.